When Is It Going to Start Working Anyway?

A commenter asks:

I know there’s probably a lot of info on the web about the various armed conflict/s in Latin America, but do you have any good websites (in English) that are specifically about the rhetoric of the Latin American Rich? And about their actual policies that lead to so many people trying to revolt against them?

I know you’ve mentioned them in your posts, but not all that much. It would be great if you had links to a detailed, extensive database of such information.

Hi, Upside Down World  in the blogroll is an excellent resource, just off the top of my head. You know, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 30 years ago, 10 years ago, yesterday, Latin America was mired in the most horrific poverty amid the most wild wealth. I’m not sure what the rich were saying then. Now here it is, up to 100 years later, and nothing much has changed.

I think in the past it was just “Kill the Commies!” The rich ran the show, had pro-rich military dictatorships for years to decades, when that didn’t work stole elections, and controlled all the media. The masses were utterly downtrodden, but what could you do?

Every now and then the peons would get restless, and the Marines would be sent down there to repress the overwhelming majority of the people and reinstate rich rule. In Haiti, the US stayed for decades. Cuba was nearly a US colony. We invaded the Dominican Republic. Sometimes people fought back. You had the anti-US Sandino rebellion against the Marines in Nicaragua.

Anytime the people got the least bit uppity, there would be a coup or a US invasion, followed by mass death squad terror. This happened in Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, Dominican Republic in 1965, Bolivia in 1970, Chile in 1973, Argentina in 1978, and Peru in 1992. This would often be followed by years to decades of state terror, the purpose of which apparently was to say, “Don’t even think of trying this again!”

In 1932 in El Salvador there was a peasant uprising led by Farabundo Marti. It was crushed, and 2% of the population, 30,000 people, were murdered in only about a month in something called the Matanza. Whole towns and villages were slaughtered. US warships patrolled off the coast the whole time to help things go smoothly. After that, people got rid of their Indian clothes, quit speaking Indian and turned into Ladinos, because the Indians were specifically targeted in the massacre. That was enough to keep the people down for about 40 years or so.

The Western provinces, where the Matanza took place, were still very conservative even during the Civil War 50 years later. Mass terror works.

But things have changed now. Now they say that neoliberal capitalism (the rule of the rich) is the way to prosperity for everyone. Socialism or rule of the poor is a dictatorship and leads to mass poverty.

Now the rich say that the way of the rich will “lift all the boats.” A rising tide lifts all boats and all of that. It’s supply side economics. Problem is that Latin America has been engaging in supply side economics and the politics and economics of the rich since Day One. Who is it lifting out of poverty, anyway?

Main thing is that they don’t want to spend one dime to help the poor the in any way whatsoever. Doing so will ruin the economy, and we can’t have that. You can’t raise taxes, tax the rich or the corporations, raise the minimum wage or engage in any state spending. All of this is Communism, and it will “ruin the economy.”

They also engage in a lot of capital strikes now. With the election of Humala in Peru the other day, the stock market lost 20% of its value. Most of those countries are under IMF austerity programs and are limited in what they can do. Also, they need foreign investment, and the foreigners (the West) demand a neoliberal, economics of the rich, climate in the country. If you put in pro-poor policies, the investors bail. It’s hard to get much progressive policy done. Even the new Left leaders down there have their hands tied.

But the economics of the rich isn’t working down there. They’ve been doing it for 200 years.

When is it supposed to start working anyway?

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7 thoughts on “When Is It Going to Start Working Anyway?”

  1. Thanks for the separate post, Robert. I appreciate the speed of the response as well. 🙂

    I’m still curious about the psychological techniques or propaganda strategies that the Latin American rich use beyond just military force or bribery, as it seems they’d need some true believers.

    For instance, I know that in the U.S., they DO manage to convince a lot of working class people, especially poor whites, that wars in everywhere from Korea & Vietnam to Iraq & Afghanistan are needed to “protect our freedoms”. Sure, many people are in the armed forces because of promises of benefits (college money, veterans medical benefits, etc.), there were no better jobs, or even being sent as an alternative to prison. But many people really protest, fight, and die for them. US hegemony has protestors and activists, and most importantly soldiers who seem to believe that these wars are good.

    And I assume in Latin America, it must be the same in many cases. I don’t see how they could just have a few hardcore special agents or bribed death squads; places like Peru, Guatemala, Colombia amass substantial armed forces who seem to believe in the cause.

    Why can’t the potential recruits for the rich-controlled army see that they are living in awful poverty? I can understand just not wanting to risk your life to fight against them. I can understand thinking the other side is full of shit. I hate to say it, but I can even understand how someone could join a death squad just for the money; human greed is just natural.

    Do they convince poor people in these nations—-not just american foreign policy advocates, but actual, impovrished Colombians, Guatemalans, Peruvians, etc.— that the “trickle down” is just around the corner? Americans far away might believe that. Even rich people in poor nations could. But how do actual poor people who are actually living in that fall for it? Do they tell them that if they demand vaccines for plagues or safe factories, that it will grind economic growth to a hault? That giving kids an education, or even paying police a decent salary, will bankrupt the already small middle class?

    I just can’t see how people actually living there could buy that.

    And with so many of their people pissed off at them, I don’t see how they could hold them off without bona fide “true believers” of some sort to fight back at them —- it seems like a few devoute supporters or hired thugs would not be enough.

    1. They have a large mass base. For one thing, they have almost 100% control over the media. And they lie continuously in their media. Even in Venezuela, I read the Venezuelan opposition press, and it’s just one lie after another. It’s so bad that when I read it, I start thinking that Chavez sucks. It brainwashes you that bad. Then I have to go and track down all the lies and in general, almost all of them are proven wrong.

      Their line is that Chavez is running the country into the ground, destroying the economy, causing a mass crime wave, corrupt as Hell, on and on. It’s just fail, fail, fail, fail. If you live in Latin America, that’s all you’re going to hear is that lying rightwing brainwash crap 24-7.

      I’m not sure how the poor feel. Most of them are probably brainwashed and a lot of them seem to be extremely ignorant about just about everything. The Latin American middle class is terrible, they’re just as bad as the rich. They line up with the rich 100% all the way. Most people are apathetic and patriotic, and are ignorant about politics. But you can see people are getting fed up because they are electing all these Leftists. These Leftists get elected with 100% of the media deadset against them, lying like crazy 24-7.

      The death squads have a mass base. Often lower working class thugs. A lot of people support them. A lot of Latin Americans, even working class, middle class or small business, are very conservative. And anyway, there’s a lot of fear. If there’s death squads roaming around, you can get killed at any time. A lot of folks just go apolitical.

      Death squads are made up of committed people, but yes, a lot just join for the money. Death squads are really just the military and the police, especially military intelligence. They’re basically an arm of the state. So the whole army is really a part of the death squads. Why people join the army of the rich is a good question. But in these guerrilla wars, the armies end up full of rebel infiltrators. It was true in El Salvador and Peru and is especially true in Colombia. A lot join the army just to spy for the guerrilla.

      There’s also an urban-rural gap. The urban Colombians support the army and the rural people support the guerrilla.

  2. Thanks again for the reply.

    But it just seems weird that they could get supporters who are fanatically against the most BASIC of necessities. I could understand fear of armed revolutionaries. Its just natural to get scared of pissed off people with guns who preach radically different philosophies than your own, even if you agreed with them. Hell, I would be afraid of any group of revolutionaries who agreed with everything I believe. I might not fight against them. But I’d worry that they could still end up as just a different set of bad guys.

    But being foaming at the mouth opposed to the most basic increase in social welfare is just weird. Especially because good schools, safe roads and factories and decently paid public servants actually DOES result in real trickle down economics. Reasonable social welfare is the very thing that really can kick start a shitty economy and lift all boats. It just seems so obvious.

    An intense army of true believers against…public education? An intense army of true believers against…fixing pot holes in the roads? All that fanatical support even to prevent police from getting a decent paycheck? All that fanatical support to stop basic safety standards in factories?

    Loony Tunes.

  3. http://www.killercoke.org/
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    The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke is a worldwide movement based on the efforts of thousands of volunteers. Above all, it is a movement of We’s and not I’s, and we need all the help we can get if justice is to prevail.

    Ray Rogers is the director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. His organization, Corporate Campaign, Inc., created the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke to hold The Coca-Cola Company, its bottlers and subsidiaries accountable and to end the gruesome cycle of violence and collaboration with paramilitary thugs, particularly in Colombia. These atrocities include the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders and members of their families in efforts to crush their unions.

    In countries like Colombia and Guatemala, a strong union can mean the difference between life and death for people who dare to challenge corporate and political abuses.

    The Colombian union SINALTRAINAL credits the worldwide campaign against Coke’s abuses as a major part of its struggle for survival and protecting the lives of many of its leaders and members.

    SINALTRAINAL Vice President Juan Carlos Galvis has stated:

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  4. While we’re talking about South America Robert, have you ever seen this. It;s a documantary called “News from a Personal War” about drug wars in the favelas of Rio. It was included on the City of God dvd. It is quite interesting and straight forrward.
    In one scene a police leader actually says the only way he can keep people in line in an area with such disparite incomes is through repression. Very disturbing documentary.

    (56 minutes long)


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