The regional scenario after Dilma

March in Chile against the private pension system.

March in Chile against the private pension system.

By: Raúl Zibechi

The removal of Dilma Rousseff by the most conservative Senate since 1964 (the year of the State coup against João Goulart) closes the progressive cycle that started with the elevation of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on January 1, 2003. Brazil being the region’s most important country and the one that frames tendencies, we’re facing an irreversible inflection in the short term, where the conservative right-wingers impose their agenda.

The South American regional panorama appears clearly dominated by the alliance between financial capital, the United States and the local rights, which demonstrate dynamism that’s difficult to limit short term. One must go back to the beginning of the 1990s to find a similar moment, marked by the triumph of the Washington Consensus, the rise of neoliberalism and the collapse of the socialist block.

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that we are returning to the past, for more than a few analysts believe that “victories” are being lost. Reality indicates that the region walks forward but, immediately, what’s in front of us is not the egalitarian and just society we dream about, but rather an imminent train wreck between those above and those below, and fights between classes, races, genders and generations. Humanity goes towards that conclusion, and that is the medium-range future that is looming over the region.

Strictly speaking, this panorama has already been profiled since several years ago, when the progressives were still governing, because of the growing alliance made between the middle classes (old and new) and the wealthier, in large measure because of the triumph of the consumer culture, de-politicizing and conservative, that those very same governments impelled. But what matters, looking ahead, is the mentioned train wreck.

A new right has been imposed on the region. A right that has no legalistic scruples, that is not disposed to respect the modes of the democracies, that seeks to destroy the education and health systems as we know them. In Brazil the new right has put up the School Without Party Movement, which attacks public education, trashes the legacy of Paulo Freire and seeks to tightly control teachers.

One will have to return with more detail about this “movement,” that promotes the separation between “educating” (the responsibility of the family and the Church) and “instructing” (the transmission of knowledge, which is the task of the teachers). If the laws proposed in the parliament were approved, a portion of the teachers could be punished for “ideological indoctrination,” for talking about the country’s reality, since in the classrooms they applaud publicly, freedom of expression should not exist. Within that reality enters not only the political, but also even violence against women. That’s just a sample of what’s coming.

You don’t have to look backwards to comprehend where the new right is going, in other words, to the period of the dictatorships, but rather to personages like the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who assures she is willing to use nuclear weapons although it may cost innocent lives (The Guardian, 18/7/16). Or like Hillary Clinton, who considers Vladimir Putin the “new Hitler.” They are not isolated or out of context statements, it’s the state of mind of the new rightists, warlike, willing to level entire nations, like they already did to half a dozen countries in Asia and the Middle East.

There have to be two antagonistic forces in dispute in order to have a train wreck. That is what is being profiled in the region. We have gone over the new student and popular struggles in Brazil (, the movements that gain favor in Colombia ( and the new black resistances (, among others.

To those must be added the renewed strength of the campesino movement in Paraguay; resistance to the model of the soybean and mining sectors in Argentina, and, in recent months, to the Macri government’s adjustments; the important women’s mobilizations against macho violence, like that in Peru in August; and the persistence of the indigenous movements in Ecuador and Bolivia.

New and impressive resistances are opening. In August there were enormous mobilizations in Chile, two big marches of more than one million people against the private pension system (AFP), and a cacerolazo, which announces the beginning of the end of the system that was key to the accumulation of capital in the post-Pinochet regime. Nine of every 10 retirements are less than 220 dollars, in other words, less than 60 percent of the minimum wage; therefore, the population demands the end of the private system.

The conviction that corruption is systemic is slowly opening among the popular sectors, like the narco and the femicides, and that it doesn’t matter whether the left or right governs, because things will continue more or less the same. The promised education reform in Chile, which the Communist Party used as an argument for abandoning the streets and entering the government of Michelle Bachelet, was diluted in negotiations with the entrepreneurs and private education continues to be prioritized, as the new student offensive denounces.

In this stage, the system cannot realize reforms in favor of the peoples, because it has no economic or political margin. The economy functions like a machine that extracts, expropriates and concentrates the commons. Politics is reduced to fireworks and gives way, with greater evidence each day to the police to dissolve the conflicts. The principal differences between the colors that govern is of speed in the application of a model that leaves no other alternative than resistance.

The removal of Rousseff by a Senate infested with corrupt politicians could be the occasion for reflecting on the inconvenience of continuing to trust in the so-called “representatives” who are there to return favors to capital and to oppose organization with the utmost energy. No one will do anything for us.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, September 2, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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