See below the document on Latin America discussed, amended and approved at the November 2017 meeting of the CWI International Executive Committee.
In its December 2016 meeting, the CWI IEC confirmed the vision that the period of relative economic and political stability in Latin America had ended. This is a reflection of the international crisis and of the contradictions of capitalist development in the region, peripheral in nature and dependent on imperialism. A new period, marked by great instability and social and political turbulence, has opened up in the sub-continent.
This new scenario included the entry into crisis of “progressive” political forces which since the beginning of the century have capitalised on resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. In the context of the commodity boom, a part of Latin American “progressive” forces, as in the case of the Lula PT governments in Brazil, could opt for a certain “social pact” with limited concessions to the poor in exchange for the maintenance of the privileges of the elite.
In other countries, where the process was more polarised and radicalised, like in Venezuela, oil wealth was used for a greater distribution of wealth and social reforms. In no country was there a break with the capitalist system.
The worsening of the capitalist crisis weakened all “progressive” variants in Latin America and led the core of the Latin American ruling classes to break with the policy of class collaboration and turn towards a counter-offensive to impose new attacks on the workers and poor.
In the context of the crisis of “progressive” alternatives in Latin America, and the absence of new more consequent Left alternatives with a mass base, the right wing has seen a resurgence. Now governments of the neo-liberal right wing have come to power, like Macri in Argentina, Temer in Brazil, Kuczynski in Peru etc. In Venezuela, the right wing won a majority in the National Assembly and used this to advance its reactionary project.
However, as we have said before, this same right wing faces great difficulties in consolidating its power and policies. There is a generalised crisis of political representation which leads to divisions in the bourgeoisie. This is in the context of important mass resistance against new attacks on the working class, indigenous people, women, youth and other oppressed sectors, imposed by these governments.
2017 saw these contradictions deepen and this dynamic will continue in the next period. Latin America is in a conjuncture of historic political and economic crisis.
On the one hand, there is a crisis of economic models based on exportation of raw materials and an increase in domestic consumption based on credit. On the other hand, the return of open neo-liberalism has only deepened these contradictions in the name of easy profits for the capitalists.
From a political point of view, the forms of rule implemented in the last period show clear signs of crisis. This is the case for the “progressive” governments as well as for the explicitly right-wing governments which survived the past period, such as the Peña Nieto (PRI) government in Mexico.
In general, there is an impasse in the region where the old is dying but the new has not yet been born. This context opens the way for all sorts of “morbid phenomena” (paraphrasing Gramsci), including political, economic and social setbacks.
Far from stabilising the situation, the rise of new right-wing governments in countries like Argentina and Brazil, has only polarised the political situation further, provoking a strong response from the working class and poor. This was shown in the biggest general strike in recent history in Brazil on 28 April. It was also seen in the big mobilisations against Macri’s policies in Argentina and the biggest mobilisation of workers since the end of the dictatorship in Chile against the private pension system (AFP) in which our comrades played a key role.
However, as the old trade union and political leaderships of the working class have not put forward a clear alternative path, many attacks have been successfully implemented. The political vacuum which exists can be occupied by reactionary political forces dressed as “new”, or even for establishment forces, based on “lesser evilism”.
The rebuilding of the Left and workers’ movement in Latin America, capable of sweeping reaction aside, can only be achieved on the basis of a political and organisational recomposition of the Socialist Left, based on learning the lessons of past failures and a clear anti-capitalist and socialist perspective. Contributing to this process is a central task of the CWI in Latin America.
Latin American economies deepened their dependency on raw material exports in the last period and were greatly affected by the end of the commodities boom and slowdown in China. The small increase in world trade and in raw material prices in 2017 should lead to a slightly increased level of growth in the region. CEPAL estimates that growth will be 1.2% in Latin America and the Caribbean and double that in 2018.
Brazil and Venezuela are still among the countries with the worst economic situation. In Brazil after 3 years of recession between 2014 and 2016 and an accumulated loss of 8.6% in GDP, the most optimistic estimations predict growth of 0.7% in 2017. This only means that after the longest recession since 1980, the situation has stopped worsening. There is no guarantee that a dynamic of solid growth has begun. The weak growth which we have seen comes mainly from agricultural exports and there is no perspective of growth in domestic consumption. Investment is still paralysed. The political scenario going into Presidential elections in 2018 complicates things even more.
The slow and weak growth is mainly benefitting the richest. The average earnings of the poorest continues to fall. Unemployment remains about 12-13% and there are enormous levels of under-employment while extreme precariousness in work affects the big majority of workers.
In the public sector, there is a situation of fiscal suffocation which has led many states to not pay wages and pensions of public sector workers. Schools and hospitals are at breaking point even in central states like Rio de Janeiro. Without resources from the Federal government, 8,239 public works projects have been paralysed in almost 4,000 municipalities.
Low growth, together with high rates and a fall in revenue, has meant that the public deficit remains on the rise, despite the coming to power of Temer following a coup manoeuvre carried out in the name of fiscal responsibility. From the end of 2014 to July 2017, gross public debt rose from 56.3% to 73.8% of GDP and could reach 80% in 2018. At least half of this debt is linked to the mostly short term interest rates of the Central Bank.
If Brazilian public debt is a time-bomb, Venezuela is reaching an extreme situation. It remains in a state of semi-collapse economically with a new fall in GDP of 8% predicted for 2017 by CEPAL. 4 years of economic contraction which has added up to 36% of GDP.
After enormous efforts to guarantee the prompt payment of foreign debt to international creditors, at enormous cost to the Venezuelan government including scarcity, the Maduro government is looking to re-structure the debt via negotiation with creditors.
The situation greatly worsened following the sanctions imposed by Trump which has already led Venezuela to a partial default. The government won time by negotiating with Russia for a $3 billion loan. It will try the same with China. However, the threat of default remains and if it materialises, it would lead to an even more critical situation in the government's relations with imperialism. Venezuela has overseas assets, including a subsidiary of PDVSA in the USA, which could suffer from severe sanctions.
There is no way out for the Venezuelan economy from the point of view of the workers and poor without measures that break from the logic of capital accumulation in the country and region. A repudiation of the sovereign debt, together with the nationalisation of the banks by a workers' government which could use resources to guarantee supplies of food and medicines for the population, could win strong support from workers in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, and pen up a new wave of offensive struggle throughout the region.
Mexico has many specific features compares with the majority of South America. It suffered from the fall in commodity exports, but not in the same way as countries further south. A small increase in oil exports helped the economy this year but the main factor which defines the Mexican economy is relations with the US and the future of NAFTA. The threat of Trump at the beginning of his administration generated but turbulence in Mexico but little of these risks have been concretised. The Mexican economy is in a situation of stagnation and low growth, without the creation of jobs or an improvement in living standards for the poor.
The earthquake which hit the south east of the country, in the region of Mexico City in September, exposed the failure of the state and the perverse logic of Mexican capitalism. The solidarity and assistance to the victims came from the youth, workers and women, faced with the inaction of the government. 2 years ago the 1985 earthquake was a before/after moment in Mexican history and opened a new stage in the class struggle . There are elements of this in the situation.
Counter-reforms, attacks and resistance
In all countries in the region, governments have responded to the crisis by taking rights away from the working class. In practically every case, these governments have been faced with a powerful resistance which at the same time, has been limited by the role of the old political and trade union leaderships.
Social security and pensions especially have been a key focus of the class struggle throughout the continent, sparking a historic mass movement in Chile, as well as being central to the political agenda of neo-liberal governments in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere.
In Brazil, Temer managed to pass a constitutional reform which freezes public spending for 20 years. Beyond this, he passed a counter-reform to labour law which eliminates historic rights won by the workers movement since the 1930s. Being able to pass these reforms in congress explains why the least popular government in the world (with only 3% support) manages to remain in power. Temer is an instrument of the bug bourgeoisie to do its dirty work and then be discarded.
On the other hand, popular mobilisation and the permanent crisis of the government - with Temer involved in corruption scandals – the President still does not have the votes necessary to approve one of his main objectives: pension reform. If he does not manage to do so this year, it is almost impossible for him to do so during election year, 2018.
Without this counter-reform, his constitutional amendment freezing public spending is made largely unviable, opening up the possibility of the workers' movement defeating this brutal attack.
In Argentina, Macri has passed tariff increases, spending cuts and attacks on rights, but he has had to go much slower than planned due to mass mobilisation and popular opposition. After it won an important victory in October general elections the government is trying to wage a new offensive with a new package of neo-liberal counter-reforms including an attack on pensioners and a labour law counter-reform. Despite the role of the trade union bureaucracy which has acted as a brake, there are already resistance initiatives being taken and struggle is inevitable.
The Bachelet government in Chile has been unable to implement significant attacks on the working class and has had to adopt a rhetoric attempting to echo the mood on the streets, especially in relation to education and the pension system which are the issues to have provoked mass mobilisation by workers and youth in the past period. However the Bachelet government maintains a neo-liberal logic and has not answered any of the demands of the movement on these issues, losing much support.
Despite working class resistance in Mexico, the Nieto government has moved forward in its policy of energy and oil privatisation as well as attacking public education.
The crisis and anti-working class attacks hit historically oppressed sectors hardest, as is the case with women. In all cases where there have been attacks on rights, important mobilisations of women have taken place. It was thus with the “Ni una menos” campaign in various Latin American countries. The struggle against femicide has seen mass mobilisations as has the struggle for abortion rights and against the rolling back of legislation already won.
The situation of economic crisis and inequality increases elements of social barbarism. Despite only representing 8% of the world population, Latin America counts for 33% of murders. 14 of the 20 world municipalities where there are most murders are in the region.
Another aspect of the situation is the consequences of the agri-extractive exportation model on the environment and indigenous communities. In most countries there have been attacks in this area. The extermination of indigenous peoples, advances of capital into their territories, and destruction of the environment are all results of the dependent nature of capitalism in Latin America
In Brazil, the Temer government passed a decree eliminating a natural reserve (RENCA) which covers 47,000 square kilometres in the Amazon. This was in order to benefit mining companies. Due to the enormous repercussions of this action the government was forces to take back the decree. However, the problem remains. In 2016 the deforestation of the Amazon increased by 30% with almost 8,000 square kilometres felled.
Governments considered to be “progressive” also base themselves on an agri-extractivist conception for their economic model. It was the PT government in Brazil which built the Belo Monte, Santo Antonio and Jirau factories in the middle of Amazonia which have done such damage to the environment, indigenous peoples and workers’ rights.
Today, the most emblematic case is in Venezuela in the Orinoco “Mining Arc”, an area of 112,000 square kilometres which was practically handed over to 150 multinationals from 35 countries to exploit hundreds of thousands of minerals for up to 40 years. With this policy, Maduro has damaged both the environment and Venezuelan national sovereignty as well as the social rights of a big part of the country.
Elections and the streets
In Latin America this year hundreds of thousands of workers youth, women and indigenous people have taken to the streets, gone on strike, carried out occupations and all kinds of struggles in defence of their rights, under threat from new and old governments. In many cases, despite their power, these results did not result in victory. Part of these defeats reflect the fact that the old leadership of the movement insists on prioritising electoral activity, via conciliatory policies, over direct struggle.
Between 2018 and 2019, 14 of 21 countries in Latin America will hold presidential elections. Among the most important for perspectives in the region are: Chile this year, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia in 2018 and Argentina in 2019.
In countries like Brazil and Argentina Lulaism and Kirchnerism, removed from power which they held for over a decade, have put all their efforts in the electoral field. Both countries have also seen an increase in mass struggle which has escaped the control of these leaders and could cause problems for their bids to return to power and stability.
In Argentina, the victory of Macri's allies in regional elections in October exposed the failure of this approach. This victory for Macri will be used for a new wave of attacks against the working class. Despite being elected as Senator for Buenos Aires, Christina Kirchner won less votes than Macri's candidate, Bullrich, which impacts on perspectives for the 2019 Presidential elections.
In October's elections, the FIT (Left and Workers Front) won a significant result, especially taking into account the polarisation between Kirchnerism and Macri. 1.5 million people voted for the Left. In total, they elected 40 parliamentarians on the various levels and regions. Though not a growth as but as in past elections, this result puts the FIT clearly on the political map in Argentina.
However, the FIT functions more as an electoral front, with a limited presence as the FIT in day-to-day workers’ struggles.
In the second round of the Chilean Presidential elections which take place on 17 December, Sebastián Piñera from the explicit right wing will face Alejandro Guillier, the candidate supported by the current government. Piñera won more votes in the first round and could return to power in another case of a supposedly “progressive” government (Bachelet's New Majority coalition which again includes the CP) applying right-wing policies, preparing the ground for the traditional right wing returning to power.
However, against the predictions of all polls and dominant bourgeois media discourse, the result of the first round of the elections makes clear the huge space which exists for a Left alternative against both the New Majority and the explicit right-wing. The ‘Broad Front’, led by Presidential candidate, Beatriz Sanchez, won a surprising 20% of the votes (1.3 million), only 2% behind Alejandro Guiller, becoming the third biggest political force in the country.
Piñera, who many thought might win the elections outright in the first round, won a much lower vote than expected – 36% against 22% for Guiller. Therefore, Piñera goes into the second round much weaker than was expected.
Far from a simplistic “turn to the right” represented by Piñera’s rise or the nearly 8% of votes won by the far-right Kast, the headline of the elections was the questioning of the political system: expressed by the increase in votes for the Broad Front on the one hand, and the high abstention rate (only 49% turnout) on the other.
The great challenge now is to fight to occupy the space opened up on the Left in a consequent manner. The Broad Front is an alliance of parties and heterogeneous Left organisations, including moderate reformists, independents and the more Socialist Left. In the Presidential primaries for the Broad Front, the candidate of moderation, Beatriz Sanchez, won against the candidate of the Left, Alberto Mayol. Regarding the second round, we defend that the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) should act as the real opposition, not enter government or negotiate the government’s programme. We call for a vote against Piñera, the right-wing billionaire. At the same time, we cannot call merely for a Guillier vote, as he will represent a continuity of the previous neoliberal governments, refusing to accept the demands of broad masses such as: finish with the private pensions system (AFP), erase university student debt, the CAE (Credits with state guarantee by the banks), and finish with the privatization of healthcare, and the abusive ISAPRES private health institutions.
In any case, the Broad Front is the direct result of the rise of the struggles of youth and workers in Chile in the last years against the education system and pension system inherited from Pinochet. Our comrades, as well as being protagonists in the anti-AFP struggle, also took an active part in the debates around the Broad Front, always defending a programme based on class independence and socialism. Together with the other organizations of the left inside the Broad Front, such us our comrades of the left socialist “movimiento socialista allendista”, we are participating in the MDP (Democratic Popular Movement), and working to build a new left party within the Broad Front
In 2018 we will see the first elections in Colombia following the agreement between the government and the FARC which is today a legal party renamed “Alternative Revolutionary Force for the Common Good” (FARC). The general elections will be held in March 2018 and the first round of Presidential elections in May. The new FARC will probably have its main leader, Timochenko, as Presidential candidate.
Despite this, there is already a crisis in the implementation of the peace agreement. There are still over 1,000 ex-combatants in prison despite the declared amnesty and many others have suffered attacks and reprisals. Only this year, 130 social movement leaders have been recognised as murdered in Colombia.
Brazil – risks, uncertainty and opportunities for 2018
In Brazil, the Lulaist leadership of the of the main trade union federation in the country (the CUT) and of many social movements (National Union of Students, Movement of Rural Landless Workers) have adhered or capitulated to the priority project of the PT, which is electing Lula in the 2018 elections. In the name of this project, Lula diminished the struggle to bring down Temer and initiated a process of rapprochement with sections of the PMDB and other traditional parties.
The perspectives for the 2018 elections in Brazil are completely open. The political crisis, worsened by corruption investigations, the biggest in the history of the country, makes the situation volatile.
Lula would today win a strong majority (around 35% in the first round) in opinion polls against all possible adversaries. With massive public opposition to Temer, Lula seems to many to be the only answer to those in power. This is in the context of many workers feeling frustrated after the defeats in struggles this year.
The second place candidate in polls, with almost 13%, is Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, military reservist and defender of the dictatorship and reactionary on human rights issues, ostensibly anti-feminist, LGBT-phobic etc. He has grown in the vacuum of popular discontent especially among the more conservative middle classes, against traditional politics and a search for a tough response to the current chaos, corruption and what he terms the threat of “communism”!
The traditional right-wing, especially the PSDB, is deeply divided and none of its candidates has good electoral possibilities at the moment. Even the “novelty” of the new mayor of Sao Paolo, Joao Doria, a businessman who was elected as someone seen as outside the political system, seems to be waning. Doria is in conflict with his mentor, Sao Paolo governor Geraldo Alckmin, in the fight for the PSDB Presidential nomination. The fall in support for Doria, as mayor and as Presidential candidate makes his candidacy less likely, but the struggle continues.
The scenario of a second round between Lula and Bolsonaro terrorises sections of the bourgeoisie. Lula thinks, with reason that in this scenario a considerable part of the bourgeoisie would have to opt for him again against the uncertainty of Bolsonaro’s extremist adventure.
Bolsonaro, while maintaining his anti-communist, proto-fascist rhetoric is also looking for agreements with more serious sections of the big bourgeoisie to establish himself as the anti-Lula candidate who will not be a risk for the ruling class. He has adopted a more liberal economic position, in contradiction with his defence of the dictatorship installed in 1964 in which the generals were much more pro-state intervention and nationalist than their other South American counterparts.
Despite this effort it is very improbable that the Brazilian bourgeoisie will unite around Bolsonaro. If no PSDB candidate seems viable, it cannot be ruled out that a section of the Brazilian bourgeoisie using it media monopoly, builds up an alternative, more reliable, figure.
If the economic results are not very bad, this figure could be the Interior Minister Henrique Meirelles, on whom the elite could be unanimous, and could even be supported by some PT politicians. He was President of the Central Bank during the Lula governments and was Lula’s proposal for Interior Minister under Dilma.
Another name, from the judicial system, is ex-Minister of the Supreme Tribunal, Joaquim Barbosa, who could also play this role. It is also not ruled out that a figure could emerge from the TV/art world, such as presenter Luciano Huck.
However, the Lula candidacy is threatened by the convictions he has already received in the Lava Jato corruption case. One of the objectives of the bourgeoisie behind this case is taking Lula out of the race. At the same time, sectors of the ruling class know that such an arbitrary measure could provoke even more polarisation and radicalisation.
Without Lula, the race would radically change. In this situation it would even be possible for a Left alternative, organised around PSOL, to grow and occupy part of the vacuum.
Re-organisation of the Brazilian Left
If Lula is not a candidate, the chances that the main leader of Brazilian social movements today, Guilherme Boulos from the MTST, could stand in Presidential elections, would grow.
Boulos is a figure who, despite maintaining a priority relationship with PSOL (he supported PSOL in the last elections) is also well accepted by the social base of Lula and the PT. He is critical of past governments of the PT and their class-collaborationist policy and maintenance of neo-liberalism. However he combines this with an emphatic defence of unity in action against Temer and his attacks.
The political project of Boulos and the MTST leadership is to promote a process of re-organisation of the Brazilian Left along the lines of Podemos in Spain, with whom they have close relations. A possible Presidential campaign would be part of this process. For this, PSOL would affiliate to it and a broad alliance of movements, activists and Left parties would be built.
It is a project to overcome Lulaism and the PT from the Left but also means going beyond PSOL as it currently exists. If this means widening the social base of PSOL and linking it more directly with the struggles taking place such as thos wages by the PTST, it would be excellent. However, there is still the risk that this process would see opportunist sectors coming from the PT come on board and pressure PSOL to take more moderate positions, capitulating to Lulaism.
Boulos thinks that it would make no sense to put forward a Presidential candidate if Lula is a candidate, channelling all votes critical of Temer, through lesser-evilism. In this scenario he would not stand and could support the PSOL candidate in the first round. If there was a second round there would be huge pressure to support a critical vote for Lula against the right wing.
The PT and Lula also try to influence the MTSTS and Boulos to try and “renovate” their discredited campaign which is distant from the original social base of the PT. However, Lula and the PT still mainly bases itself on agreements at the top to govern and manage capitalism better than the traditional parties. The PT leaned no lessons from its fall from power. Beyond a slightly more combative rhetoric in opposition, it still defends the same policies as when it was in government.
The fact that Boulos has positioned himself in closer to Lula than some expected, has made sections of the Left (inside and outside PSOL) fall into a simplistic characterisation of him as part of Lula’s project. These sectors adopting an ultra-Left position see PSOL’s coming together with Boulos as a threat to the party and its dissolution within Lulaism. The risk and threat of capitulation to Lulaism has always and will always exist for the majority sector of PSOL. However, the best position in this context is defending the unity of PSOL with the most dynamic section of the mass movement in Brazil today and at the same time struggle for a socialist programme and strategy for this process of re-organisation.
The Povo Sem Medo’ front, a front of struggle led by the MTST, organised a series of programmatic debates through plenaries and consultations on the internet throughout the country. More than 200,000 people participated online. Despite being a heterogeneous movement in its composition (the debates includes PSOL, independents, and even the PT even though they did not have much weight) the final result points in the direction of a programme which brings together the main demands of the social movements and general defence of radical reforms, focussing on class struggle as the means to achieve them.
The deadline for defining Boulos’ candidacy would be March 2018. PSOL is holding its congress in December and the majority will probably support putting off the decision until March. LSR defends that the party should define its programme for the elections democratically in its congress (which has seen various irregularities). We support continuing discussions with Boulos, but that the party should choose an alternative name for if Boulos does not stand. We are against this decision being taken by a small leadership with no discussion.
Venezuela – polarisation continues
In Venezuela, the electoral victory of Chávez opened a profound revolutionary process. Two decades later, capitalism has still not been broken with, with the maintenance of a capitalist economy and state. This has been accompanied by the development of a bureaucracy that uses a socialist discourse but has tended to become increasingly independent from the masses, accumulate privileges and merge its interests with sectors of the bourgeoisie.
Under Maduro this process has taken a qualitative leap. The government is still talking about socialism but seeks to manage capitalism in alliance with the Chinese and Russian imperialists. As part of this objective, they insist on seeking agreements with sectors of the bourgeoisie. This, in a context that includes the fall of oil income, means applying measures such as cutting some social items, raising prices, reducing thousands of jobs in public companies or the ‘Mining Arc’ project. The result has been to weaken support for the PSUV and allow the right to advance, which won the legislative elections of 2015, and was able to organize mass mobilizations in September-October 2016 and April-June 2017.
The objective of this latest offensive, which caused more than 100 deaths, was to force a coup d'etat and take power. Maduro and the bureaucracy did not respond by mobilizing the masses but with Bonapartist measures, granting more and more political and economic power to the military leadership and developing parallel clientelist measures to contain social unrest and strengthen their bureaucratic control of the movement.
The calling of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) was part of this strategy. It sought to break the blockade of the legislative power by the MUD and legitimize a new democratically elected body, but tightly under the control of the bureaucracy. The initial response of the masses was very cold. Everything changed with the actions of the fascist gangs, like the lynching and burning of several activists, the threats of US imperialism and the boycott by the MUD of the elections. This pushed millions of people, including sectors that had fallen into apathy, to participate in a massive way. A very broad sector did so supporting candidates who were ‘critical chavistas’. Only the pressures of the bureaucracy (in some cases even fraud) and the internal division among these dissident candidacies prevented the victory of several of them.
The defeat of the counterrevolutionary plan to seize power has opened a new phase in the class struggle. The MUD is divided and in crisis. They have suffered an increase in abstention in their traditional fiefdoms and lost the regional ones in October. This could be repeated in the municipal ones of December. Interestingly, the electoral victory of the PSUV (18 of 23 governors) has also been accompanied by an increase in discomfort and internal contradictions, reciprocal accusations of corruption among sectors of the bureaucracy and important support, again, for critical candidacies. A paradigmatic case is Caracas. The polls give massive support to the candidacy of former minister Eduardo Saman, seen by the grassroots as more on the left and critical of the bureaucracy, compared to the candidate supported by the PSUV and the government.
Although the capacity for mobilization and electoral support of the right wing are today very weak, the continuity of the economic disaster generates conditions for them to recover the initiative. This also pushes sectors of Chavez bases and layers of the working class, despite the enormous difficulties for the political activity that creates the economic collapse, and the maneuvers and attempts of coercion and repression of the bureaucracy, to continue looking for an alternative. The task of the Marxists is to intervene in this movement defending a united front of the critical Left of Chavism with a revolutionary program that unifies and mobilizes the workers and the poor people to combat the counterrevolutionary threat of the MUD but also organizing the fight against the bureaucracy to conquer all the political and economic power for the workers, opening the way to the socialist transformation of Venezuela and of all Latin America.
In a context of “progressive” or centre-Left governments being replaced by right wing alternatives, Mexico is potentially heading in the opposite direction. The neo-liberal Nieto government of the PRI has low support and there is generalised discontent. On the other hand, Morena, the party of Andres Manoel Lopes Obrador (AMLO) has grown and has a concrete possibility of winning elections in 2018.
Local elections in June showed that there is a strong mood for change, despite the limits of the Left alternative and the structural fraud in the Mexican political system. In Mexico state, the PRI lost almost half its votes since the last elections. Right wing alternatives like the PAN, or even the PRD which allied itself with the right in many regions, did not do much better. Morena became the biggest force in the metropolitan region and strengthened itself going into the 2018 elections.
The more AMLO chances of victory grow the more he and Morena shift to the right in his public positions, AMLO is reproducing Lula’ evolution during his 2002 campaign, looking to calm the markets and investors and the ruling class promising not to bring about any “rupture”. AMLO and Morena are also distant from the mass struggles such as the education workers’ movement.
This “moderation” approach adopted by AMLO will not even guarantee that he will not be victim of electoral fraud. Only mass struggle and a candidacy against the hegemony of the PRI and neo-liberalism of the PAN can create a force which can viably stand up to fraud.
The Zapatistas (EZLN) and National Indigenous Congress, have also implemented their agreement in their last congress to stand a woman indigenous candidate. They chose María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, known as Marichuy. It is more of an “anti-candidature” to denounce the situation and mainstream politics. Despite not having much consequence the EZLN campaign could attract a layer of youth in the context of AMLO’s shift towards moderation.
Sense of urgency
The weakening and defeat of “progressive” political forces in Latin America opens up a space for a recovery of the traditional right wing. However, with the failure of the new right wing regimes, some old references of the traditional Left have won a new lease of life despite being unable to face up to the great challenges facing the peoples of Latin America or removing the right from power.
As in the case of Brazil, a possible new Lula government if it happens would be incapable of attending to the demands of the people and would rapidly take the country towards extreme polarisation and instability. If in this context a new mass socialist Left is not built, much discontent can be channelled through non-traditional right wing or far right forces.
We do not have much time to prepare for this scenario and build solid foundations for the forces of revolutionary socialism in Latin America. We must arm our comrades with a sense of urgency for our revolutionary work.