Document Preview
  • Full Text
  • Magazine

Progressive Fatigue?

Full text preview



Coming to terms with the Latin American Left's new "coyuntura"

When major historical processes come to an end, and in turn major political defeats transpire, confusion and despondency set in, desire intermingles with reality, and the most coherent analytical frameworks blur Something like this is happening right now in South America, after a promising decade in which transformative social movements joined with governments in an effort to overcome a long history of dependency through regional integration.

The progressive period, which came after a decade of neoliberalism, was possible thanks to spaces that social movements opened up against the so-called "Washington Consensus." It began with the Caracazo in 1989, when those who lived in the hillside slums surrounding Caracas took to the streets to protest the structural adjustment policies adopted by the Venezuelan government and inspired by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Without this spontaneous and often chaotic popular agitation, the de legitimization of the privatization model of the 1990s-and the political class that imposed it-would not have occurred.

The emergence of either progressive or leftist governments (according to various conflicting definitions of the terms), which arose starting in 1999 in Venezuela and continued well into the new century in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and beyond, represented a breath of fresh air. What these new governments promised was appealing to the region's popular movements, who in most cases had long ago stopped listening-even if such promises were difficult to fulfill. After 2000, regional movements began to connect with one another in the social forums of Porto Alegre, and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), established in April 2007, eventually provided a formal architecture for continuing and deepening this cooperation.

The new historical moment in the region was built upon several foundations: the aforementioned popular activism with its capacity for...