Changes in the Backyard

Guido Proaño A.

Two events of enormous significance that mark the circumstances and tendencies that characterise the regional political scene have taken place in our continent in recent months. One is the resolution adopted at the 39th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which enables Cuba to take its place in that organisation and speaks to the change in the relation of political and social forces in the Americas; the other, the coup d’état that took place on June 28 in Honduras, for which the oligarchy of that country counted on the backing of the government in Washington.

Until the 1990s, the United States interfered completely in all the daily affairs of the governments of the region – except of course in Cuba, and military interventions were part of its diplomacy when the problems were greater, as the invasions of the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Panama show. But now the situation has changed, the existence of several progressive governments shows the qualitative change that has taken place in the last years. The political camp has been divided between democratic governments – more moderate or more ‘radical’ – and the right. This, in turn, has opened the debate between deepening the progressive policies carried out by these governments, remaining in the policy of development and reformism or opting for a genuinely revolutionary path.

Although some analysts taken as a reference point for this change the first electoral victory of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (1998), the fact is that this change was building before the heat of the popular mobilisation in different parts of the Americas. The protests in Caracas in 1989 against neo-liberal structural adjustment, the popular rebellion in Cochabamba (Bolivia in 2000) against the privatisation of water, as well as the popular uprisings that put an end to governments servile to imperialism in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay showed the revival and development of the popular movement in each of the countries, the longing for change of the peoples and the changes that took place in the political arena. The Summit of the Presidents in Mar del Plata (November of 2005) already gave notice to George Bush of what was happening; the United States was unable to restart the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas – translator’s note] negotiations, the Venezuelan Government and the members of MERCOSUR [South American Common Market – translator’s note] closed ranks against this, but above all a great social opposition movement ran through the continent.

This explains the political-electoral victories of Chavez, Lula, Evo, Vazquez, Correa... [presidents of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Ecuador respectively – translator’s note] that have made this sub-continent a territory which is gradually ceasing to be the backyard of Yankee imperialism, in which things proceeded according to their wishes. This is an assertion that we make cautiously, since the oligarchy has not been destroyed in any of these countries. It is acting and working against the progressive political processes. The work of imperialism to subvert this tendency exists on all sides; there are countries such as Colombia and Peru in which the weaknesses of the popular movement have not yet allowed sinister figures such as Uribe and Garcia to be thrown out of the government; and the errors and political limitations of some governments have cleared the way for the recovery of the right, as in Argentina.

Imperialism until now has been tolerant towards several of those governments, but this does not mean it is being complacent. In April of 2002 it tried unsuccessfully to put an end to the government of Hugo Chavez and in its place to set up a reactionary Government of business owners and bankers; in Bolivia the first coup attempts were revealed in 2007, and in both cases the Yankee embassy played the role of the centre of the conspiracy.

The coup d’état in Honduras may well mark a change in the policy of the United States towards the region. There is no lack of those who have illusions about the presence of Barak Obama in the White House, but surely reality will be striking them. The return of President José Manuel Zelaya in Honduras is not the only thing at stake; they are rehearsing a reactionary political project to generalise it in the region, which is why the fight of that people against those who made the coup demands our total solidarity.

Paradoxically, it was in Honduras where the OAS met to readmit Cuba, and now it is the centre of a political crisis in which the right wing and imperialism have begun a crusade to settle accounts with the progressive governments that are raising sovereignty as one of their major political banners.

Published by Ecuadorlibre, July 29, 2009

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