Rosanne is wondering whether the leftward-tilt South America is taking is major enough to shake the world. I think it is. The U.S. is dependent on Venezuela for oil, fighting a clandestine war in Colombia in the name of the war on drugs, a war that involves Bolivia’s leader, former coca grower Evo Morales, and assassinated the democratically-elected leader of Chile, Salvador Allende, in 1973. And since Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil all have socialist or leftist heads of state, that means the U.S., and the rest of the world, is nervous.
I think these have been very positive signs. In America, most Native Americans are either wiped out, desperately poor, or running casinos, and they make up a tiny percentage of our population, but in South America they’re still a huge part of the populace, and have been unjustly screwed by folks of European breeding for the last five hundred years. So it’s amazing that two indigenous leaders — Chavez in Venezuela and Morales in Bolivia — have arisen.
These countries have both had WMO-style “shock therapy” applied to them by white outsiders and, as a result, they’re even poorer than before (Read James Surowieki’s account of this in the recent New Yorker). It’s time leaders stepped up from the people and tried new tactics, even if (or especially if) they come with a left-leaning ideology. The right-wing ideology of folks like Pinochet led to decades of despair, poverty, and death, with a handful of rich Euro-Americans getting rich off the backs of the poor and brutally suppressing dissent.
And when these governments start spouting anti-American rhetoric — calling the U.S. imperialist and invoking the ultimate South American anti-imperialist, Simon Bolivar — and make a show of how much oil they control by offering it to poor Americans, as Hugo Chavez did recently, these changes start rippling beyond the southern hemisphere.
So yes, Rosanne, I think this will have an impact on a global scale, and the American government is quite concerned about it.