La Izquierda y el Imperio / Oswaldo Barreto

The Left and Empire

The theme in vogue for Latin Americanists is the rotation towards the left that's being experienced at this moment throughout the continent. From Foreign Affairs, the dean of North American political magazines, to Spain’s El País, perhaps the European newspaper that concerns itself with Latin America most extensively and with the most depth, the great media of both continents have repeatedly focused their attention on this matter. And, along with this media vogue, we find this historic turn is taken as an unquestioned reality, as the base from which one must start in order to understand whatever happens now in each and all of the Latin American nations. And let this be very clear: it is not the analysts, the “opinion makers,” who are telling us the hour of the left has arrived along with the correlative retreat of the right, but rather it is the people themselves who have been able to make this, their old dream, an evident and palpable reality. Yes, it is the diverse people of the entire continent, the originating people, the new people or the transplanted people, as Darcy Ribeiro says when he speaks of our variegated populations, who have brought the forces of the left into power. A radical and promising transformation that, without any real previous coordination or formal pre-established agenda, is being accomplished, it seems, inexorably throughout the entire continent to the south of the Rio Grande. A phenomenon so much more surprising, a few of these analysts say, because it's not the product of violent battles in the cities or in the rural areas, but instead is coming from the very calm and peaceful popular will expressed through the ballot box.

A turn, then, to the left in the Americas that, according to some analysts and not a few heads of state, occasions as a necessary consequence the liberation of the Latin American and Caribbean people from the imperialist yoke, particularly from the yoke imposed by North American imperialism. It's already sustained in newspapers and magazines that the United States has lost control of the Latin American countries. And for leaders like Chávez, Castro and Morales, every encounter and every accord between Latin American presidents is a step toward liberation from the empire, a step toward the real emancipation of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The liberation of the Latin American people? The end of the North American Empire? My God, how far we remain from the conception the left developed for itself, since the era of the Communist Manifesto, regarding what a real emancipation and independence meant. What people today, what nations are effectively independent in relation to the powers of the United States, in relation to the military-industrial complex of the United States? If we look at things rigorously, not even those nations who have reached the United States’ level of industrial development are independent.

“Of course,” we will be told, “but that’s not the type of independence we’re talking about, what we mean is political independence. Now the people can give themselves leftist governments without suffering the reprisals that were endured during the previous century by the people of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile or Panama.” But that, which has yet to be seen as a consolidated reality, remains at a great distance, a very great distance from true Latin American emancipation, from true independence facing the United States.

And it remains the case that this independence has never been conquered in the ballot boxes or in the battlefields. There we have the history of Cuba to demonstrate this point authentically.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, TalCual, 5 May 2006 }

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