1) Main events in Latin America in 2016: US elections, Pink Tide Fights Back? (Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil) Peace in Colombian? Cuba: in from the Cold and OAS v CELAC in Haiti.
2) Recommended Latin American Sources.
3) Conclusion about Latin American prospects in the coming period.
1. The coming year:
Bernie Sanders v The Rest. Foreign policy is incredibly unimportant to US presidential elections but extremely important to the rest of the world. It is likely that President Sanders would reign in the deep state/ establishment/ neo-cons to at least some extent. This could impact TPP, ‘Plan Colombia (and the peace process there), normalization of relations with Cuba and the Drug War, the latter with huge ramifications for Mexico and across the region. President Bernie would represent a massive shift; the prospect of any other candidate is a grim continuation of the status quo.
A new period has begun for the three largest Pink Tide governments in Venezuela and Brazil, and now in opposition, Argentina (see previous LAsitreps below for details). The situation on the ground varies widely, but the Left is certainly vying to regain the initiative; the Right, dominant in each country up until the turn of the century, is not nearly as powerful as back then. However, Brazil is in turmoil, Argentina has a neo-liberal President and in Venezuela the neo-liberal opposition has a double majority in Parliament.
The demobilization of 1000s of paramilitaries controlled by Colombian oligarchs constitutes a huge shift of power away from the violent latifundia, whilst the gradual merger of the peaceful and violent opposition to the US-backed elite is extremely promising in the long-run. Peace in Colombia, after 68 years of conflict, has massive implications for the country and the whole region. For one, it would pretty much establish South America as a ‘nuclear-free zone of peace’, and key objective of UNASUR.
Socialist Cuba, incredibly, victorious against all odds. That a poor island nation has thumbed its nose at ‘The Great Satan’ from distance of 110 miles, whilst breaking records in education and health, and facilitating the 21st Pink Tide phenomenon through both its example and its humanitarian aid is absolutely outstanding. Not only did it survive the collapse of the USSR, it tightened its belt, bounced back and, now, has won. Is a roll-back possible? With a new US president? Like Iran, I doubt it; business is business:
The OAS in 1962 expelled Cuba for being ‘communist’. Cuba has now joined the regional organisation CELAC from which only the US / Canada are excluded. A key success of the Pink Tide, and one which promises to endure any change of power in individual countries, CELAC both represents and is a symptom of the very real challenge to US hegemony taking place in the region. The opening battle in the CELAC – OAS confrontation is playing out in Haiti in the dispute over the recent fraudulent election; both now have observers on the ground. Both have very different loyalties.
2. Sources I recommend following events across the LA region here:
• Telesur English (a real staple)*:
• Strategic Culture (especially Nil Nikandrov):
• Americas Program (high quality but few articles)
• Upsidedownside world (high quality but few articles)
• Venezuelanalysis (Venezuela centric, Chavista)
• Merco Press (Argentina centric, a bit right-wing)
*Watching the world through Telesur, as opposed to CNN espaNol, is like being in a different dimension. It really is a powerful achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution and the Pink Tide, and it’s here to stay. The others have been my favourites for many years and I highly recommend them (although not necessarily all individual pieces they publish).
3. Conclusion: Year 2016
There are no significant elections in LA this year. Furthermore, the region is all but devoid of real ‘heavy-weight leaders’. There is Morales but, ultimately, Bolivia is a poor country with a small population. Fidel is alive but old and not in power. Correa is stepping down. Cristina Kirchner is in opposition. Dilma is besieged and in her last term. Maduro has yet to prove his mettle. We may well see these leaders establish themselves, and others emerge, but gone are the days of Chavez, Lula, Nestor Kirchner mixing it up with President Fidel.
Never-the-less, institutions such as ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC live on, as do many people provided with healthcare, education and housing by the Pink Tide. So too does Telesur, a powerful weapon in the information war, that is watched by hundreds of millions of people who have directly benefited from Pink-Tide social-spending. LA is an extremely interesting front in the consolidating resistance to Western imperialism; social movements are continuing to effectively challenge the US-backed neo-liberal elite across the region. However, because 2016 is an election year in the US, and because the LA has few elections of its own this year, much depends on Bernie, and the Latino voters. See: