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Latin America

November 2005 (Volume 57, Number 6)

Notes from the Editors

Speaking in New York to the United Nations in September Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez delivered a fiery speech sharply critical of U.S. imperialism and what he called a “frightening neoliberal globalization.” Chávez denounced the blatant manipulation of the United Nations to support U.S. geopolitical ambitions and military aggression. He condemned the U.S. government for allowing Christian evangelist Pat Robertson and others to call openly for his assassination in violation of international law | more…

Hugo Chávez on the Failed Coup

This article is excerpted from Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chávez Talks to Marta Harnecker to be published by Monthly Review Press in September. The book covers a wide range of topics, including Chávez’s political formation, the transformation currently taking place in Venezuela, and its place in the global context. In what follows, Chávez recounts the events of the failed coup d’etat of April 11, 2002.—Eds | more…

The FARC-EP in Colombia: A Revolutionary Exception in an Age of Imperialist Expansion

The United States and the Colombian ruling oligarchy have, since the 1960s, repeatedly implemented socioeconomic and military campaigns to defeat the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC–EP). However, this offensive, whose main purpose is to maintain capitalist accumulation and expansion, has resulted in an embarrassing setback for U.S. imperialism and the Colombian ruling class. In a time of growing and deepening U.S. imperialism, it is important to examine this failure. Over the past four decades, despite U.S. efforts, support has risen for what has been the most important continuous military and political force in South America opposing imperialism. I examine how the FARC–EP has not only maintained a substantial presence within the majority of the country but has responded aggressively to the continuing counterinsurgency campaign. I also show as false the propaganda campaign of the U.S. and Colombian governments claiming that the FARC–EP is being defeated. This analysis provides an example of how a contemporary organic, class-based sociopolitical movement can effectively contend with imperial power in a time of global counterrevolution | more…

Left-Indigenous Struggles in Bolivia: Searching for Revolutionary Democracy

La Paz, the Bolivian capital, rests in a deep valley in the heart of the Andes. The geographical terrain of the city is marked clearly with deep class divisions and the racist legacies of Spanish colonial impositions and ongoing internal colonialism, present since the founding of the republic in 1825. The indigenous peoples-over 60 percent of the population according to the 2001 census-have suffered at the bottom of a wickedly steep social hierarchy that whitens in accordance with class privilege | more…

Mexico’s Labor Movement in Transition

The Mexican labor movement has been undergoing a profound transformation in the last ten years, the result of twenty years of neoliberal economic policies and the transformation of the Mexican one-party state. A new independent labor movement has emerged which has not only broken with the old state-controlled labor-relations system, but has also put itself forward as the leader of the social movements, and, at the moment, appears as a real political force that can challenge the government. | more…

Made in Venezuela: The Struggle to Reinvent Venezuelan Labor

Last month, the National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT) turned two. Since its inception in May 2003, the UNT has been at the center of debates surrounding the advances of Venezuela’s revolution in the labor arena. At root, these debates turn on issues of worker control: over their factories and over their unions. Democracy is at the heart of the attempt by Venezuelan workers to reinvent a labor movement long characterized by corruption and class collaboration | more…

Report from Venezuela: Aluminum Workers Choose Their Managers and Increase Production

Alcasa, a state-owned aluminum processing plant in the southeastern state of Bolívar, has long been an important employer in a region where the lion’s share of Venezuela’s mining and processing plants are located. Yet since the mid-1990s it has been plagued by inefficiency and corruption. According to Trino Silva, secretary general of the union, Alcasa’s production has been in “the red” for the past sixteen years. Though the aluminum they produce is in high demand and despite considerable production increases over the past few years, the company has been unable to turn a profit. Silva blames a corrupt factory management that used Alcasa as its piggy bank throughout the 1990s, all the while holding the threat of privatization over workers’ heads. It was no idle threat. A few miles down the road, SIDOR, one of Latin America’s largest steel plants and long the pride of the state Venezuelan Corporation of Guyana (CVG), was privatized in 1997. From a workforce approaching 20,000 full-time direct employees (with several thousand more contract and temporary workers) in the late 1980s, SIDOR has downsized to only 4,000 direct employees and approximately 6,000 contract workers | more…

Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy

Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy

In this masterful new study, Besancenot and Löwy explore and situate Guevara’s ethical, revolutionary, and humanist legacy. They explicate Guevara’s emphasis on the importance of the individual coming to understand and accept socialism at a personal level. For Guevara, Besancenot and Löwy show, the revolutionary project demands more than a transformation of the mode of production; it demands a profound transformation of the individual, the birth of what Guevara termed the ‘new man.’ Besancenot and Löwy also explore Guevara’s pragmatic approach to the question of state power and unique theoretical contributions to the question of the transition to socialism. | more…

Prevention and Solidarity: Democratizing Health in Venezuela

Halfway up the hill, in a semi-finished, rustic house, a sheet divides the consulting room from the treatment room. Rarely is there a need to identify oneself upon arrival. “How are you Mr. Antonio, has your pressure decreased?” says the fifty-three-year-old Venezuelan nurse Carlota Núñez. Antonio goes in and, little by little, the inhabitants of the neighborhood Las Terrazas de Oropeza Castillo, municipality Sucre, Caracas move through the waiting room | more…

On Revolutionary Medicine

This simple celebration, another among the hundreds of public functions with which the Cuban people daily celebrate their liberty, the progress of all their revolutionary laws, and their advances along the road to complete independence, is of special interest to me | more…

December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

Notes from the Editors

New Political Science, a journal associated with the Caucus for a New Political Science, has devoted its entire September 2004 number to “The Politics of Empire, Terror and Hegemony.” The quality of the contributions to this special issue, some of them by MR and MR Press authors, including David Gibbs, Sheila Collins, Edward Greer, and William Robinson, is remarkable. In particular, Greer’s essay on the use of torture by the United States in the “Global War on Terror” uncovers facts that no one can afford to ignore. The deep impression that this essay and the reporting on U.S. acts of torture by Mike Tanner, writing for the New York Review of Books (October 7, 2004), have had on our own thinking is evident in this month’s Review of the Month | more…