Latin America Solidarity News 2nd Jan 2006
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“FILMS UNDER THE STARS” series: “VIVA SÃO JOÃO!”
Free screening of “Viva São João”, by Andrucha Waddington, with
Gilberto Gil, Dominguinhos and others, at the Wellington Botanic Gardens, on Thursday,
22nd February 2007. This event is being organized and promoted by the Cuba Street Carnival Trust in
conjunction with the Embassy of Brazil in Wellington and the NZ Film Archive.
When: Thursday 22nd February, 2007, from 9pm
Where: The Dell, Wellington Botanic Garden, Main Entrance, Tinakori Road
How much? Free... Come along and bring your friends!
US and Latin America: Overview for 2006
The weakest link in Washington’s projected strategy in Latin America is the re-emergence of socio-political movements, like those which burst forth in the late 1990’s and first years of the new century: The MST in Brazil, the workers, peasant and Indian movements in Bolivia and Ecuador and the mass uprising in Oaxaca and electoral protests in Mexico are in the process of re-grouping, none having suffered a historic defeat.
Chavez targets Venezuela homeless woes :
President Hugo Chavez has pledged to do away with homelessness in Venezuela through an aggressive outreach program that is offering street people communal housing, drug treatment and a modest stipend.
Pinochet: : A Declassified Documentary Obit:
As Chile prepared to bury General Augusto Pinochet, the National Security Archive today posted a selection of declassified U.S. documents that illuminate the former dictator's record of repression. The documents include CIA records on Pinochet's role in the Washington D.C. car bombing that killed former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American colleague Ronni Moffitt.
As Castro Fades, A Crop Of New Leaders
Interviews with two younger political figures suggest a gradual opening both economically and socially.
By Tom Fawthrop http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1227/p06s01-woam.html
'Children Are the Hope of the World' Says Che's Daughter
MILAN, Dec 14 (Tierramérica) - Aleida Guevara March has the eyes of
her famous father, the revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara. She
speaks energetically, as if she is attempting to convince a full
auditorium of her ideas. But she also smiles tenderly as she
remembers her father.
The pediatric allergist, 46, still refers to Cuba's ailing President
Fidel Castro as "tio" (uncle), and is confident of his recovery. Once
active in the Union of Young Communists, she now combines her work in
a children's hospital in Havana with frequent trips around the world
to promote what she considers the achievements of the Caribbean
island nation's socialist regime, among them, universal access to
Poverty Crushes Guatemala
Guatemala, Dec 26 (Prensa Latina) After having signed a peace
agreement, extreme poverty currently affects over 60 percent of the
population in Guatemala, where the war wages on, analysts said here.
Amid the armed conflict in 1989, about 80 percent of Guatemalans were
poor, and 59.3 lived in abject poverty, chiefly in rural areas, a
situation that experts consider has not changed in the Central
"The social stage set by the war still prevails," said Nadia
Sandoval, from Human Rights International Investigation Center in
The representative of the European Commission in Guatemala, Jo úo
Melo de Sampaio, said it was a contradiction to have an apparently
stable macro-economy to international eyes while there are such
domestic impoverishment exists.
According to local press, the country is not only socially divided
with a high percentage of abandoned native people in the countryside,
but huge differences in the concentration of wealth.
Oaxaca, an Irreversible Crisis
the Oaxaca social conflict that broke
on May 22 in Mexico, with 70,000 local teachers demonstrating for
higher salaries, became the most significant political, social crisis
in the country in the last few years.
On that day, teachers of Section 22nd of the National Education
Workers Union could not even imagine they would start an irreversible
process that includes many commitments.
Slowness and disdain of federal authorities, intransigence of a local
governor who is clung on to power, the framework of interests of
Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and Accion Nacional (PAN) parties,
as well as the presence of police forces have all turned Oaxaca into
a vicious circle.
But, contrary to what politicians and observers may think, this
southern Mexican coastal state is today a powder keg, where a
solution to the conflict gets complicated, as the domination system
prevailing there was broken, and reconstruction of society cannot be
guaranteed by repression.
Far from serving as a dissuasion factor, state constraint has
encouraged resistance against Governor Ulises Ruiz, who for more than
six months has been urged to resign his post due to the high level of
ungovernability prevailing in the area.
Known as land of the sun, indigenous sanctuary of Mexico, birthplace
of national heroes and other names, Oaxaca is among worst hit Mexican
places when it comes to poverty, marginalization and backwardness.
At least 40 percent of its economically active population do not get
any payment for their work, and 60 percent of those lucky to be paid
earn less than a minimal wage a day. In contrast, just a tyre of one
of the governor's cars costs 2,400 dollars.
In the light of these realities, on June 14 Ruiz ordered a brutal
removal of teachers and social activists from their sit-ins, all of
which left 92 people wounded, including several with serious
injuries, according to official figures. A strong popular movement
Then, led by Oaxaca's Popular Assembly of the Peoples (Asamblea
Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, APPO), grouping unions, as well as
indigenous, students, worker organizations and several settlers,
Oaxaca residents gave free rein to a broad mass movement of a
unitary, opposition nature.
Successive clashes with local and state police ensued, including the
occupation of main government buildings, the lifting of barricades,
street blockings and occupation of Universidad Radio, all of which
were responded by arbitrary detention, torture and violation of
Based on a skillful policy of alliances, APPO managed to build a
network of resistance and peaceful civil disobedience capable of
facing the state executive and paramilitary groups, only stopped by
the entry of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) into Oaxaca on October 29.
However, a lack of sensitivity in the Congress of the Republic to
declare the disappearance of powers in the area triggered not only a
radicalization of APPO, but also the most violent clash with PFP,
with 17 people killed and more than 284 detained.
Over 10 rounds of talks between APPO and representatives of the
Ministry of Interior and efforts made by senators and deputies bared
no fruit in finding a solution to the conflict.
Stuck in political interests of PRI and PAN, the Oaxaca crisis is in
a blind alley, on the brink of an increased social violence,
especially after the detention of main APPO leaders.
In opinion of the country's opposition progressive forces, the Oaxaca
conflict is a complex political issue that requires the resignation
of the state governor to be solved, as many recognize.
It is a reflection of ungovernability and incapacity to build bridges
of understanding, as well as incompetence to channel social demands
with firm, radical solutions.
Poll: Venezuelans Have Highest Regard for Their Democracy
Wednesday, Dec 20, 2006 - Gregory Wilpert -
Venezuelans view their democracy more favorably than
the citizens of all other Latin American countries view
their own democracies, except Uruguay, according to a
new survey released by the Chilean NGO Latinbarometro
last Saturday. Also, Venezuela is in first place in
several measures of political participation, compared
to all other Latin American countries.
According to the Latinobarometro survey, Venezuelans
rank their democracy as being more fully realized than
the citizens of all other surveyed countries do except
Uruguay. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means a country
that is not democratic and 10 is a country that is
completely democratic, Venezuelans, on average, gave
their own democracy a score of 7.0. The Latin American
average was 5.8, with Uruguay having the highest score,
of 7.2, and Paraguay the lowest, at 3.9.
Similarly, Venezuelans say more often than the citizens
all other countries except Uruguayans that they are
satisfied with their democracy. 57% of Venezuelans are
happy with Venezuelan democracy, which is the second
highest percentage, with 66% of Uruguayans expressing
satisfaction. The average for all countries surveyed
was 38%, with citizens of Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay,
expressing the least satisfaction, of 23%, 22%, and 12%
For Venezuela, the percentage of citizens surveyed who
indicated satisfaction increased more since 1998, the
year Chavez was elected, than any other country. The
percentage expressing satisfaction increased from 32%
to 57% in those eight years.
In terms of political participation, Venezuelans
indicate that they are more politically active than the
citizens of any other surveyed country. Venezuelans
have the highest percentage of citizens that say they
discuss politics regularly (47%, average is 26%), who
say that they try to convince others on political
matters (32%, average is 16%), who participate in
demonstrations (26%, average is 12%), and who say they
are active in a political party (25%, average is 9%).
With regard to whether they believe that elections in
their country are 'clean,' Venezuelans answer in the
affirmative 56% of the time, which puts them in third
place, after Uruguay (83%) and Chile (69%). These were
the only three where over half said they believed
elections were clean. On average, only 41% of Latin
Americans expressed confidence in elections in their
country. Paraguayans (20%) and Ecuadorians (21%)
expressed the least confidence in their elections.
According to Latinobarometro, Venezuelans and
Uruguayans expressed the highest percentage of
confidence that elections were the most effective means
to promote change in their country (both 71%), compared
to 57% for all of Latin America.
Latinobarometro has been conducting an annual poll in
Latin American countries for the past 13 years. The
polls are financed by a variety of multilateral
agencies, such as the European Union, the Inter-
American Development Bank, and the World Bank. The 2006
poll was conducted in 18 countries in the month of
October 2006 and involved interviews with over 20,000
people. Its margin of error is about 3% (varies from
country to country).
The Latinobarometro report contradicted the common
perception that Latin America was heading towards more
authoritarian regimes with the recent political shift
towards the left. 'It is clear that there is no
authoritarian regression [in Latin America], which is
demonstrated by the fact that 14 presidents were
substituted, for various reasons and due to popular
pressure prior to the end of their mandate and within
the valid legal framework in each of the countries,'
said the report.
According to Latinobarometro, 'An important part of the
errors of perception about the evolution and
development of the region are produced by the false
expectations that international elites have about what
the region should be doing.'
Countries included in the survey were Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay,
Paramilitary Ties Implicate Colombia's Political Elite
By Juan Forero: Washington Post Foreign Service
BOGOTA, Colombia, Dec. 18 -- In what has been heralded as a decisive moment in Colombia's shadowy, decades-long conflict, a powerful paramilitary commander is to appear in a special court Tuesday to account for crimes that include massacres and assassinations. Salvatore Mancuso's testimony will be the first by a top death-squad leader in a Colombian courtroom, and it is being touted by the administration of President Álvaro Uribe as evidence that the wheels of justice are turning.
Rather than rejoicing, however, the Uribe government has found itself in the awkward position of being implicated in the wrongdoing. Over the past several weeks, Colombians have been gripped by revelations of ties between paramilitary fighters and several congressmen close to the president, as well as some officials in his administration. The scandal now threatens to unravel his authority.
Uribe won reelection in May after cultivating his reputation as a workaholic technocrat -- someone who would be relentless against corruption and illegal armed groups. But lately, he has joined a cast of lawmakers, intelligence service operatives and mid-level government bureaucrats in publicly denying ties to the paramilitary groups, which for a generation the military used as a proxy force to battle guerrillas.
"The government's smokescreen is becoming transparent," said Venus Albeiro Silva, a congressman from the left-leaning Alternative Democratic Pole party. "What's happening now is they cannot put the lid on this. That's why we're telling the president to come out and say the truth."
Repeated requests for an interview with Uribe went unanswered. But Vice President Francisco Santos said in an interview that the administration fully supports the investigations into ties with the paramilitary umbrella organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials, AUC.
"The government has said this has to go as deep as it needs to go," he said. But he added, "We're seeing the whole iceberg here."
So far, investigators from the Supreme Court and the attorney general's office have revealed case after case that not only expose friendly ties between officials and paramilitary fighters but also detail how lawmakers and others helped the fighters expand their hold over northern Colombia, liquidating opponents in the process.
Since three congressmen were jailed last month for collaborating with paramilitary groups, investigators have opened official probes into six more members of Congress and three former lawmakers. The most prominent is Sen. Álvaro Araújo, whose sister, Maria Consuelo Araújo, is the country's foreign minister. The senator has even admitted meeting with Rodrigo Tovar, a paramilitary commander who prosecutors say has been running a drug-trafficking group while negotiating with the government.
Another senator, Miguel de la Espriella, publicly detailed how he and dozens of other lawmakers met with paramilitary commanders in 2001. At the meeting, they signed a pact cementing an alliance designed to lead to disarmament negotiations, which death squad commanders hoped would help them avoid extradition to the United States on drug charges and hold on to land and other possessions. The talks began after Uribe won office in 2002.
"The interests of these men is personal, that they don't lose property and that they don't get extradited," said José Mejia, a former political officer in Tovar's paramilitary group who gave up his weapons this year. "What they're looking for is that they don't get tried for massacres and narco-trafficking."
The developments involving congressmen follow disclosures that a string of officials in the Uribe administration -- among them the former head of the intelligence service, the former head of the rural development agency and the former ambassador to Chile -- helped paramilitary groups by giving them classified information while orchestrating the takeover of land and the murder of the group's enemies.
The government has also come under withering criticism for moving too slowly to bring paramilitary fighters to justice, although the groups began disarming in 2003.
The government says 2,700 paramilitary commanders should be tried for atrocities, but the attorney general's office says administration officials have fully identified only 400. And although Mancuso agreed to talk to prosecutors, dozens of other top commanders have balked, threatening to paralyze the process.
Maria McFarland, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the system set up to investigate paramilitary fighters puts the burden on prosecutors, not defendants.
"So far, the government hasn't gotten the paramilitaries to fulfill their commitments," she said. "They're supposed to confess, turn over their illegal assets, cease with their criminal activities, and they haven't really done any of those things."
The setbacks have the Uribe administration scrambling to contain the political damage while ensuring that the new Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress does not take a hard line against Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. aid outside the Middle East. Most of that aid -- $700 million a year -- is spent to fight guerrillas and eradicate drug crops.
Colombian officials also worry that the government's inability to successfully prosecute paramilitary groups -- at least until now -- could hurt its chances for a free trade agreement with Washington, since the Democrats have called on Uribe to improve Colombia's human rights record.
"There's this perception of strong infiltration of the paramilitaries in Colombia's system, and if it's not straightened out and cleaned out, it's hard to see how he's going to move forward on any of his priorities," said Michael Shifter of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group.
Santos, the vice president, extolled the administration's achievements, noting, for example, that the number of homicides in rural areas has dropped sharply. He said the government is advancing in a process that will for the first time bring the commanders of an illegal insurgency to justice.
"Everyone who said this wouldn't work is wrong," he said.
Still, Santos cautioned patience: "To me, it's preferable that we go at it slow, and do it better than very quickly, and in the end we don't hear the victims."
Santos said that it was under Uribe's order that 59 paramilitary commanders were recently transferred to a prison. And he warned that they would be extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges if they do not cooperate.
But documents from the attorney general's office, as well as interviews with rights groups and opposition congressmen, show that as the government prepares to process paramilitary commanders, some of them are forming parallel drug-trafficking gangs.
Even Mancuso, despite his imminent court appearance, was recently implicated in an international cocaine-trafficking and money-laundering ring involving the Italian Mafia.
A defector from one group, in the southern state of Meta, said in an interview that earlier this year he was recruited by a new paramilitary group run by Carlos Jimenez. The defector, Arley Rincón Herrera, 26, said the new group's purpose was to protect shipments of cocaine, cash and chemicals used to make drugs.
"They didn't teach us anything political, since it was narco-trafficking that they were interested in," said Rincón, who is in hiding in Bogota. "We had to guard the merchandise. If a car came down with merchandise, we protected it."
Meta's paramilitary forces demobilized under government auspices. But far from being freed of fighters, the state is afflicted by new groups that are snatching farms and killing rivals.
A local cattleman who spoke on condition of anonymity said these fighters demand the sale of farms at bargain-basement prices and that people who resist are killed.
Ranchers used to be able to appease the paramilitary forces by giving them support.
But those days appear to be over, the cattleman said. "We all see now that the medicine was worse than the illness."
Low-Wage Workers From Mexico Dominate Latest Great Wave of Immigrants
By JULIA PRESTON
NY TIMES-Published: December 19, 2006
Since the early 1990s, the United States has seen the largest wave of immigration in its history. Of 300 million people now living here, about 37 million were born in another country. Not since the trans-Atlantic rush a century ago have immigrants made up such a large portion of the population.
The new immigrants come from places as far-flung as the Philippines, India, China and El Salvador. But the great wave is dominated by people like Raquel Rodríguez and her sisters: low-wage workers from Mexico. At least one-third of the foreign-born in the United States come from Mexico, census figures show.
When Mrs. Rodríguez moved to Texas 11 years ago as a legal resident, she was lucky to have the best of an American immigration system that is generally agreed to be broken. Proposals for broad changes in the system by President Bush and the Senate met opposition this year from Republicans who favored a crackdown on illegal immigrants. The push for change could resume in the coming months with the new Democratic majority in Congress.
The clearest sign of the system’s dysfunction is that legal permanent residents are no longer the majority of newcomers. Among recent arrivals, legal immigrants are outnumbered by illegal ones who sneaked across a border, or came legally and overstayed their visas. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 56 percent of illegal immigrants come from Mexico.
The calculation Mexican immigrants make is simple: there are jobs across the border at wages that are much higher than in Mexico. In the United States new Mexican immigrants mostly earn poverty wages by American standards, a median income of only $300 a week, the Pew Hispanic Center reported last year. But that is as much as four times what they would make for similar work at home.
The current United States immigration system, first created by Congress in 1965, is based on family ties, not labor market demand. An American citizen or legal resident can petition a federal agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, to bring a foreign spouse or children, and citizens can bring their siblings. Employers may also petition for workers, but most of these visas are for professionals with special education and skills. In 2005, only 8 percent of visas were for workers, according to a report in September by an independent bipartisan task force directed by Doris Meissner, a former head of the immigration service. Lawful immigrants receive a document known as a green card, even though the current version is pink.
Most visa categories have numerical caps, limiting their overall annual total to about 675,000 immigrants, and every country has a general limit of about 26,500 visas per year. As a result, the backlog of applications has become unmanageable. With the immigration agency overwhelmed, the process is generally tedious and frustrating. Today, for example, an American citizen seeking to bring a sibling from Mexico faces a wait of 13 years, the task force report found.
While Mexicans are coming in ever larger numbers, their legal avenues have not expanded. One result is that Mexican families often have mixed immigration status. There might, say, be a legal resident mother and an illegal father with children who are American citizens because they were born in the United States.
For Mexican immigrants the ties of family and religious faith are often more compelling than national allegiance. When immigrants first arrive, they rely on relatives already established in this country to give them shelter and steer them to jobs. Mexicans sent back $20 billion last year to aid families at home, the Inter-American Development Bank reported.
Mexicans more than live up to the truism that immigrants work hard. Often they carry more than one job at a time. Their driven work ethic is the unspoken factor in many debates about their impact on the labor market. It can lead them to accept jobs in unacceptable conditions. They run down their health and have little time to spend with their children.
Legal residents have clear advantages over illegal immigrants. While their job possibilities are not vastly different, they can hold driver’s licenses and bank accounts, build credit and receive government medical assistance. A growing proportion of legal immigrants are women.
Mexicans have not always shown a passion for learning English and becoming American citizens. But the accelerating crackdown on illegal immigration made many legal residents feel insecure, prompting hundreds of thousands of applications for citizenship.
Historical Perspectives on Latin American
By Noam Chomsky
This is a lightly edited and excerpted version of Noam Chomsky’s December 15, 2006 talk to a Boston meeting of Mass Global Action following a recent trip to Chile and Peru. It is posted at Japan Focus on December 20, 2006.
There was a meeting on the weekend of December 9-10 in Cochabamba in Bolivia of major South American leaders. It was a very important meeting. One index of its importance is that it was unreported, virtually unreported apart from the wire services. So every editor knew about it. Since I suspect you didn't read that wire service report, I’ll read a few things from it to indicate why it was so important.
The South American leaders agreed to create a high-level commission to study the idea of forming a continent-wide community similar to the European Union. This is the presidents and envoys of major nations, and there was the two-day summit of what's called the South American Community of Nations, hosted by Evo Morales in Cochabamba, the president of Bolivia. The leaders agreed to form a study group to look at the possibility of creating a continent-wide union and even a South American parliament. The result, according to the AP report, left fiery Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, long an agitator for the region, taking a greater role on the world stage, pleased, but impatient. It goes on to say that the discussion over South American unity will continue later this month, when MERCOSUR, the South American trading bloc, has its regular meeting that will include leaders from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay.
There is one -- has been one point of hostility in South America. That's Peru, Venezuela. But the article points out that Chavez and Peruvian President Alan Garcia took advantage of the summit to bury the hatchet, after having exchanged insults earlier in the year. And that is the only real conflict in South America at this time. So that seems to have been smoothed over.
The new Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa proposed a land and river trade route linking the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest to Ecuador's Pacific Coast, suggesting that for South America, it could be kind of like an alternative to the Panama Canal.
Chavez and Morales celebrated a new joint project, the gas separation plant in Bolivia's gas-rich region. It’s a joint venture with Petrovesa (PDVSA, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA. Pronounced “pedevesa”), the Venezuelan oil company, and the Bolivian state energy company. And it continues. Venezuela is the only Latin American member of OPEC and has by far the largest proven oil reserves outside the Middle East, by some measures maybe even comparable to Saudi Arabia.
There were also contributions, constructive, interesting contributions by Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and others. All of this is extremely important.
This is the first time since the Spanish conquests, 500 years, that there have been real moves toward integration in South America. The countries have been very separated from one another. And integration is going to be a prerequisite for authentic independence. There have been attempts at independence, but they've been crushed, often very violently, partly because of lack of regional support. Because there was very little regional cooperation, they could be picked off one by one.
That’s what has happened since the 1960s. The Kennedy administration orchestrated a coup in Brazil. It was the first of a series of falling dominoes. Neo-Nazi-style national security states spread across the hemisphere. Chile was one of them. Then there were Reagan's terrorist wars in the 1980s, which devastated Central America and the Caribbean. It was the worst plague of repression in the history of Latin America since the original conquests.
But integration lays the basis for potential independence, and that's of extreme significance. Latin America’s colonial history -- Spain, Europe, the United States -- not only divided countries from one another, it also left a sharp internal division within the countries, every one, between a very wealthy small elite and a huge mass of impoverished people. The correlation to race is fairly close. Typically, the rich elite was white, European, westernized; and the poor mass of the population was indigenous, Indian, black, intermingled, and so on. It's a fairly close correlation, and it continues right to the present.
The white, mostly white, elites -- who ran the countries -- were not integrated with, had very few relations with, the other countries of the region. They were Western-oriented. You can see that in all sorts of ways. That's where the capital was exported. That's where the second homes were, where the children went to university, where their cultural connections were. And they had very little responsibility in their own societies. So there’s a very sharp division.
You can see the pattern in imports. Imports are overwhelmingly luxury goods. Development, such as it was, was mostly foreign. Latin America was much more open to foreign investment than, say, East Asia. It’s part of the reason for their radically different paths of development in the last couple of decades.
And, of course, the elite elements were strongly sympathetic to the neoliberal programs of the last 25 years, which enriched them -- destroyed the countries, but enriched them. Latin America, more than any region in the world, outside of southern Africa, adhered rigorously to the so-called Washington Consensus, what's called outside the United States the neoliberal programs of roughly the past 25 or 30 years. And where they were rigorously applied, almost without exception, they led to disaster. Very striking correlation. Sharp reduction in rates of growth, other macroeconomic indices, all the social effects that go along with that.
Actually, the comparison to East Asia is very striking. Latin America is potentially a much richer area. I mean, a century ago, it was taken for granted that Brazil would be what was called the “Colossus of the South,” comparable to the Colossus of the North. Haiti, now one of the poorest countries in the world, was the richest colony in the world, a source of much of France’s wealth, now devastated, first by France, then by the United States. And Venezuela -- enormous wealth -- was taken over by the United States around 1920, right at the beginning of the oil age, It had been a British dependency, but Woodrow Wilson kicked the British out, recognizing that control of oil was going to be important, and supported a vicious dictator. From that point, more or less, it goes on until the present. So the resources and the potential were always there. Very rich.
In contrast, East Asia had almost no resources, but they followed a different developmental path. In Latin America, imports were luxury goods for the rich. In East Asia, they were capital goods for development. They had state-coordinated development programs. They disregarded the Washington Consensus almost totally. Capital controls, controls on export of capital, pretty egalitarian societies -- authoritarian, sometimes, pretty harsh -- but educational programs, health programs, and so on. In fact, they followed pretty much the developmental paths of the currently wealthy countries, which are radically different from the rules that are being imposed on the South.
And that goes way back in history. You go back to the 17th century, when the commercial and industrial centers of the world were China and India. Life expectancy in Japan was greater than in Europe. Europe was kind of a barbarian outpost, but it had advantages, mainly in savagery. It conquered the world, imposed something like the neoliberal rules on the conquered regions, and for itself, adopted very high protectionism, a lot of state intervention and so on. So Europe developed.
The United States, as a typical case, had the highest tariffs in the world, most protectionist country in the world during the period of its great development. In fact, as late as 1950, when the United States literally had half the world's wealth, its tariffs were higher than the Latin American countries today, which are being ordered to reduce them.
Massive state intervention in the economy. Economists don't talk about it much, but the current economy in the United States relies very heavily on the state sector. That's where you get your computers and the internet and your airplane traffic and transit of goods, container ships and so on, almost entirely comes out of the state sector, including pharmaceuticals, management techniques, and so on. I won’t go on into that, but it’s a strong correlation right through history. Those are the methods of development.
The neoliberal methods created the third world, and in the past 30 years, they have led to disasters in Latin America and southern Africa, the places that most rigorously adhered to them. But there was growth and development in East Asia, which disregarded them, following instead pretty much the model of the currently rich countries.
Well, there’s a chance that that will begin to change. There are finally efforts inside South America -- unfortunately not in Central America, which has just been pretty much devastated by the terror of the ’80s particularly. But in South America, from Venezuela to Argentina, it’s, I think, the most exciting place in the world. After 500 years, there’s a beginning of efforts to overcome these overwhelming problems. The integration that's taking place is one example.
There are efforts of the Indian population. The indigenous population is, for the first time in hundreds of years, in some countries really beginning to take a very active role in their own affairs. In Bolivia, they succeeded in taking over the country, controlling their resources. It’s also leading to significant democratization, real democracy, in which the population participates. So it takes a Bolivia -- it’s the poorest country in South America (Haiti is poorer in the hemisphere). It had a real democratic election last year, of a kind that you can't imagine in the United States, or in Europe, for that matter. There was mass popular participation, and people knew what the issues were. The issues were crystal clear and very important. And people didn't just participate on election day. These are the things they had been struggling about for years. Actually, Cochabamba is a symbol of it.
Noam Chomsky’s most recent book is Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War and Justice.