Latin America: the tide is turning

Issue: 137
Posted: 9 January 13

Mike Gonzalez

As 2012 nears its end a pattern is emerging in the political and economic picture of Latin America. It is surprising and contradictory, a dramatic example of the gulf that can open up between rhetoric and reality. After a decade of struggles characterised by their determination, their militancy but also their creativity, this is probably not where we expected to be. Those movements that successfully defied the priorities and strategies of neoliberalism, and inspired a resistance to globalisation that stretched beyond the southern hemisphere, carried into power governments and leaders who spoke their language, assumed their gestures and aspirations, and promised fervently to act on their behalf from the presidential palaces they had now come to occupy. These, after all, were the “new left governments” of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina, defined by their critique of globalisation and their refusal to dance to the tune of US imperialism in the way that the governments of Colombia, Peru and Mexico still did. They wore the multi-coloured and multicultural mantle of the movements and supported new constitutions that acknowledged and celebrated the diversity of the peoples of Latin America. The new parliaments were living embodiments of that diversity, in contrast to those of the previous decade, dominated largely by the white male representatives of the old ruling classes.

After a decade of impoverishment and despair, these new administrations echoed one another in their undertaking to reintroduce welfare measures that would hoist the majority out of their extreme poverty. Education and health would be made available to all, while social programmes across the board would shield the mass of the people from the worst depredations of the global market. The funding for these programmes would come from a determined renegotiation of the terms of trade. The multinationals that had profited from the region’s oil, gas and minerals in extraordinarily favourable tax regimes would now have to pay far higher taxes, and those higher returns would fund the new welfare provisions. The model here, of course, was Venezuela, where a range of social programmes had been funded by a renationalisation of the oil industry.

So what is this growing disjuncture between promise and reality? Rafael Correa, elected to the presidency of Ecuador in 2007 and recently adopted as the presidential candidate for forthcoming elections early next year, identified himself with the sustained indigenous and civic resistance of the previous two decades. It had successfully mobilised against three presidents who had failed to honour their anti-neoliberal assurances, the last of whom, Lucio Gutiérrez, had emerged as the candidate of the resistance, until he too reneged on all his undertakings. Correa’s refusal to renew the agreement with the US that allowed them to maintain the air base at Manta was well received. And he confronted the more recalcitrant sectors of the bourgeoisie, based largely in Guayaquil, and pushed through a new constitution against an obstinate right in parliament. The slightly obscure circumstances of the attempted coup against him in 2010, led by opposition forces in the police, allowed him to win even greater credibility with a well-publicised act of defiance. Yet in the face of key environmental demands from the indigenous movements, based on the concept of sawak karsay (the good life), and in defiance of the undertaking to nationalise Ecuador’s oil industry, Correa has turned against the communities fighting for control of water and land, and for regulation of oil and mining, criminalising their resistance and jailing their leaders, many of whom are currently in detention as we write (in November 2012).

The current map of the oil-bearing Amazonian provinces of the country reveals that the entire area has been divided into concessions to national and multinational companies despite massive collective resistance. Only one area remains unallocated. The Yasuni National Park is an area of extraordinary biodiversity sitting on top of an immense oil field. An international campaign moved Correa to offer foreign governments and enterprises the opportunity to finance alternative forms of production that would preserve the region from drilling. It was clever public relations, and until 2009 it seemed possible that Spain and Germany might be willing to contribute; but the sums offered never reached the required levels, and the financial crisis ensured the withdrawal of the original offers. The Hollywood billionaires, led by James Cameron, moved in—but even if the area is protected, the contamination that results from the surrounding concessions, plus the pollution in a previous period by Chevron-Texaco, has already irredeemably compromised the area. In any event, Correa has already received a $3 billion loan from a Chinese government heavily involved in mining operations in the country.

In Bolivia the TIPNIS events have exposed the profound contradictions unfolding there.1 The TIPNIS National Park and Indigenous Territory in the eastern province of Beni is a protected conservation area occupied by small farmers growing a variety of crops. The decision to run a 450 kilometre highway through the park met with the organised resistance of local farmers and communities—the very people who had fought for and sustained the government of Evo Morales in the face of the bitter and violent hostility of the Media Luna, the vested interests controlling the prosperous eastern regions of the country. In one sense this appeared to be a battle about conservation—an issue on which Morales had taken a particularly defiant stance in echoing the centrality of the protection of Pachamama (Mother Earth) in the programmes of his government. His speech at the Copenhagen Climate Conference (ignored and silenced by its organisers), and repeated at this year’s Cochabamba meeting, was a model defence of environmental conservation as an issue of social and economic justice. Later, however, Morales defended the necessity of the TIPNIS highway as an instrument of progress and development.

Yet its beneficiaries would not be the farming communities of the region; on the contrary, the development of the local economy would be the casualty of a project whose profits would be reaped by the massive, mainly Brazilian, soya producers and the multinational oil and mining companies for whom the road provided the means to carry their goods to Brazilian ports for export to the wider world. The result, of course, would be the elimination of agricultural production for local consumption in favour of the expansion of export agriculture. The protest march that left the region for a six-week march to the capital, La Paz, was met by police who attempted to repress the march with considerable violence. The minister of defence resigned in disgust at their actions. It was not the first time this had happened, but this time the marchers were rescued and subsequently joined by other local supporters and Morales backed down. For Alvaro García Linera, the vice-president and the ideological power behind Morales, this confrontation was a struggle against modernity, particularism set against the general good represented by Evo Morales himself.2 In what he describes as the fifth phase of the democratic revolution, Linera declares the defeat of neoliberalism and the dissolution of state into society.

For those who made the movement that carried Morales to power, the impression is very different. The demonstrations against the increase in the price of gas late in 2011 and the protests over the limitations placed on wage increases were evidence of a contradiction in the Bolivian process that was very different from the “creative contradictions” that Linera discusses. It represented rather what Jeff Webber describes as “revolutionary containment”, and defines a new period in which the mass movements in all the countries that declared themselves the representatives of a new “21st century socialism” now appear to be moving rapidly away from the revolutionary purposes of the early part of the decade.

The mass social movements of the early part of the decade were often unclear in their strategic objectives, but they shared common demands that identified the enemy. Neoliberalism, or the reorganisation of global capitalism, meant specifically for Latin America the removal of tariff barriers, which in some cases (Mexico, for example) had protected national capital. The World Trade Organisation’s regulations made it illegal for nation-states to protect their own production or indeed to subsidise local producers—these represented, in the parlance of neoliberalism, “obstacles to free trade”. Trade unions, and the collective agreements fought for and won by the better organised groups of workers, were clear examples of interference with the free movement of capital and its right to impose cheap labour regimes wherever it operated. Finance capital, too, could now move unimpeded—as was evident in the early 1990s in Mexico when the insurance and financial markets were simply appropriated by the big US players. Export agriculture, moved by the Monsantos and the other giants of world food production swept aside the small-scale agriculture which had sheltered for a while under the umbrella of state subsidy. One immediate result was the Zapatista rising in Chiapas, where a poor peasantry growing its own maize, the staple of the rural diet, now found itself exposed to the competition of the huge maize growing companies of the southern US that could produce their corn at a fraction of the cost of maize grown on small plots and swamp the Mexican market under the new neoliberal rules of the market.

Against the deregulation and privatisation of the region’s principal resources, the movements demanded nationalisation. Against the destruction of the public sector, such as it was, they fought for the public provision of services like health and education and appropriate subsidies to protect small producers against the land-grabbing giants. The public aversion to the impunity that allowed the torturers of the 1970s and 1980s to escape punishment demanded social justice. Faced with the arrant destruction of the physical landscape by giant oil and mining companies, the defence of Pachamama translated global environmentalist concerns into the language of indigenous tradition. And as the era was marked by resurgent indigenous resistance, the claim to cultural recognition and protection as of right occupied an increasingly central place. All of these rights would be enshrined in the new constitutions passed by delegate assemblies. The framing concept would be an anti-imperialism directed against Washington and the interests it had always protected. And the guarantee of the struggle to achieve these demands would be democratic control, the extension to society as a whole of the organisational methods that had developed within the movements in the course of their struggles.

If democratic control was a common objective of the resistance, however, there was no agreement about the meaning of nationalisation, no suggestion that the expropriation of capital or workers’ control of production would be its end point. In James Petras’s words, they sought a break with neoliberalism, but not with capitalism itself.3 Thus nationalisation in Bolivia proved to fall far short of the level of state control of the oil industry that Venezuela had achieved with the nationalisation of PDVSA. Rather it was a renegotiation of contracts and royalties to provide the state with higher tax revenues. The same occurred in Ecuador. And in Venezuela, the leading edge of Latin America’s “21st century socialism”, the oil corporation in fact shares a range of joint operations, particularly in the Orinoco Basin, with multinationals like Haliburton and Chevron, whose names were anathema to the social movements.

Yet the language of anti-imperialism remains the lingua franca of the new Latin American governments of the left. Hugo Chavez and the other leaders have been strident in their hostility to the US, to its war in the Middle East and to its resurgent interventions in Latin American affairs.4 The ubiquitous Chinese capital, the growing involvement of Russia and Iran, by contrast, seem not to have produced any major concerns, even though that investment has been concentrated in the extractive sectors—oil, gas, minerals—and the export agriculture whose dominance more or less defined the neoliberal relationship.

Far from diversifying their productive structures and reorganising their economies to fulfil the needs of the majority of the population, these ostensibly new governments are leading their countries back into an unequal exchange with global capital. The new economic projects are clearly based on oil and mineral extraction on the one hand and an export agriculture focusing on soya, maize for bio-ethanol, sugar and palm oil on the other. The multinationals that dominate these industries may be Canadian, Chinese, Russian, European or Indian as opposed to the US based enterprises which controlled the bulk of these activities in the past. The finance may now come from banks in China or Russia. But the relationship and its dynamic remain the accumulation of a surplus for the powerful centres of global capitalism—and the new regimes have become their collaborators.5 The logic of mass movements of the early part of the decade—the logic of mass democracy, people’s power, workers’ control, redistribution and care for the environment—are giving way once again, it seems, to a capitalist imperative. And if national states which surrendered control over their individual economies to the mechanisms of the global market have now been rebuilt under new management and with majority support, to what extent can they be said to have won greater control?

Each of these new regimes emerged from mass struggles and came to power claiming to represent them. Yet they are now increasingly in conflict with their social base, and more significantly the economic project which each is pursuing is clearly now emerging as a return to the relationship with the world market—on renegotiated terms—in which its resources are appropriated by global capital in exchange for goods and services manufactured elsewhere.

Actors on a mobile stage

The Caracazo, the uprising in the poor barrios of Caracas and other cities on 27 February 1989, marked the beginning of a new stage of struggle and resistance in Latin America. It was an explicit reaction to the announcement by the recently elected president Carlos Andrés Pérez that he was imposing the “structural adjustment” programme demanded by the IMF. The reaction was doubly powerful because he stood for election on a promise to resist those measures—although the bipartisan agreements (puntofijismo) that had dominated Venezuelan politics since the late 1950s left little doubt as to whose interests would prevail. But the Caracazo was more than a spontaneous outburst of public rage. Radical groups had long been organising in the poor barrios, and they included urban cells which had worked together with the rural guerrillas through the 1960s and 1970s, as well as liberation theologians and others. Against the background of international events in 1989, the eruption on to the historical stage of the urban poor was interpreted by many as a sign that a new historical actor was emerging. The “new social movements” certainly did mobilise sections of the population that were largely excluded from the traditional organisations of the left. They did not appear from nowhere, of course, but they became more visible and more central for reasons that were both subjective and objective. Objective, insofar as working class organisation was affected by the mass unemployment that the globalisation of the 1990s would bring; subjective in that the disorientation of much of the left with the collapse of the Soviet bloc left a vacuum of political leadership that was filled by ideas that generalised from the experience of the movements rather than engaging with them in any new strategic thinking.

The same was happening elsewhere. In Argentina in 1990 the recently elected Peronist President Carlos Menem oversaw a kind of car boot sale of the whole public sector, which netted him and other cronies millions in speculative profit while providing multinationals like Spain’s Telefónica with highly lucrative enterprises at bargain prices. The state sector of the economy was eliminated overnight.

In Venezuela itself, the various shock measures imposed in the aftermath of the Caracazo drove down the living standards of the majority of the population dramatically. By 1998, 65 percent of Venezuelans were living in extreme poverty—some 40 percent more than on the eve of the 1989 risings. The grassroots resistance did not end, however, with the repression of the Caracazo and the death of some 3,000 of its activists; regular and persistent mobilisations around economic and social demands continued. In February 1992, an attempted coup led by Parachute Regiment colonel Hugo Chávez lasted just 24 hours. Chávez was arrested but was allowed to appear on television to appeal to his supporters to abandon the action. The veiled promise that it was not over—only “por ahora” (for now)—became a watchword and, in the way of such things, it was taken up enthusiastically by graffiti artists across the country. As a result Chávez came to symbolise the continuing resistance—though the second coup attempt, in November that year, with Chávez still in prison, involved far more actual fighting.

Yet the legend of Chávez and the February coup conceals a more significant fact. His political mentors included Douglas Bravo, the unswerving leader of Venezuela’s guerrilla struggle who was also extremely influential in the urban and rural movements. It had been agreed with Chávez that the February coup would be a coordinated action of the military and the civic movements; the phrase that has come to be identified with Chávez’s political strategy—the “civic-military alliance”—comes directly from Bravo. The conditions were promising—an Assembly of the Barrios that year demonstrated that the resistance was widespread. Yet when February came Chávez did not issue a general call and instead restricted the movement to dissident officers. As the economic measures fell increasingly heavily on the poor, and the consensus of bourgeois parties continued to use the state to protect its narrow interests, it was particularly ironic that the package of neoliberal measures should be imposed by Teodoro Petkoff, once a guerrilla fighter.

In Mexico the EZLN—the Zapatista National Liberation Army—erupted on to the world’s front pages with its attack on San Cristóbal de las Casas, the state capital of Chiapas, and other small towns, on 1 January 1994. The action was timed to coincide with the press conference at which the presidents of Mexico, Canada and the US were to announce the launch of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Area). The contrast between the sharp suits and elegant surroundings of the presidential meeting and the barefoot indigenous fighters of Chiapas, their faces concealed by balaclavas, expressed with dramatic clarity the reality of neoliberalism. The powerful would benefit from globalisation, while the victims would be the poor of the earth, who would bear its high costs. And this was the message articulated by the charismatic Zapatista leader, the ex-Maoist Sub-Comandante Marcos, in his lengthy dispatches from the Lacandon forest. The Zapatista slogans were eagerly taken up in Europe and the US; it would take longer for them to find their echo among those in struggle in Latin America. Yet they did come to define a unifying discourse for the resistance. It was the Zapatistas, for example, who called for a meeting of the Latin American resistance at a great social forum first realised in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001.The forum expressed the growing movement against globalisation—or, in its Spanish term, for an alternative globalisation. But it also reflected the experience of the civic resistance in several other important and complex ways

It was a key feature of globalisation that world trade was largely conducted between the major powers. Latin America’s role was as a supplier of raw materials—oil, minerals—and the products of export agriculture like maize, soya, palm oil, flowers and fruit. Increasingly these industries were dominated by transnational corporations whose enormous profits were accumulated in the north, fuelling economic activity there. Starbucks coffee came largely from Latin America, yet it was consumed in the cities of Europe and North America. The gas and oil of Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico and Ecuador fuelled cars across the world, and were largely owned by multinational corporations based mainly (but not exclusively) in the US. Under the rules of the World Trade Organisation, for example, it was an offence—a restraint of trade—to refuse to export your resources. When Bolivia refused to sell its gas to California, the state of California sued it. It would do the same again when British Columbia refused to sell its water to it. Public sector companies were privatised in a kind of frenzy. Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA was supposedly nationalised in the mid-1990s; in fact it was a sleight of hand that allowed the company to operate wholly independently of the Venezuelan state in collusion with the oil multinationals.

In real terms, across Latin America the state withdrew from all forms of welfare provision, subsidy or control over key sectors of the economy. Instead it became an agent of multinational capital with the additional task of social repression and control. The impacts across the continent were catastrophic for the majority—while those acting on behalf of international capital enjoyed unprecedented boom years oiled by corruption and rampant speculation; the bonanza under Menem in 1990 was just one example.

The transformation of agriculture, an often violent process of expulsion and persecution, drove millions towards the exploding slums around the major cities like Sao Paulo, Rio, Mexico City and Caracas. It was a process that had begun much earlier, in a previous phase of agricultural change, but it was accelerated and intensified in the framework of neoliberal globalisation. The mass education programmes characteristic of the 1960s and 1970s in most of the continent were marketised and privatised. The closure of industries under the impact of free cross-border trade deepened unemployment as millions moved into the precarious realm of street trading and hawking and its associated drug trafficking. The maquiladoras or assembly plants along the Mexican US border exemplified the appalling conditions under which Latin American workers survived without the protection of the trade unions that had grown up through previous decades.

In these circumstances, the NGOs came to occupy a key role—at once practical and ideological. The withdrawal of the state from every area of social provision meant a life lived on the edge of catastrophe for millions. Its place was taken by non-governmental organisations largely financed by international agencies and major charities. The political and organisational crisis of the trade unions was a consequence of objective transformations; the working class as a collective presence faded from view, and the new urban populations, fighting for their very survival, had no collective memory to turn to. This was also true of the indigenous organisations that re-emerged with renewed impetus in the decade of the 1990s. The discrimination and persecution to which they were subject were nothing new, but reached new levels in this decade as global capital intensified its search for the oil, gas, water and minerals which often lay in the ancestral territories of indigenous communities. At the same time, the white urban elites who ran the state on behalf of their multinational masters were imbued with a racism that, in the Andean republics and in Central America, was explicit and virulent. The left, for its part, had rarely succeeded in building links between workers’ struggles and the struggles of indigenous peoples or the burgeoning marginalised populations of the cities. The resurgent indigenous struggles found their reference points in ancient pre-Hispanic identities, or in cultural difference and separation, and held to them even when they were forced to migrate to vast barrios like El Alto, the wholly indigenous city high above Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.

It seemed that a new political subject was now driving the resistance across the continent. The “new social movements” coalesced around single issue campaigns and struggles, which regularly brought them into confrontation with the state. They were struggles for the basic provision of services, for housing, for education and health. And although these movements had emerged in the course of the previous decade, their radicalisation and growing presence reflected a combination of factors—not simply immiseration but also the development of new ideas and understandings of what resistance meant and how it should be conducted. The weakening of the state, for example, removed the possibility of sustaining clientilistic relationships with elements within the state. The weakness of the left meant that the debates around agency were not informed by a Marxist understanding of the centrality of the working class. And the generalised presence of NGOs allowed new theories of resistance to emerge which emphasised specificity and fragmented the social struggles, creating international networks that addressed each area of repression, need and resistance separately. Hence the resurgence of ecological movements, the interventions around human rights and social justice, the movements of women and the rise of cooperatives particularly in the countryside.

This had a double and contradictory effect. On the one hand, it acknowledged the origins of many of these problems in a global reality—neoliberalism as a universal category became part of everyday political discourse. On the other hand, the specific conditions and histories in which this global reality was experienced were understood in entirely local or sectional terms. The dialectical relationship between the local and the global, and the factors—historical, social, cultural—which inhibited or enabled particular struggles to develop and link with others were forgotten. The theorists6 described the emergence of a new political subject with multiple and shifting identities—the plurality here was critical, since in the context of international political debates at the time the unifying category of class was abandoned. In the same way, the political struggle was redefined as cultural—a recognition of difference, the formation of identity, new social movements operating within civil society rather than in relation to the state. The authority of the Zapatista movement gave the pronouncements and declarations of Sub-Comandante Marcos an enormous weight across the movements. His concepts of “to lead by obeying” and “changing society without taking power” were both an affirmation and an expression of the historic marginalisation of the Zapatista communities in particular and the indigenous communities in general. And they were expressions of courage and the depth of their political militancy that refused both incorporation and confrontation. Yet it was also significant how quickly the movement, characterised at the outset as anti-neoliberal, was redefined as a movement of indigenous liberation. The activities of the electoral left in Mexico, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas’s Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in particular, served to emphasise and reinforce the suspicion of the Zapatistas towards the conventional parties of the left. The PRD’s opportunism and its attempt to exploit the sympathy for the Zapatistas to its electoral advantage deepened the hostility between them. The result was an increasing exceptionalism that isolated the Zapatistas from their natural class allies. Nonetheless the anticapitalist impulse behind the Zapatistas resonated with the many fronts of resistance that were opening up in Latin America and elsewhere as the true brutality of the neoliberal project was unmasked and misery and despair deepened.

And then came Cochabamba.7 The water wars in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba began as the 21st century began. The symbolic significance of the struggle of the trade unions, student groups, local unions and community organizations of this Bolivian city was immensely powerful. It represented not simply the first successful struggle against one of the emblematic multinational corporations of the age of globalisation—Bechtel—but also reflected some of the general features of the new social movements. The forms of organisation were horizontal and democratic, their defining locus territorial rather than social; and the organised left was by and large marginal to their activities. To the extent that there was a unifying political idea it was autonomism—a term notoriously difficult to pin down, but whose key feature was its separation (on anything but a symbolic level) from other struggles. The specificity of each struggle was a strength or a weakness, depending on the position from which you addressed it. For Raul Zibechi, for example, a highly respected and insightful analyst of this period, it was a virtue:

The left and academics assure us that there is not the slightest chance of victory without structure, or that the movement’s triumphs will be ephemeral and that any disarticulated and fragmented movement marches back towards its own certain defeat… [But] was it not the unification and centralisation of past movements that allowed the state and capital to neutralise them?8

From a Marxist point of view, however, the fragmentation of the movement was a weakness, not in Zibechi’s terms because all class movements are by definition bent on centralisation to mimic the state, but rather because a struggle that lacks a common strategy cannot fight a capitalist class which acts always in the final analysis in its own collective defence. What Zibechi is arguing here, of course, is that the main danger confronting movements from below of this kind is their incorporation by the state, their bureaucratisation, or the loss of their internal democracy and collective involvement. The Latin American experience certainly gives that fear substance, as working class organisations have split and divided under pressure from reformist or populist organisations that did not posit the destruction of the bourgeois state as the starting point for revolution. But that, of course, is a function of politics, of the ideas and strategies that prevail in any given movement and their democratic content. Autonomism’s suspicion of the revolutionary left generalises from Stalinism, whose victims included precisely the revolutionary left and which caused the disappearance of the concept of socialism from below and the self-emancipation of the working class from the discourse of the left.

The irony, of course, is that the Latin American mass movements between 2000 and 2005 demonstrated with dramatic clarity the potential for self-emancipation and the creativity of those in struggle. What was important about this period was not just the level of resistance but the forms of grassroots organisation, their internal democracy and their prefigurative possibilities. Here people were speaking not only of obdurate resistance, but of alternative ways of living, of a transformed relationship between human beings and the environment, of the transformation of the human heart. Yet the issue of power, state power and the structures of control and domination through which capitalist relations of production are reproduced was not discussed—for the very reasons that Zibechi suggests. The argument was that to discuss the coordination of struggles against a common enemy was to fall into a “centralising” trap.

At the same time, the Latin American left rarely responded to the paradox of autonomism, and much of the international left, informed by a prevailing postmodernism, celebrated the movement’s fragmentation and its refusal to address the question of state power as evidence of its
originality and strength.

While the mass movement was facing state repression in Cochabamba’s central square, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri were preparing for publication their weighty and influential tome Empire, which appeared in the same iconic year 2000. The influence of their ideas was not perhaps direct in Latin America, but indirectly it echoed around the movements. As a consequence there was no critical engagement with these new formations—an engagement that would have combined solidarity in its broadest sense with debates within the revolutionary tradition about the relationship between the working class movement and other movements, and that would have drawn on analyses of reformism and the post-Stalinist crisis within the left. It was as if, as Negri himself said, these movements were starting from scratch. More directly influential perhaps was John Holloway, who generalised from the Zapatista experience in his Change the World Without Taking Power. If Hardt and Negri were correct in their assertion that in the period of Empire the nation-state had ceased to function—that instead capital swarmed and moved like bees9 and the actions of the multitude shifted and changed correspondingly—then it was by definition impossible to develop any strategic thinking within it. Presumably the actions of the multitude would fragment the global order, challenging the imposed uniformities of thought that held the world’s exploited in thrall. As Zibechi puts it,

Non-citizens—those stripped of their citizenship in neoliberal society—are opening up their own spaces in a process of struggle in which they develop as subjects—spaces that they create, design and control. Understanding this requires reversing one’s perspective, rejecting the negative and state-centred viewpoint—that defines people by what they lack—and adopting another way of looking that starts with the differences they have created in order then to visualise other paths.10

The problem, of course, was that neither the state nor the capitalist class whose interests it organised within a given territory had disappeared nor had it given up the fight. The troops of the Mexican army surrounding the autonomous communities of Chiapas and the soldiers firing on the Cochabamba demonstrators were evidence enough of that. What was clear was that in the early 21st century the exploited and the oppressed were fighting back with an intensity and a resolution born of decades of misrule and informed by a new hope that Chiapas and Cochabamba had given them.

Models of a new world

In the year 2000 many things changed. In Ecuador the national mobilisation of indigenous peoples and trade unions brought down a government for the first time (but not the last). In Cochabamba a servant of the global market was forced reluctantly to renationalise the water company. In Chile the year began with the election of Socialist Ricardo Lagos to the presidency, but he would mount no opposition to the demands of global capital.

Outside the arena of formal politics other forces were forging a different power. In the five years that followed Cochabamba, not only would struggles over water, gas and oil impel the movement from below; they would also produce forms of democratic organisation, like the Bolivian cabildo abierto or open town council which ensured mass participation and grassroots control, the popular assemblies in Argentina and the mingas of Ecuador. The experience was reflected at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in its extraordinary diversity and in its understanding that the enemy was neoliberalism. But it was curious that the forum specifically excluded politics. Western social democracy, however, was heavily represented, which suggested that the prohibition was directed at the radical left. What it meant was that the question of power, of how to conquer and transform the state, was specifically forbidden as a subject of debate. The creativity of the movements was, quite rightly, celebrated—but the implication that new worlds would emerge on the terrain of politics through the sheer weight of their moral capital suggested an uncritical absorption of the Zapatista arguments and the exceptionalism of the indigenous mobilisations. And in the particular context of those first years of the 21st century, when governments were falling, states seemed to be losing control, and (after 2001) the imperialist overseer was increasingly preoccupied elsewhere.

The Argentinazo of December 2001, like the other movements, did not come out of the blue. The militant movements of the unemployed, the piqueteros, had marked their presence on the political landscape with blockades of national highways, occupations and protests. When the uprising of December (and it does seem right to call it that) occurred it borrowed from their experience, while it produced at the same time new and creative expressions of popular resistance. The weekend of 18-19 December 2001 was the mass response to the decision of the IMF to punish Argentina for its failure to properly service its debt.

Despite the proliferation of left groups, and in particular of Trotskyist organisations in Argentina, the new resistance was diverse and had no single acknowledged leadership—but its many faces reflected the character of the mobilisations already under way. The crisis produced factory closures across the country that provoked a series of occupations; the piqueteros added their weight. One immediate effect of the crisis was the immediate closure of banks so that there was no cash available,11 and the capital flight of the time was stopped in its tracks. The local popular assemblies arose as responses to an immediate need. Local currencies (of which there were several, though the most widespread were the patacones) were essentially vouchers for barter—in the desperate conditions of those days an economy of exchange replaced the money economy, and the distribution of local resources was determined in democratic assemblies. It was true that these extraordinary developments were emergency measures—but as the crisis wore on the politics of grassroots organisation began to embed itself in the movement. The state, meanwhile, was locked in a series of internal crises, as the ruling classes seemed unable to reach agreement on how to address the crisis. One president followed another, in short-lived and impotent administrations.

Yet there was no agreement on the left as to the implications of the movement. The fragmentation of the Argentine left, and the agility of the popular movement, made it unable to provide unified leadership. Different fractions claimed different struggles, and fought between themselves to assert their right of representation. It was in political terms a squandered moment, and one that reinforced the suspicion of many elements of the movement towards revolutionary politics. There is no doubt that the anti-politics of Holloway and others flourished in that environment and made a virtue both of spontaneity and of the lack of debate around the strategic objectives of the movement. The argument offered, and repeated endlessly in the autonomist perspectives, was that the left was entirely oriented on the state. The new movements, by contrast, were seeking autonomous spaces in which to build—and the subject of this new politics was the movement itself. As Diane Raby put it brutally, “The insistence on direct, unmediated popular protagonists is admirable but becomes a futile distraction if it is elevated to the status of dogma”,12 because “there is no alternative to the search for an alternative”.13 And that alternative must inescapably involve the question of state power—not because the revolutionary project is about an alternative leadership bent on taking over the state, but because the construction of a new form of society, a new popular democracy, depends upon it being in a position to confront its enemies, whose principal instrument of class rule is the state. Chile 1973 was not so far in the distance that its lessons should be forgotten!

A meeting at the crossroads

Between 2002 and 2005 the movements advanced apparently inexorably, establishing their political presence throughout Latin America. The political reforms enshrined in Venezuela’s new 1999 Constitution included the right to revoke public servants and the recognition of indigenous rights, and flagged the intention to nationalise oil. But it was neither the Constitution nor the election of Chávez in itself that changed the political landscape. Throughout 2001 the right wing in the state machine mobilised and manoeuvred against his government. The prize, from their point of view, was the oil industry—the golden goose that had guaranteed the wealth of the minority of the population who worked in the oil corporation or associated departments of state, and the commercial enterprises that serviced this wealthy untaxed layer with their luxury goods. They had not suffered any perceptible decline in their living standards through the late 1990s, while the majority were suffering the assaults of structural adjustment. Now they prepared to use their economic power, and their continuing control of the state, to undermine Chávez by any means possible. The right wing strikes of 2001 were a practice run for the events of the following year.

Then in April 2002 elements of the army and the bureaucracy together with the corrupt leadership of the Venezuelan Trade Union Federation and the Employers Federation mounted a coup and announced the arrest of Chávez. The short-lived attempt to reclaim the power the bourgeoisie had controlled for forty years lasted 48 hours. The RTE documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised memorably captured the reasons why,14 as the poor cascaded down from the barrios on the hills and gathered in their tens of thousands around the presidential palace, demanding the return of the president. This was the first act of the Bolivarian Revolution, when the mass movement acted directly to defeat the coup. The mobilisation was organised from below—Chávez himself did not have at his disposal a political organisation capable of mobilising people in this way, and his reliance on the army was severely weakened when his fellow officers divided equally in their allegiances. At this moment the masses became the subject of history, just as they had in Ecuador from 1999 onwards, in Bolivia from 2000 and repeatedly in the years that followed, and briefly in Argentina in 2001-2.The final act of this drama was played out from early December 2002 and for the three months that followed. On 3 December the right wing in the oil corporation dealt their final hand, calling out 18,000 employees on an indefinite strike. They paralysed the computers that controlled the complex business of the production and distribution of oil, they threatened and attacked workers attempting to go into work and they even cut the cables under the floor of the corporation’s offices. They were clearly willing to destroy the source of most of Venezuela’s export earnings (and incidentally of their own inflated incomes) in order to bring Chávez down. This too failed, as the mass of workers and community organisations mobilised across the country to defend the installations and keep the industry moving. It came very close to the edge, but the strike failed because the mass movement seized the historical initiative.

The subsequent creation of the misiones, the social programmes funded by Venezuela’s oil income, seemed to open the possibility of a transfer of power to the grassroots. The state remained dominated by the old order, which blocked and delayed every Chávez initiative. The response was to set these welfare and social projects in motion directly through the parallel organisations that at this early stage were largely controlled and run from below. The implementation of the health programme involved 20,000 Cuban doctors, their presence paid for with oil. The subsidised state supermarkets, Mercal, raised the general level of nutrition, a key indicator in the poverty statistics. In 2004-5 poverty levels fell significantly for the first time, and health data showed consistent improvement—unsurprisingly since most of Venezuela’s poor simply had previously had no access to healthcare. The virtual disappearance of a Venezuelan medical profession used to very high incomes in the private sector spoke volumes.

At this stage the misiones came close to becoming a kind of parallel state. As Gregory Wilpert makes clear,15 the consequence would be either the transformation of the Venezuelan state itself or the incorporation of its activists into the existing state. It was the latter process that prevailed, as the system of patronage, corruption and the trading of favours that had characterised puntofijismo persisted and began to corrupt the Chavista state itself. The critical thing at this point was the significance of the Bolivarian Constitution.

As Wilpert puts it, “What makes the difference between a constitution that is actually implemented and one that is merely a formality is the country’s political culture”.16 This could equally be applied to the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. A constitution without legal instruments to enforce its provisions is little more than a declaration of faith. Yet at this critical moment the movements still seemed to be leading the process of change as their demands were taken up in the electoral processes in which, between 2005 and 2006, new leaders presented their presidential candidacies under the new constitutional arrangements. The high point in the period of mass mobilisation—what Linera himself (without conscious irony) describes as a revolutionary moment—was a curious encounter at the Porto Alegre World Social Forum in January 2005. The forum had been backed by Lula, Brazil’s president elected at the end of 2002 in a euphoric moment that very rapidly turned into confusion and dismay. He was the candidate of the Workers Party (PT), formed in 1980 in the wake of a major strike wave in heavy industry in which Lula was a leading union official. The 2002 election campaign made great play of Lula’s humble origins, presenting him as a candidate above party. It was a conscious appeal to the mass movement led in Brazil by the Landless Workers Movement (MST), identifying Lula with the new social movements and understating his membership of the Workers Party itself and his past in the trade unions.

In reality, Lula was an extremely popular career politician and the Workers Party a major political force in Brazil which already controlled many state and municipal governments. The MST’s hesitations about Lula stemmed from the tensions that had often arisen between the MST, which mobilised the poorest and most marginalised sections in direct actions like occupations, and the PT at various levels of government. Nevertheless, when Lula arrived at the Porto Alegre conference in January 2003 he was received with joy by the local population which turned out in numbers to cheer him. In a matter of days, however, Lula’s agenda became clear, as he flew directly from Porto Alegre to Davos where he met (and was photographed) with George Soros and other luminaries of global capitalism at the World Economic Forum. His reception in Porto Alegre two years later was very different. He was heckled persistently when he came to speak at the city’s basketball stadium, which had largely been filled with government employees to avoid just such a hostile response. Within a short time of assuming the presidency Lula had attacked public sector workers’ actions over pensions, MST activists had been arrested and dissidents within the PT had been expelled. The promise of a basic welfare food programme, Fome Zero, was fulfilled, but it was the commitment to winning for Brazil a place at the top table of world capitalism that drove Lula’s government. Brazilian capital very rapidly came to occupy a dominant role in Latin America, and Lula’s decision to send Brazilian troops to Haiti to support the US occupation was widely seen as a declaration of Lula’s real allegiances. Brazilian capital asserted itself aggressively in Paraguay and Bolivia, using its economic power to pressure and control the smaller economies of Latin America.

At the end of the same week Hugo Chávez came to Porto Alegre, where he spoke in the same stadium to rapturous applause. It was there that he announced Venezuela’s commitment to 21st century socialism. It was a pivotal moment. But the enthusiastic adoption by the emerging leaders of the Latin American “new left” did not clarify what Chávez understood by socialism, and what his message was to his own supporters in Venezuela and outside. It seemed clearest at the level of foreign policy, where Chávez’s witty and adamant anti-imperialism was echoed by other leaders. Hostility to the United States and the pursuit of national independence were the central message, combined with the promise to build a strong local state able to recover control over national resources and negotiate from strength with external forces. Chávez’s lyrical passages about the creation of a political culture of solidarity and community were received with equal enthusiasm. But the form that it would take, and how solidarity with a radical state would differ from a horizontal form of collective organisation was not addressed. And the economic strategies of the new vision of the state remained equally unclear in reality, if not at the level of discourse.

So 21st century socialism grew out of a fierce critique of neoliberalism, yet it was not anti-capitalist in the sense of proposing a new socio-economic formation not based on the market. It proposed instead a fairer market in which a bloc of Latin American nations could negotiate their conditions of existence within it from a stronger position. Even its most radical wing, the Chávez government in Venezuela, did not advocate expropriation of big capital, nor any assault on the private ownership of the means of production in general. In the wake of the coup and the bosses’ strike of 2002, for example, “patriotic” capitalists like Cisneros and Ruperti emerged stronger than ever—and their interests have remained untouched ever since. While government lands were redistributed to small farmers through the misiones, few large private landholdings were taken over—other than by peasant organisations seizing the land directly, and usually suffering repression as a result. The industries that were taken over—the aluminium plant Alcasa, for example, or some milk processing factories—were usually nationalised under threat of closure and compensation was paid at market prices.

In what sense, then, were these governments socialist—in a 21st century sense? If the rejection of 20th century socialism (for which read Stalinism) was of its undemocratic, centralised and bureaucratic character, then to what extent could 21st century socialism claim to be offering an alternative form of social organisation? The much vaunted cooperatives established in Venezuela and Bolivia, for example, were fundamentally small businesses. Working class demands were met with hostility by the state with the familiar accusation that organised workers were putting their own interests above those of “society as a whole”. Chávez’s attacks on trade unionists, for example during the metro strike of 2010, surprised his own supporters and the organised refusal to negotiate with the newly formed rank and file trade union federation (the UNT) reinforced their suspicion.17

It increasingly appeared that 21st century socialism was far from being the logical development of the experience of grassroots democracy, workers’ control of industry or the socialisation of the economy. Supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution abroad were understandably excited by Chávez’s announcement in 2005. Against the background of worldwide hostility to imperialist war, and a global condemnation of neoliberalism, and the experience of a Latin American resistance that had produced a new, combative historical subject, 21st century socialism promised to open enormous new possibilities.

In retrospect, however, it seems clear now that the direction that was signposted by 21st century socialism was very different, despite the frequent allusions to Trotsky, Gramsci and Rosa Luxemburg, from Marx’s conception of socialism as the “self-emancipation of the working class”: “The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-change can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice”.18

The election of Evo Morales as the candidate of the MAS to the Bolivian presidency in 2005 clearly marked a new stage. For those in the movement the rise of their most prominent mass leader felt like a victory—and it was. He was the representative of the great mass risings of 2003 and again in 2005, not simply electorally, but in terms of his background and his role as leader of the Coca Farmers organisation. The subsequent elections to a Constituent Assembly, however, sowed confusion and doubt. Delegates, it was announced, would represent political parties only—the movements themselves would not be directly represented except insofar as their spokespeople were members of a registered organisation, in reality of the Movimiento al Socialismo, the MAS. And insofar as the MAS did not have a majority in the Senate, the Law of Convocation of the Assembly could be passed only with the cooperation of the right. This was very different from the gathering envisaged by Oscar Olivera, speaking on behalf of the Coordinator of Mass Organisations:

The Constituent Assembly should be understood as a great sovereign meeting of citizen representatives elected by their neighbourhood organisations, their urban and rural associations, their unions, their communes. These citizen representatives would bring with them ideas and projects concerning how to organise the political life of the country… Let us be clear: Neither the executive branch nor the legislative branch, nor even the political parties, can convoke the Constituent Assembly.19

In Venezuela this vision of the “Constituyente” was advanced in the wake of the events of 2002-3 by Roland Denis, another leading figure in the autonomist wing of the movement,20 echoing in turn the Zapatista concept of “la otra política”—the other politics that was grassroots and non-electoral. A year later, after his re-election with an increased majority, Chávez announced (and note that it was announced on television in his customary unpredictable way) the creation of a new national organisation, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Its birth, fully grown, with small organisational and political committees already formed, caused a deep political crisis among the parties of the left—and produced, or at least brought to the surface, profound internal divisions. The juggling of terminologies confused matters further. This, according to the Comandante, was “poder popular”, people’s power. Yet its central political expression was nominated, not elected, and its political manifesto written by a committee of four. Nevertheless, and as testimony to the enormous popularity and authority of Chávez, the call to join convinced nearly 6 million Venezuelans.

The promise that there would be internal debate, and the reality that the country’s working population were now members, convinced most of the left to join. The internal debate, however, proved very limited and restricted to the lower echelons. The practice of nomination to the upper levels of the party persisted. But what kind of party was it, and what vision of 21st century socialism did it express? In the first instance, it was a conduit from the presidency to a mass movement with very little room for independent action. It served for the implementation of policies and positions most of which appeared to come from Chávez’s private thoughts direct to the world beyond, and to be framed in a Bolivarian ideology whose socialist elements were at best very vague.

It was certainly nationalist and anti-imperialist, but what was its transformative content? There was no reference to redistribution beyond the allocation of oil revenues to social programmes, directed from the state by an emerging powerful political class that people began calling the “Bolibourgeoisie”. They were accumulating huge personal wealth and influence, and deploying that influence in much the same way as the previous occupants of the state. There was no doubt that the best elements of the mass movement, the most consistent and committed workers, and the most sincere advocates of people’s power were in their vast majority within the PSUV. But their actions were contained and limited by a highly centralised and increasingly bureaucratic organisation whose principal role seemed to be electoral, as elections followed referenda followed elections. There was little space here for public debate and still less for critical responses to a shifting reality. There was little about it that was democratic.

In Ecuador, Correa’s confrontation with the old oligarchy in Guayaquil and the landowning classes gave brief hope that his commitment to 21st century socialism was more than skin deep. But the beneficiary proved to be another section of the bourgeoisie, based in Quito, rather than the mass movement. While Correa is welcomed into the ample salons of 21st century socialism, he has reimposed, or reaffirmed the place of Ecuador in the global economy.

As Jeffrey Webber shows in great detail, Bolivia’s 21st century socialist government is equally enthusiastic in confirming Bolivia’s place as an extractive economy in which decisions and directions are determined by the most powerful players in world capitalism. Their nationality is secondary—the language of exploitation may have changed from English to Portuguese or Chinese or Russian—but the relationship is the same. The armed
confrontations and accumulating lists of dead activists in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, for example, are the evidence of a renewed appropriation of land, this time in areas neglected up till now because they were inaccessible or home to large indigenous communities. The ruthlessness of these invasions is all the more dramatic when they are supported by the military and the police. Whatever we call the coming period, be it
“post-neoliberalism” (Dávalos) or “neoliberalism reconstituted” (Webber), it bears no resemblance to a socialism whose watchword is self-emancipation. Pablo Dávalos’s withering critique of the Correa era leaves very little doubt:

Post-neoliberalism offers two basic dynamics—accumulation by dispossession and the institutional transformation of State and market—within a single political process. It is worth pointing out that these dynamics have a different vision of the state which is why it can be seen as a form of opposition to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. But this is just an optical illusion: the centrality of the state is fundamental for guaranteeing the juridical security of corporations and investors involved in extractive industries. That is why accumulation by dispossession involves violence and pillage.21

García Linera, in Bolivia, was equally clear that Bolivia is entering a phase of the creation of an Andean capitalism. The adjective may feel reassuring, but the key is the noun—capitalism—whose compelling and remorseless laws of accumulation have already claimed victims from TIPNIS and shown their true colours to the indigenous protesters marching against higher gas prices and frozen wages.

The gulf between rhetoric and reality grows ever wider. The Orinoco Basin’s immense reserves of oil are represented as the guarantee of Venezuela’s “socialist” future. Yet they are all being developed by joint enterprises with multinational companies, which do not enter agreements for the general good. China, Russia and Iran’s involvement is hardly
disinterested—they lend at high interest in China’s case, they profit from arms sales in Russia’s, and they find a market for their cars and lorries in Iran’s (or at least they will do when the troubled and inefficient manufacturing plant finally moves into production).

The 21st century socialist model appears to have certain characteristics in common: A newly strengthened state, a charismatic and authoritative leader, and a political apparatus whose role is the transmission of decisions and the implementation of government decisions. If there is a model for this characteristic political apparatus, it would seem to be the Cuban Communist Party—despite its high level of centralisation and complete lack of internal democracy.22 Yet private capital is protected in these new regimes and responds when it is called upon to exhibit its patriotism by investing, for profit, in local enterprises with state support. Though the Latin American right is active, vocal and shrill in its denunciations of the new governments in the region, there has been no assault on its class interests, no expropriations, no increased tax obligations upon it. And the silence or confusion of the mass movements that fought neoliberalism with such courage cannot be seen as consent.

The new arrangements for the global trade in raw materials, gas and oil have implied higher royalties, and the world price of these commodities has provided a surplus that has enabled each of these new states to fund welfare and social programmes which have lifted the living standards of the majority above the poverty line. But it has not been achieved through redistribution of wealth or through the creation of social redistributive economies. The Venezuelan Missions, like the Fome Zero programme in Brazil and their equivalents elsewhere in Latin America, create a new dependence on the state and undermine the sense that advances are achieved by independent mass action. And in the medium term the leaders of these movements are incorporated into the state—abandoning their leadership roles and their accountability to the movements to become, in reality, intermediaries acting on behalf of the state. The effect has been to demobilise and disarm the mass movements that placed such hope in the new era.

The practice of the social movements inspired a vision of a different world—responsible to the whole of society, respectful of the environment, democratic in its actions and its purposes, that would consign exploitation and oppression to the annals of history. The once invisible face of indigenous America is now to be seen in many of the region’s parliaments. But that is not people’s power. The warning shots have already been fired. The removal of Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, by a coalition of national and international agricultural interests, was one. The barely discussed midnight kidnapping of President Zelaya in Honduras with the open approval of Washington was another.

The recent agreements between Hugo Chávez and President Santos of Colombia are a case in point. Santos, after all, was the minister of defence under Uribe, whose support of the paramilitaries financed by the drug barons was never in doubt. And Santos has not changed his spots; he has made it clear that during the current negotiations with the guerrillas of the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), brokered by Venezuela, military operations in Colombia will continue. Their purpose now, though they will be described as counter-terrorism, will be to deepen the expulsion of the small farmers currently occupying the lands required by the agricultural corporations to expand their cultivation of export crops. In Chile the presidency is occupied by Chile’s wealthiest capitalist. The recent nationalisation of a Spanish oil company by the government of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina is almost certainly a prelude to its resale to the Brazilian giant Petrobras. Against this background Latin American integration looks increasingly like the strengthening of a new capitalist bloc.

How then can Roland Denis’s “third republic” be reconstituted?23 The truth is that the movement has never disarmed—but it has been incorporated and manipulated by a discourse of popular power that has veiled the continuity of a capitalism now claiming once again its rights over Latin America’s natural resources. Its water, its oil, its gas, its copper, its lithium are the prize that global capital is competing for—the sole change being that today there are more bidders in this grand auction for Latin America’s future. The silence of the left in the face of the attacks on the mass movements—on the Yuxpa peoples and trade union activists in Venezuela, on workers’ protests in Bolivia and on the indigenous communities of Ecuador—is a dereliction.

The social movements live this reality daily. And yet there is an air of confusion, of uncertainty about them. That will not be resolved only by action. It is a moment in which politics should prevail. What future do the movements envisage—and is it really possible to imagine that future without taking power from that still small minority class that controls the means of production and distribution? How is it possible that García Linera can approvingly quote Hardt and Negri in the name of “Andean capitalism”?24 Clearly 21st century socialism has failed those who fought for it. Perhaps this is the moment to return to Marx’s understanding of socialist revolution—the transfer of power from one class to another, the definitive appropriation of the future by the majority who have been denied it thus far. And it will not be won by the acts of powerful individuals or by negotiating with capital on a world scale, but by building an internationalism based on common struggles and on the authentic democracy of a new, self-emancipated, historical subject, a working class whose struggle embraces all those who capital exploits and oppresses.

It is striking that the constitutional changes that have been carried out in the region should be seen as the end point of historical processes, when in fact they have consolidated and ratified political and economic liberalism and closed down the liberation projects of the people. It is even more alarming how…the radical, critical iconoclastic left that challenges the discourse of power has now lowered its critical banners and tries to justify the unjustifiable.25

We can join forces against imperialism without falling silent when governments of the left cease to represent those in whose name they govern. Any socialism of the 21st century can only be produced from below, by a working class movement prepared to conquer its own liberation.


Notes

1: See Webber, 2012.

2: See García Linera, 2011.

3: Petras, 2010.

4: The blatant involvement of Hillary Clinton and the US State Department in the ejection of President Zelaya of Honduras and his replacement by a pliant pro-Washington regime should be seen as a first response to the question posed by Obama during his election campaign in 2008—”Are we losing Latin America?”

5: See, for example, Webber, 2011, p234.

6: See Dangl, 2010, and Petras and Veltmeyer, 2011.

7: Lewis and Olivera, 2004.

8: Zibechi, 2012, p42.

9: “When that happens, then, in much the same way as bees swarm when there is no longer enough honey in the hive to support an expanded population, part of it gets up and flies in search of a new home” -Holloway, 2009.

10: Zibechi, 2012, p66.

11: The film Nine Queens (directed by Feliksas Bielinski, 2002), about a botched bank robbery that coincides with the financial crisis in Argentina, is well worth watching.

12: Raby, 2006, p3.

13: Raby, 2006, p5.

14: The Revolution Will Not be Televised (directed by Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briain, 2003).

15: Wilpert, 2007, p147.

16: Wilpert, 2007, p42.

17: See Stobart, 2010. In May 2012 a new labour law was passed. Its operation remains to be properly tested

18: Marx, 1845.

19: Quoted in Webber, 2011, p85.

20: Denis, 2001.

21: Davalos, 2011.

22: Gonzalez, 2012.

23: See Denis, 2011.

24: Garcia Linera, 2011.

25: Dávalos, quoted in Uzcategui, 2010, p240.


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