Systemic chaos settles in South America

Systemic chaos settles in South America

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By Raúl Zibechi

The first sentence of the report Global Trends towards 2030, issued by the National Intelligence Council of the United States in 2012, highlights that in 2030 the world will have undergone radical changes and that no country will hold global hegemony.

The fifth report of the agency concludes that power has shifted to the east and south and that the Asian economic and strategic space will have surpassed that of Europe and the United States together.

We are in full transition to that world.

Based on that forecast, US elites cling to the analysis of their top geostrategist, Nicholas Spykman. More than half of his work America’s strategy in world politics, published in 1942, is devoted to the role that power must play in Latin America, and in South America in particular. As the Brazilian political scientist José Luis Fiori recalls, the key is the separation of a Mediterranean Latin America from the rest, which includes Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela, as an area where the supremacy of the United States cannot be questioned, a closed sea whose keys belong to Washington.

The rest of South America, the countries outside the zone of their immediate hegemony, are treated only partially differently. Spykman argues that if the great southern states (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) were to unite to counterbalance US hegemony, they should be answered through war. Fiori regrets that the countries of the region, and particularly Brazil, are not as clear on this as the superpower (Valor, 1/29/14).

US hegemony, in both areas, is being undermined by three forces: China, progressive governments, and popular movements.

Together, we have four competing forces whose collision will define the Latin American scene for a long time. In some way, they represent the roles that the Spanish (and Portuguese), English, Creoles and popular sectors played during the independence periods.

The first of these forces, the United States, has military, economic and diplomatic power, as well as powerful allies, to destabilize those who oppose it.

Certainly, it no longer has an almost absolute power like the one that allowed it to chain coups d'état to discipline the region as it pleased in the 60s and 70s.

The second force, China, is basically displaying economic and financial power.

It has invested heavily in Venezuela, Argentina and Ecuador, maintains important relations with Brazil and Cuba, and is carrying out risky projects (for the United States) such as the Nicaragua Canal, which will compete with the Panama Canal.

The first China-CELAC Forum, held in January in Beijing, is a sign of the progress of Chinese relations with Latin America and announces that this process is not going to stop. The third force, progressive governments, is the most hesitant and contradictory.

On the one hand, they rely on emerging countries, especially China, and to a lesser extent Russia.

On the other hand, they rely on the extractive model, which implies an alliance with China (and others), but, above all, it is a mode of accumulation that strengthens the right-wing and the bourgeoisies, just as the industrial model strengthened workers, unions and left parties. Venezuelan oil rentiers need intermediaries separate from the workers, be they managers, administrators or the military. Brazil is a good example.

Mining / soy / real estate extractivism weakens the movements, gives more power and strength to multinationals and urban speculators, to the point that their most conspicuous representatives are in Dilma Rousseff's cabinet.

Continuing with the extractive model is political suicide.

It polarizes society and moves the popular sectors away from the left.

It does not generate corruption: it is corruption, because it is based on the dispossession of peasants and urban poor. For the fourth force, the organized popular sectors that are the axis of this analysis, extractivism / accumulation by dispossession / fourth world war is a permanent aggression to their ways of life and survival.

The great novelty of the last two years is that they are progressively becoming autonomous from progressive governments, largely as a result of the prevailing model, which condemns them to be dependent on social policies, affecting their dignity.

These policies are losing their ability to discipline, as demonstrated in Brazil in June 2013 and increasingly throughout the region. The new-new movements that are emerging, added to the old movements that have been able to reinvent themselves to continue in the fight, are reconfiguring the map of social struggles.

If the progressive governments persist in their alliance with the emerging ones and with fringes of the bourgeoisies of each country, they will continue to widen the gap that separates them from the organized popular sectors.

The movements of those below are the only force capable of defeating the current rise of the Right and US interference.

Just as the cycle of struggles in the late 1990s and early 2000s delegitimized the neoliberal model, only a new cycle of struggles can once again modify the relationship of forces in the region.

As the case of Brazil shows after June 2013, progressive governments are fearful of autonomous movements and prefer to forge alliances with conservative powers.

The citizen

Video: Geopolitics of South America (July 2022).


  1. Lamandre


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