Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reemergence of Left in Latin America

India International Centre, New Delhi held a panel discussion today with me and Siddharth Varadarajan from The Hindu as panelists. Former Foreign Secretary Shashank was the moderator.
In my speech I spoke about the genesis of left, its evolution, challenges it faced, the Big Brother angle and its implications for India. Points i made
- with 200 million poor people and the highest disparity in wealth Left turn logical and inevitable
-But the left which arose after the Second world war was caught in the cold war and faced external ( u know from whom) and internal challenges. Leftist governments in guatemala and Chile were overthrown. Central America was bloodied when Sandinistas came to power.
- Left gave the perfect excuse for military dictators to take over power in the name of protecting Patrias from internal enemies.
-In the next stage, when democracies were restored, they were trapped in washington Consensus and neoliberal prescriptions. Poor became poorer. Economies faced crises.
- Finally power moved to the streets from barracks and drawing rooms. Those who were excluded and marginalised in the past, finally got empowered. They voted those who promised to respond to their needs. Since they were in majority, they set the political and economic agenda. And this is how left reemerged.
-But it is not wholesale sweeping mandate. While Chavez and Morales got majority votes , it was split mandate for Lula. While he got elected, his party won only 3 out 0f 27 states and his party lost in Rio Grande de sul after 12 years of rule there. Lula could not carry out his agenda effectively because of the obstructive opposition majority in the Congress. Other leaders got varying degrees of mandate.
- New messiahs like Chavez and Evo were able to get elected only since recently. Earlier, the established parties did not allow space for outsiders.
- Bachelet and Lula are pragmatic and pursue policies friendly to masses and to the market in a non-confrontational mode. Chavez is the leader of the radical camp and his agenda is revolution... in its true sense ... revolution in internal society, regional policy and global fight against hegemony on top of a Bolivarian revoltion.
-Message is not enough. Label of left can take one to power but unfulfillment of mandate and delivery can bring it down. happened in Nicaragua when the Sandinistas lost the elections in 1990. happened to Luis Gutierrez. The same masses who elected him, overthrew him in two years when he went astray.
- The ability of outsiders to alter the destiny of latin american countries has come down and latinos have become less vulnerable by becoming collectively strong through regional groups.
- The internal, external and mutilateral policies of the Leftist governments are favourable for India and the Indian business who seek long term partnership with this new Latin America which is moving broadly in the right direction of stability, growth and prosperity.

Of course, these views are personal....

Siddharth touched the ideological part and had some sound advice for the government of India...

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