Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Very Interesting

A multipage article by Pedro Sánchez and Gord Westmacott in Canadian magazine The Walrus discusses the problems facing leftist governments in South America. After a five-page nation-by-nation account, they conclude:

So, despite an undeniable rise in popular political expression across the region, nothing in Latin America is certain. “What’s happening,” argues Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “is that the poor — which was an inert political factor, an inert sociological factor — has become a hotbed of rising expectations. What you’re seeing in Latin America is a kind of new political law emerging from the street — if you defraud us on running on a campaign agenda, if you use your platform to simply get into office and then dismiss it, then the people have a right to recall the election by hitting the streets.” For now, the populist wave has cast its lot with the democratic left. But populist movements have a long history of flying any number of flags of political convenience, from doctrinaire Marxism to military dictatorships. Such movements also show a persistent and problematic willingness to blindly deliver their collective power into the waiting hands of a caudillo, the archetypal and charismatic strongman, the father figure who is not always benevolent.

In Macondo, the residents fought valiantly against the hundred years of solitude that threatened to engulf their town. They experienced blissful moments, moments of magic and miracle, but all was ultimately lost. Today, in Caracas and Montevideo, in Buenos Aires and Brasília, the people are demanding a different ending to their own story.

What made me laugh, though, was the lone, anonymous comment.

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