The Post Chronicle
Thu. December 28, 2006
MOSCOW -- The Chinese are said to have 13 words denoting different shades of red. Maybe we should use them in debates about the reddening (or left-leaning) of Latin America.
The "moderately-pink" Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, and the "radically red" Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, could both be branded simply "red" ..but this would affect the precision of the analysis.
There is a general trend that explains, if only partly, why Latin Americans have started going red. It began when the United States, euphoric over the dissolution of the Soviet Union, redirected its attention to the Middle East, Iran and North Korea, invaded Iraq and started spreading democracy to Afghanistan.
This is not the region's first "red period," but this time it has come about without Soviet or Cuban involvement, because the Soviet Union is no more and Cuba is trying to figure out its future now that Fidel is on his deathbed.
Each of the nominally left-wing countries -- Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua -- have turned different shades of red, but all of them for the same reason. Internal factors have had their effect, but external elements have prevailed. Latin America's current leftward drift is a response to the regional policy of the U.S. and multinational corporations, which have never taken into account local interests.
Other potential members of the "red" group are Cuba, half of Peru (a left-wing candidate almost won the presidential election there), and possibly Mexico, which is still split in two by the results of its last election. Left-wing parties lost the elections in Peru and Mexico by a very narrow margin, but won a landslide victory in Venezuela.
The biggest question now is: What will come of it? Nothing much, I'd say. There are several reasons why the region will not become "socialist" ..even if an exuberant Hugo Chavez did promise a new era of socialism after his election victory.
First, it is not Maoists, Trotskyites or Bolsheviks who are marching under red banners in Latin America, but those who want a real rather than phantom sovereignty and a socially oriented economy, and who want to stop the plunder of their natural resources and brazen U.S. interference in their internal affairs.
They don't demand the abolition of private property or the "expropriation of the expropriators." Besides, the banners are mostly carried by old folk and youngsters, and the latter's goal is simply to shock the public with their audacious behavior. These are not diehard Marxists.