Week 13: On “Towards an Uncertain Future”

I find it very interesting when Dawson implies in the “voice” section that the dichotomy between the left the right is becoming vague. Neither side can remain ideological, and both have to fulfill the basic obligations as a state, including “providing basic services, making godsend services broadly available at relatively low cost, and fostering economic growth”. The ideological attribute of the specific measures they adopt, whether socialist or capitalist, doesn’t matter as much as the actual benefits they bring to the people. Consider how even Cuba has embraced limited private sector openings.

I think it’s important for leaders to realize that they should not be fighting for their own victory of power and wealth, but for the welfare of their country. They should be allies of the people, not enemies or betrayers, especially when it comes to international affairs. The people’s pressure on the state is significant in domestic politics. It’s the long-lasting unresolved grievances and the futility of moderate means to voice their needs that force them to turn to insurrection. Actions like roadblocks are undoubtedly influential in reshaping the political landscape and compelling the state to address the need of a group, but it’s hard to say that they are the desirable solutions. Overall, social instability undermines a country’s ability to develop economy and raising living standard.  Few people would rather risk their lives in rebellion if the state could be effective.

However, underlying the people’s “power” to influence the politicians by insurrection is their despair. After all they don’t have as much power as the authorities, and have to count on the conscience of the state. Indigenous people can claim all the rights, and when it comes to a mining project that would benefit the country, it’s often their rights that are sacrificed. Also, in the Lago Agrio case, as the battle shifts venue and lasts into its twentieth year, it’s the powerless residents of the province of Sucumbíos that have to bear the consequences of the Texaco’s years and live in the land, while the plaintiffs and the defendants play dirty hands. As Dawson points out, perhaps the only truth we can see in this cloudy case is power, shift of power and utilization and abuse of power.

Cases like this Lago Agrio one drains my optimism and confidence in humanity. If Latin America is heading “towards an uncertain future”, in light of the existent states, the conflicts, the international relations, the very recent case of 43 missing students in Mexico, how much faith do you have in that Latin America is heading for the better, not the worse?

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  1. Hey miles, I totally understand your frustration about cases like Lago Agrio, it stands as a clear cut example of the damaging amount of power that foreign interests can have in a region, to the point of complete environmental degradation with no oversight, liability, etc.. It certainly drains my optimism to know that more often than not money and power, rather than truth, is what dictates justice. I have faith that Latin America is heading toward a better future but only because being latina myself I feel it necessary to have this faith for my people. I think Latin America is definitely a better place than how it was 20 years ago, and although it still faces many problems, all you can do is have faith that it will continue to grow and heal with time.

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