Tag Archives: United States

Week Thirteen

This week I focused on Max Cameron’s video, “The Left Turns.” Cameron, a professor of political science at UBC, took a more hopeful and uplifting look at Latin America than the previous weeks readings and videos. More specifically, he talked about democracy and the reasons for the rise of the Left. According to Cameron, the three biggest reasons are:

  1. Disenchantment with neoliberalism
  2. Disappointment with the functioning of democracy
  3. International Context

When it comes to disenchantment with neoliberalism he discussed the “wrenching programs of structural adjustment” that certain countries were forced to go through. He claims that these were “unsuccessful even on neoliberalism’s own terms.” Growth under neoliberalism has changed over the past decade, although this is thanks to international prices and not neoliberalism. Cameron also mentions Bolivia as a weak institution pointing out the privatization of water. It is no secret that Bolivia’s water crisis has greatly affected the country. When I was in Cochabamba (fourth largest city in Bolivia) last year, the country was experiencing its’ worst drought in twenty-five years. There were occasions when multiple days would go by without running water in the entire city. This meant that little things that we take for granted here in Canada, such as doing laundry and showering were not always possible. Bolivia’s poor population is of course always hit the hardest when this occurs.

Anyways, continuing on to Cameron’s second point: the disappointment with the functioning of democracy, he says that Latin America is mostly democratic with “no alternatives to democracy” and that many democracies were formed through bargains among the elites. Cameron’s third point was: International Context. He indicates that Latin America is overall much more autonomous than it used to be, partially because the United States is more concerned with the Middle East and partially because there is a gap in understanding from the US when regarding Latin America. At one-point Cameron points out that if the US was still as involved as before, there would’ve probably been a sponsored coup to overthrow the Evo Morales government in Bolivia in the 1950’s. This of course didn’t happen, but his point got me thinking about what could’ve been different had history played out differently in Latin America. He also brings up that with this newfound autonomy, countries were able to experiment with democracy on their own.

I was intrigued by the two Lefts that exist in Latin America. There’s the “radical, populist, antidemocratic left in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela” and the “mature, responsible, reformist governments in Chile and Uruguay” (Cameron). My question for the week is: what triggers countries to become one side of the Left or the other? What similarities and differences exist between these countries?

Week Twelve

Violence is yet again present in week 12 and Dawson can’t help but agree that there has always been violence in Latin America. This time however, drugs become a major part of the multitude of issues.

I found it really interesting to read about the war on drugs but was not surprised to read that the “successive U.S. administrations declared that they would not approve aid or favorable trade agreements for regimes that did not take an active (some would say militarized) role in disrupting the flow of illicit drugs” (Dawson, 334). The United States has often resorted to the military to “solve” problems and it wasn’t any different in this case. Millions of US dollars in military aid have been sent to countries such as Colombia, Israel, Egypt and Mexico in 2007. As a US citizen I have often wondered where all of our tax money goes and in Mexico and Colombia’s cases, most of the money was used on military equipment. In Mexico, a lot of the money was spent on Blackhawk helicopters and in Colombia, millions of dollars were funneled “to paramilitary groups, many of which have close ties with the military” (Dawson, 335).  I found it terrifying to read that the paramilitaries have attacked many people, especially those trying to establish some order. Also, this is just proving that people will do anything, including harming other people, for money. Money is what motivates people. In this case, the revenues are more or less “$40 billion annually” (Dawson, 335). This is not shocking when considering that “one kilo of cocaine sells for $1,000 in Colombia’s interior, $25,000 in the United States, and $60,000 in Britain” (Dawson, 335). Because this is such an enormous sum of money, I wonder if the drug cartels helped Latin America’s economy in any way.

Another part of this week’s readings and videos that I found intriguing was the massive “No” campaign. It was fascinating to see how many people did not want Augusto Pinochet to continue his rule for another eight years. I really enjoyed listening to the song “No Lo Quiero, No” by Isabel, Javiera and Tita Parra, because I feel like it really shows how powerful this movement was. “Chile la Alegria Ya Viene” was also produced during this time. These songs must have had a really large effect on everyone who listened to them. In the end, General Augusto Pinochet was not reelected because the “No” side won 56% of the vote.