The Bush years afforded a rise of a new Latin American Left. From Argentina, to Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and even some of the nations in Central America, the people reacted to over a century of US imperialism and voted in governments that were openly hostile to American interests. It was a New Leftist Revolution, or was it?
In many cases the Socialist policies proved false. In states like Brazil and Venezuela the Leftist governments utilised the oil boom to increase government largesse and yet little or nothing was actually done to help the working class establish a sustainable foundation. There was some nationalisation but state ownership was mismanaged and became little more than patronage. Real and viable economic reforms that created jobs and afforded opportunities for workers to invest in society did not materialise.
It was called Socialism and yet it was Patronage Capitalism, the wealth of the society was not based on a vital working class but in the stock and commodities markets and was based essentially on dividends and the consumption practices of wealthy nations. When the price of oil collapsed, the economies began to crack and fizzle. The long tale of corruption quickly emerged and has been heavily exploited by the United States. Through its espionage it has made use of both journalism, well placed politicians and members of the judiciary to unleash a backlash, especially in Brazil where there is a fierce contest underway for control of the nation, its economy and its natural resources.
Raphael Correa long an antagonist to Washington and a thorn in the side of US oil companies has been forced to fight a war of attrition, a long defeat of compromise and struggle. Like the late Hugo Chavez, he has a special loathing for the Empire and yet his economy cannot function without it. It's like the neighbourhood mafia don. You can resist but such resistance can be quite dangerous. He's on his way out of office and there's a viable struggle going on for control of Quito. It isn't too hard to figure out who the United States and Big Oil are backing.
Venezuela's pseudo-Socialist experiment has failed and the legacy of Chavez is under severe threat and pressure. Lula's legacy in Brazil has largely collapsed. He's under legal pressure and his protégé, Dilma Rousseff was forced out in what was essentially a bureaucratic coup. Argentina is once more under Right-wing leadership.
Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega is one of the lone survivors and yet upon close examination his Leftism is something less than pure and is in reality a pragmatic compromise between pro-business policies and social programmes. But Nicaragua is heavily dependent on Venezuela's cheap oil and loans. The fall of Maduro in Venezuela and the eradication of the Chavez legacy will create a crisis for Ortega's FSLN in Nicaragua. This explains in part why the US is pushing so hard on Venezuela. They can get two birds with one stone. These days Ortega isn't half as irritating to Washington as he was in the 1980s but they would still like to destroy him. He represents resistance to the Empire and that can never be allowed to flourish. He committed the cardinal sin during the Reagan years. He made the US lose face. That's unforgivable.
The commodities crisis and scandal have mired the 2nd Bachelet government in Chile and as her term comes to an end, a Right-wing or populist movement has a strong chance of taking the reins of government when the general election occurs in November 2017.
Bolivia's Evo Morales who came to power during the Leftist wave of the Bush years is being marginalised and isolated.
The general election is in 2019. Morales had tried to secure his ability to run for a third term but this was denied by popular referendum. The length of his term, personal scandals and questions of integrity have slowly deteriorated his previously purist image.
His government while ostensibly Leftist has proved once again to be something less than devoted to the working class. His image has further been eroded by strikes and ongoing troubles with labour who have grown impatient with his empty promises. His concessions to energy companies at the expense of the poor and native populations in his country have led to open hostility.
Long targeted by the West, Morales has been the focus of US military positioning in neighbouring Paraguay and a bizarre intriguing plot involving Croatian and Hungarian fascists who were plotting his assassination back in 2009. While some of the figures are connected to members of the Roman Catholic supported Ustaše who fled to South America in the wake of World War II, others are directly connected to the Croatian forces involved in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The US established significant contacts within these groups in the lead up to and even during the dismantling of Yugoslavia. The story reeks of the old Rome/Nazi Gladio narratives from the Cold War.
El Salvador's Leftist government is being set up. Coming to power in part as a legacy of the horrendous US-backed Civil War which raged throughout the 1980s, the coalition compromised of former guerilla and opposition groups has turned to protecting the capitalist class. Crushing labour and employing death squad violence, it has also been corrupted by the drug trade. The police have been thoroughly corrupted resulting in the army being called in. This is yet another old story. The military brutalises the civilian populace and what starts as a police action turns into counter-insurgency. Ultimately it becomes a war against the poor which fuels violence. The gangs become an outlet for social and political anger, the country spirals into death and chaos and the blood-stained fog opens the door to dictatorship.
Latin American domination has been a long-standing US policy, made even before it could be enforced. It's had its ups and downs over the years and seemed in danger during the Bush years. Washington was so focused on its overseas adventures that it was not able to focus on what it perceives as its own backyard. One of the legacies of the Nobel-prize winning Obama administration is that it has quietly laboured with economic forces, the military as well as the intelligence services to turn back this tide and as we enter the Trump era, the Leftist resurgence appears to be nearing its end.
One of the murkiest and perhaps most interesting aspects of this whole episode spanning from the Cold War to today is the role played by the Roman Catholic Church. All too often Rome has collaborated with the various Right-wing militarist regimes in Latin America including the expatriated enclaves and cells of European fascists. Working with the United States under the auspices of Operation Condor, the Latin American Left and with it the Liberation Theology which arose from the Vatican II era reforms were systematically crushed.
Figures like Bergoglio, the present pope, Jesuit and ex-Archbishop of Buenos Aires have lived complicated lives and fulfilled conflicting roles throughout this long struggle. Bergoglio, perhaps once a Right-wing collaborator and even a figure of opposition to Left-wing forces within his native Argentina has re-cast himself in terms of Left-wing populism... forces and an impulse he once opposed. The legacy of the Jesuits is equally complicated. One wonders if in the end he is little more than a pragmatist, playing the necessary role. Or has he really turned his back on a past weighed down by compromise. Bergoglio certainly knows the nature of the game, the relationship between Rome, Langley, Wall Street, organised crime and fascists both new and old. Maybe he's doing what he can to counter their grip on his organisation? And yet in the end he knows all too well the dark legacy of a figure like John Paul II as well as the mythmaking and lies the now shroud his 'sainted' name. Does he hope for the same treatment?
He might get it, even while the Vatican Deep State works to undermine and destroy his legacy.
Even while Francis works to bring about change in the few years he has left, forces within the Catholic body continue to work, moving against the Left and yet at the same time threatened by the rise in Evangelicalism. It would seem they have not yet reached the level of collaboration as is found in places like the United States. Lausanne Movement figures like Luis Palau have laboured fervently to bring about the social and political concord to create a conservative bloc akin to what is found in the United States.
What's the future for Latin America? No one can say for sure but it would seem a cycle is coming to an end and history is reverting to previously seen patterns. The same and yet not the same.