Radical Democracy Is Resurgent in Latin America. How Will the US Respond?

Chile has become the global capital of resurgent opposition to neoliberalism and resistance to fascism, electing the world’s youngest president, Gabriel Boric, a former student protest leader of 35 years. Boric, a member of Chile’s congress since 2014 and law school graduate, will lead the country’s first left unity government since the bloody United States-backed military coup which overthrew democratically elected leader Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 (the “other September 11”).

The left’s decisive victory in Chile, with about 55 percent of the voteHe was supported by a large number of young women and girls. This included a 1-million vote margin over his far right opponent, José Antonio Kast, who positioned himself as an heir to the legacy of the Gen. Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. Boric’s mandate simultaneously embodies the hopes awakened by Chile’s national popular uprising in October and November 2019, and a rejection of Kast’s embrace of, and personal connections to, the Pinochet regime. These included his older brother’s strategic roles as head of the country’s central bank and labor minister. Kast waged an offensive that included racist, xenophobic, and patriarchal appeals. need to restore “national security” and “order,” and to defend “traditional family values” in the wake of the 2019 protests.

The historic shift that resulted is significant for the U.S. and for the Latin American, Caribbean, and global regions. Similar hopes were awakened 50 years ago by President Allende’s Popular Unity government in Chile, which was targeted by the U.S.During the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger was secretary of state and national security adviser. eventually overthrown with U.S. encouragement.

Thousands of victims were killed, disappeared, tortured and exiled throughout 17 years of dictatorship under Pinochet, who turned Chile into a global model for the neoliberal orthodoxy associated with the disciples of Milton Friedman and the “Chicago Boys.” The so-called “Chilean Miracle”It closely correlated with the politics and policies of President Ronald Reagan in the U.S., and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the United Kingdom. This model was quickly replicated regionally. disastrous results, in countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, and globally through the so-called “Washington Consensus” promoted by the U.S. through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Many in Chile and Latin AmericaWe are eager to see how the outcome of this investigation unfolds. U.S. will react to a Boric administration and a governing coalition that includes Chile’s Communist Party as a partner. As more people see the U.S.A and the European Union as “a bad idea”, they will be seen more widely. threats to global democracySocial movements in Latin America and elsewhere are thriving mobilizing to defend the democratic result of Chile’s elections, as they did during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Boric’s victory reflects a new alignment of political forces in Chile which displaces the center-left and center-right blocs which have dominated the spectrum and alternated in power since Pinochet’s ouster in 1990. Boric’s “new left”His first experience as a leader was while he was still a student activist during the contexts of national student protests in 2006 and 2009, which laid the foundations for the 2019 uprising. The huge 2019 protests led to a November 2019 civic pact which initiated Chile’s current constitutional reform process as well as the emergence of the broad left coalition that eventually backed his presidential candidacy.

Boric’s election also reflects an emergent regional trend, coinciding with Xiomara Castro’s November election in Honduras and Luis Arce’s October 2020 election in BoliviaIn each case, the reversal of coups in 2009/2019, respectively, was effective in bringing both countries back in line with the U.S. This trend includes the victory in Peru of Pedro Castillo.

The president-elect’s four-year term will coincide with Chile’s promulgation of a new constitutionThis was intended to end nearly 50 years of authoritarian rule. The Boric presidency thus has a historic opportunity to complete Chile’s prolonged democratic transition and processTransitional justice

The new leader promised in his first address as president-elect that his approach would be focused explicitly on the promotion of “truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition” as guiding threads for his administration’s policies. Boric also prioritized satisfaction of the demands of Chile’s powerful women’s and Indigenous movements as central driving forces in his agenda. This will likely mean that Chile is re-defined as a plurinational and pluricultural state, just as Bolivia did in 2008’s constitution. It will also include new guarantees for reproductive rights and LGBT rights in a country that has traditionally been restricted.

Boric’s campaign was notable for taking an eco-socialist approach to environmental issues. His election night speech rejected controversial $2.5 billion Dominga iron, copper and gold mining project promoted by the Andes Iron company in the Atacama desert, 500 miles north of Santiago and near a conservation area that is home to 80 percent of the world’s Humboldt penguins. “Destroying the world is destroying ourselves. We do not want more ‘sacrifice zones.’ We do not want projects that destroy our country, that destroy communities, and we exemplify this in a case that has been symbolic: No to Dominga,” he said. Outgoing conservative Chilean President Sebastian Piñera recently had to fight off an impeachment process based on his family’s role as investors in the Dominga project, as revealed in the release of the “Pandora Papers” by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism.

The new administration’s approachThe overall commitment to human rights will be central to the meeting. It is particularly focused on the implementation and maintenance of economic and social rights that lay the foundation for a dignified and decent life for all Chileans. This includes rights to education, housing, health, and housing. The focus here is to reverse the effects of neoliberal policy which has increased poverty and inequality, and undermined pensioner rights. This approach is being combined with an emphasis on promoting a “care economy” centered around reinforced state public health guarantees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boric’s presidency faces difficult challenges as it navigates the competing visions for left politics in Latin America during this historical moment. Boric is a supporter of certain aspects of European-style social democracy. This is reflected in his campaign’s emphasis on state guarantees of economic, social and cultural rights, and climate justice. But these characteristics are combined with the “bottom-up” politics that characterize Latin America’s most powerful social movements for human rightsThey are grounded in the demands made by the poor and other marginalized segments. These are also shaped and influenced by feminist demands for equality, against sexual and gender violence, and by Indigenous peoples for autonomy. extractivist mega-development policies paradigms; and in defense for migrant rights. This is a more complex mix than is suggested by analyses that reduce Latin America’s left to polarized camps that are either “statist” or “anti-state”(or autonomist) and so in conflict with each others. Boric’s trajectory and horizons suggest a much more fluid relationship between the state and social movements. But the question in practice will be the extent to which Boric’s administration is directly accountable to the social movements which made his victory possible.

He will be subject to key tests during the constitutional reform process evolvesThis will culminate in a referendum to approve a new text. It is expected to be held after July 2022. The new constitution will likely take historic steps to recognize the rights of women and, for the first time ever, Indigenous peoples. Boric will be under pressure to change his campaign platform or reaffirm it. The elected assembly which is drafting the text — the first in the world of its kind to have gender parity — is significantly to the left of Chile’s congress, and of Boric’s second round campaign, which successfully contended for a decisive slice of a bloc of centrist voters.

But Boric’s mandate was also spurred by a significant increase in turnout that was concentrated among women and younger voters, and overall by those who supported the massive 2019 protests. The balance struck in governance and implementation between these sectors will shape the new governing coalition’s aspirations and their limits.

Already, both national and global markets are thriving reacted negatively to Boric’s victory, which will accelerate pressures by global capital and its local allies to moderate his campaign pledges. Boric will have to navigate the increasingly intense regional and global rivalry between traditional U.S. hegemony and China’s ascent, as a Latin American country which has positioned itself as a key player in the Pacific Basin. China and other Asian countries are by far Chile’s most important trade partners(57.7%) of global exports in 2020, far outpacing North America (15.2% percent U.S. and Canada), other Latin American nations (13.1%) and Europe (12.2%)

It is also closer and more troubled U.S. allies like Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia that have lower levels of democratic legitimacy, human rights compliance, and are less dependent on U.S. dominance than states that could become more independent, such as Chile or Peru. Honduras’ vulnerability to U.S. interference in drug war and long-standing forced migration processes makes it a more difficult case. U.S. sanctions tend to strengthen rather than to weaken its targets, and this is why U.S. hegemony tends to exercise through sanctions. harm the most vulnerable sectorsThese countries have been selected in this way. It is also possible to find extensive information. debate about the empirical evidenceRegardless of whether or not such measures have an impact on the promotion of democracy.

This is further emphasized by the U.S. sanction against this country Cuba, Venezuela NicaraguaWhich violate international lawThey are deeply rooted and influenced by Cold War assumptions, methods, and have themselves undermined democratic options in those settings. As the U.S. responds, potential center-left victories in Colombia and Brazil in 2022 will further test these trends. The Biden administration’s actual response to the left’s victory in Chile, and that of global and national capital, in practice, beyond the traditional rhetoric of welcoming messages, will be a crucial indicator.