The New South America

Thursday 9 April 2009, by Ignacio Ramonet

The recent victory in El Salvador of Mauricio Funes, candidate or the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN), has a threefold meaning. For the first time, the Left manages to wrest power from the hard-line Right, which had always dominated this unequal country (0.3 percent of Salvadorans hoard 44 percent of the wealth). More than one-third of all Salvadorans live under the threshold of poverty and another third is forced to migrate to the United States.

Funes’ success at the polls also demonstrates that the FMLN was right when, in 1992 and in the context of the end of the Cold War, it abandoned the guerrilla option after a 12-year conflict that took 75,000 lives, and adopted the road of political combat and the ballot box. At this point, in this region, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place. That is the subliminal message sent — particularly to the Colombian FARC — by this FMLN victory.

Finally, Funes’ victory confirms that the winds that are favorable to the Lefts continue to blow strongly in South America [1]. Since Hugo Chávez’s historical victory in Venezuela 10 years ago, which cleared the road, and despite the media campaigns of fear-mongering, more than a dozen progressive presidents have been elected by popular vote on platforms that announce social transformation of great breadth, a fairer redistribution of wealth, and the political integration of social sectors that were previously alienated or excluded.

While in the rest of the world (very particularly in Europe) the Lefts, distant from the popular classes and committed to the neoliberal model that has caused the current crisis, appear exhausted and bereft of ideas, in South America, stimulated by the powerful energy of the social movement, the new socialists of the 21st Century overflow with political and social creativity. We are witnessing a renaissance, a true refounding of that continent and the final act of its emancipation, initiated two centuries ago by Simon Bolívar and the other Liberators.

Although many Europeans (even leftist Europeans) may not know it — because of the colossal wall of lies erected by the big media conglomerates to conceal the truth — South America has become the most progressive region in the planet. It is the place where more changes are being made in favor of the popular classes and where more structural reforms are being adopted to emerge from dependence and underdevelopment.

Beginning with the experience of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, and with the encouragement of presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, an awakening of the indigenous people has taken place. Significantly, these three states have resorted to referendums to write new Constitutions.

Shaken to its foundations by winds of hope and justice, South America also has given a new direction to the great dream of integration of the peoples, not only of the markets. In addition to the Mercosur, which shelters the 260 million inhabitants of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, the most innovative institution in its promotion of integration is the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (ALBA).

Its members [2] have achieved a stability that allows them to devote themselves to the struggle against poverty, misery, alienation, and illiteracy, to guarantee their citizens an education, health care, housing and decent jobs.

Thanks to the Petrosur project, those nations also have achieved a greater energy cohesion, as well as a significant increase in their agricultural production that will enable them to achieve food sovereignty. Thanks to the creation of the Bank of the South and a Common Monetary Zone (ZMC), they are also moving toward the creation of a common currency that could be named the sucre [3]

On March 9, several South American governments [4] took a step that seemed inconceivable: they decided to form the Council for South American Defense (CDS), an organization of military cooperation created through the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), an organization founded in Brasília in May 2008.

Thanks to these recent instruments of cooperation, the new South America will attend — more united than ever — its big date with the United States at the Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain (Trinidad & Tobago), April 17-19. There, the South American leaders will engage in debate with the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, who will state his vision of U.S. relations with its neighbors to the South.

In his recent visit to Washington, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva asked Obama to totally lift the United States’ economic embargo against Cuba, arguing that it is opposed by all the countries in the region [5]. On March 11, Washington announced that Cuban-Americans may visit whoever they want on the island once a year and remain in Cuba as long as they wish. Although during his presidential campaign, Obama promised to maintain the embargo, it seems that an era of rapprochement between Havana and Washington is approaching. It was time.

Still to happen is a normalization of relations with Venezuela and Bolivia. More broadly, Washington must admit that the concept of a "back yard" is over, that the people of South America have begun their march. And that this time they won’t stop.

Ignacio Ramonet, a Spanish journalist and writer, was editor of Le Monde Diplomatique.


[1] The concept of South America, which Venezuelan Bolivarianism supports, surpasses that of "Latin America" because it acknowledges the participation of indigenous nations and people of African descent, and encompasses countries and territories whose "Latin Americanness" is questionable. In other words, the traditional concept of "Latin America" is unable to define the South American space as a package of realities, from the Rio Grande and the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego.

[2] Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela (Ecuador is an observer nation.)

[3] Single System for Regional Compensation.

[4] Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.

[5] Costa Rica and El Salvador, the only two countries in the region that had no diplomatic relations with Havana, announced in March their decision to reestablish them.

April 9 - 15, 2009

From Le Monde Diplomatique

Vous avez aimé cet article?

  • Le Journal des Alternatives vit grâce au soutien de ses lectrices et lecteurs.

    Je donne

Cet article est classé dans :

Partagez cet article sur :

Articles de la même rubrique

Analysis and Articles

In Defence of Neve Gordon

Articles du même auteur

Ignacio Ramonet

Liberté pour Julian Assange !

Articles sur le même sujet


Charlemagne Peralte : une figure de la résistance paysanne haïtienne

Je m’abonne

Recevez le bulletin mensuel gratuitement par courriel !

Je soutiens

Votre soutien permet à Alternatives de réaliser des projets en appui aux mouvements sociaux à travers le monde et à construire de véritables démocraties participatives. L’autonomie financière et politique d’Alternatives repose sur la générosité de gens comme vous.

Je contribue

Vous pouvez :

  • Soumettre des articles ;
  • Venir à nos réunions mensuelles, où nous faisons la révision de la dernière édition et planifions la prochaine édition ;
  • Travailler comme rédacteur, correcteur, traducteur, bénévole.

514 982-6606