This post was initially going to concern itself with the recent death of Nestor Kirchner. But then I decided that rather than concentrating on the person, it would be better to concentrate on political contexts he helped develop and comment on those vibrant ongoing dynamics.
The economic indicators in the summary are from his time as President of Argentina by the way.
It’s fair to say that the political situation in Latin America is usually ignored by the Anglo-Saxon world, with what news reports we do get usually limited to overt or covert propaganda scare pieces on why we would never want to go down similar tracks to those of Latin America. We have all read the reports on Venezuela that demonise Chavez and ridicule the Bolivarian Revolution. And we have all read the news pertaining to coups in Honduras and attempted coups in Ecuador or the cursory removal of duly elected leaders in Haiti that seek to portray such events as almost natural and benign effects of progress and development. ( I’ve linked to atypical informative pieces)
The result is that slowly over time, the impression is built up that Latin America is a basket case of delusional or dangerous leaders and peoples who need to be saved from themselves.
The fact of the matter is that leaders of Latin America and many of the prescriptions they follow accord with what many of the mainstream left here advocate. And the further fact is that those same leaders have no problem in forming genuine co-operative relationships with other leaders in the region who the mainstream left here would disparage and dismiss out of hand.
There appears to be a broad commonality of cause in Latin America and an acceptance that each country is located in a unique position in relation to that cause due only to different domestic situations, histories and experiences. So whereas Venezuela may be able to push further on some fronts than others in the region in seeking the realisation of the Bolivarian Revolution, it is still disadvantaged in some respects when compared to Cuba or Bolivia. And both Cuba and Bolivia have various advantages and disadvantages in the current climate when compared with each other or to other countries of the region. The point is that there is a general thrust from countries as diverse as Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela that is moving everything in a common direction.
Nestor Kirchner was a contributor to that movement. And the success of his contribution to the advancement of Latin America can reasonably be summarised as resulting from his willingness to give the long finger to the ‘Washington Consensus’ as expressed through the major International Financial Institutions.
Here is an excellent piece from 2007 by Mark Weisbrot entitled How Argentina Jump Started It’s Economy after defaulting on $US 100 Billion of debt in 2001. The parallels with what New Zealand could be doing with regards exchange rate, growth and inflation and adherence to the doctrine of export driven growth ( not to mention standing up to foreign business interests) are obvious.
If the peoples and governments of Latin America can, then New Zealand governments and peoples can. There are obstacles, of course. And unfortunately, one of them is the left in NZ. Or large swathes of it. See, just as many on the left chastise people for buying into the Key/Labour Lite fiction, so those people themselves need perhaps, to sit down and examine their own fictions vis a vis Latin America and question who or what is informing them of events from those shores and why those parties always portray events in a certain, predictably negative light.
When people have an idea, a vision that can inform their hopes for the future, then people will protest and challenge forces that threaten that future. Maybe it is time for the populations (including the governments) of the Anglo-Saxon world, to call the bluff of the international community that forced us into this shotgun wedding with TINA ( the gun’s loaded with blanks) and just leave the building. Maybe it’s time to elope with TARA and recognise that TARA is maybe just a touch Latino in nature.