April 23, 2013
Check out this interview I just conducted with al-Jazeera about the Paraguayan election and return of the dreaded Colorado Party. Other panelists included Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at American University, and Kregg Hetherington, who teaches at Concordia University.
It's depressing to think that just a few short years ago, former President Fernando Lugo was poised to ameliorate grinding poverty and social inequality in the Paraguayan countryside. Yet, because he committed a number of internal political mistakes and failed to galvanize the peasantry, Lugo made it easy for the Paraguayan right to depose him in what some observers called a "quasi-coup" [for a run down of Lugo's many missteps, see my very extensive WikiLeaks archive here].
Perhaps, if Lugo had been more radical and pushed for greater land reform, or made more of a point of rebuffing the U.S., he would have received more support from civil society when push came to shove. Unfortunately, the return of the Colorado Party will surely lead to more rural repression and rollback of the left. Moreover, the defeat of the left at the polls suggests a wider political malaise for the Latin left at the regional level. Witness Venezuela, for example, where Nicolas Maduro has held on, but just barely, and the Bolivarian Revolution is on the skids.
How have things changed so dramatically in just a few scant years? In my view, the left has not electrified the population and has thereby given the resurgent right an opening. Furthermore, the U.S. will no doubt exploit the left's missteps in Paraguay and elsewhere. As I explain in my pieces, no one seems to know what U.S. Special Forces are doing in Paraguay, though some allege that they are simply deployed to the Chaco to identify trouble making rural leaders. Meanwhile, shadowy Texas oil companies like Crescent benefited from the Lugo shakeup in the Chaco though to my knowledge no journalist has followed up on the story. Because Paraguay is so remote and far away, even the U.S. left has been slow to demand more accountability and investigation of these matters.
So, what comes now? Once the left has gotten over this initial reversal, it should soberly take stock of the regional milieu. For my money, the Paraguay fiasco underscores the need for a larger political movement within the Southern Cone. In order to achieve true social justice in the Paraguayan countryside, Brazilian landless squatters are going to have to ally with their Paraguayan counterparts across the border in an effort to counteract the power and influence of so-called "Brasiguayos": Brazilian planters who settled in Paraguay to cultivate soymeal.
These Brasiguayos, who number on the order of 350,000, are a big obstacle to rural change. Though Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is a nominal leftist, she will be reluctant to stand up against landed interests and agribusiness. Nevertheless, if they hope to make any headway, social movements are going to have to pressure not only the authorities in Asuncion but also entrenched and powerful interests in Brasilia.
August 15, 2012
August 11, 2012
My latest about Brazil and its wider role in South America now out. Click here to read the article.
August 9, 2012
July 24, 2012
Few people know what the U.S. is up to in the remote Chaco region of South America. Let the debate begin and read my article here.
July 21, 2012
Just had a conversation with Amy Grundig, host of "Sounds of Dissent" on WZBC Boston. We discussed the recent impeachment of Paraguay President Fernando Lugo, U.S. interests in the Chaco region, and the mysterious case of Crescent Oil, a Texas-based company which benefited from the recent power shakeup. To listen, go here and then click on "Sounds of Dissent" for 12:00 on Saturday July 21st, 2012. The segment begins at about 41:19.
July 18, 2012
July 13, 2012
To check out the story, click here.
July 12, 2012
July 8, 2012
May 5, 2012
My big piece about up and coming power Brazil and what's behind the story in terms of big power rivalry with the U.S. To read the article, click here.
August 6, 2011
April 22, 2008