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  • Argentina's former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof speaks at a press conference, Jan. 29, 2014.

    Argentina's former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof speaks at a press conference, Jan. 29, 2014. | Photo: EFE FILE

Published 6 August 2018

Latin America today does not suffer from a neoliberal crisis but we are rather in a territory of uncertainty and dispute.

Several political and social analyst have highlighted the restructuring and rise of the right-wing in Latin America. After approximately 15 years of what has been called popular and national governments, characterized by progressive policies, the region is facing the rise of more conservative, neoliberal and right-wing governments. Ivan Duque being sworn-in on Tuesday, Aug. 8th, is just one example of it.

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Since 1998, after the electoral triumph of Hugo Chavez Frias and to this date, there has been up to 14 progressive democratically elected governments.

From that moment a series of efforts began, in order to destabilize these governments. Soft coups against progressive presidents started, the first one against Chavez which failed, then another against Honduras' Manuel Zelaya, followed by a parliamentary maneuver against Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, and partially ending with a parliamentary coup against Brazil's Dilma Rousseff. These processes have been defined as"lawfare", such as the current legal wrangling against Lula, to which we can add the newer one against Rafael Correa, Jorge Glas in Ecuador and a very similar proceeding against Cristina Kirshner in Argentina.

Today, 10 of these governments have practically been defeated or betrayed, either via the electoral route (Sebastián Piñera, Mauricio Macri or Lenin Moreno) or by means of unconstitutional and illegal coups.

In an exclusive teleSUR interviewed Argentinian federal lawmaker Axel Kicillof, former Economy Minister during the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. 

1) From your perspective how can the success, in the recovery of physical and political spaces of the neoliberal offensive be explained?

I would not talk about a wave or a neoliberal success. I think the world is experiencing, since 2008, a global crisis from which it has not recovered, this world crisis has had different stages and an evolution from which it has not recovered and that has hit in heterogeneous ways over time since 2014 and it has struck very strongly in Latin America. 

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In the context of this crisis,  a strong political instability has been generated where governments who were in charge have suffered the blow and have had economic and political difficulties. What has led the populations, I believe, to a state of mind where they became more demanding and this generated doubts about these governments. Today I could generalize this to Europe and the United States. This economic crisis that has caused problems everywhere, uncertainties everywhere, has also generated a strong political instability. 

We see it in European countries where before each election it is not known if an expression of a right-wing even the one that is related to totalitarian movements and their ideas will win, or if it is a representative of a left who did not seem to have opportunities, who will win. We have seen it in France, where the dispute was between Melenchon or Le Pen, and in the United States where you had Bernie Sanders against Trump. When any of these politicians gain access to the government nobody knows what they will do.

We have seen it in Latin America with the case of Kuczynski, we have seen it in the case of Mexico now with the triumph of AMLO. I think it's undefined, that the peoples of Latin America, that our societies are living a very complex economic and international situation whose definition is still unknown. 

So it is a dispute. Latin America today does not suffer from a neoliberal crisis but we are rather in a territory of uncertainty and dispute.

2) In your country specifically, in addition to the restoration of right-wing governments, have political parties or movements of the right been created or strengthened? What do you think of extreme right-wing figures like Bolsonaro, Uribe or Kast? Do you think these as an emergence of the more reactionary side of the right-wing?

Societies are going through a complex era, and in complex times very diverse expressions appear. One of those is the most reactionary old right-wing, but we do not have to go that far (this in regards to Bolsonaro, Kast or Uribe, which are not presidents right now). Both Temer and some elements that take part in the Macri government participate in those ideas, which we could have believed they no longer had any role anywhere in the world. 

But I believe that our societies are mature enough not to make such strong reversals to the times of the past. I believe that the peoples of Latin America during 10 or 12 years saw growth, distribution, industrialization, improvements in their living conditions, huge sectors that were part of situations of vulnerability and poverty could access consumption levels that were closer to those of middle-class sectors, this is a phenomenon that occurred in Latin America. 

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It seems to me that our societies want to preserve that and not lose it. The most reactionary thought believes that it is a good thing there is a lot of poverty and believe in a more polar society, if we manage to engage people on that discussion it is difficult to return to these kinds of policies.

3) Do you consider that there is a political resurgence of the Armed Forces as a factor of pressure in favor of the right?

There are some attempts that appear. But I think it is very difficult to ignore the history, that shows that the Armed Forces of our countries have a very important role to fulfill but can not become a political party.

4) Do you consider that, on the one hand, the victory in Mexico of President López Obrador, and on the other, the resistance that Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia have managed to develop, could be the beginning of a reversal of this "conservative restoration." Or are we still far away? How do you see the possibility of recovering lost spaces?

Let me reiterate. I think that Latin America is in an area of uncertainty and definition. On one side are the conservative and reactionary forces. On the other side is a good part of our society, a good part of our people who are going to fight and battle for their rights. That happens in countries where governments with a more progressive tendency are ruling. But also in countries where there are already neoliberal political forces in charge, where that opposition and resistance have not been overlooked either. We are witnessing a moment where we must wait and see how these contradictions are resolved.

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Para que le dan prensa a este incompetente y nefasto? si no puede ni administrar un kiosco ................
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