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  • Venezuelan opposition protesters demonstrate against the administration of President Nicolas Maduro.

    Venezuelan opposition protesters demonstrate against the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 January 2018
2018 will definitely be an even more difficult year for Latin America than the year just gone, on every front.

Ever since former U.S. President George W. Bush made his spurious announcement of the end of the second Iraq War, the steady ratcheting down of Western power and influence has been clear.

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The Western corporate elites and their sales force of bought-and-paid-for Western political leaders had a two decade geopolitical window of opportunity to defend their perceived interests. That window is closing fast.

Their essential choice was between either reaching a peaceful accommodation with emerging rivals like China and Russia globally, and Iran and Venezuela regionally or else make some variety of war, hot or cold, to maintain their global ascendancy. They chose to make war and now, as the window closes, regional and global conflict can only intensify until the West suffers an entirely predictable strategic defeat. The defeat is likely to be piecemeal across various theaters rather than a single military or economic blow.

For example, in the perception management propaganda theater, the insane false belief that the U.S. government and its NATO allies mean well and are generally a force for good in the world is now almost universally dismissed in the majority world. That categorical disenchantment has a corrosive, osmotic effect on all kinds of realities involving the credibility of Western social and cultural models and economic trust and goodwill. What that disjointed, uneven process of global adjustment augurs for Latin America is greater, more complex instability until the region is able to resolve a broad realignment in the new multipolar world.

Glib, useless cliches like “pink tide” or “conservative restoration” have zero explanatory power to elucidate the dynamics at work in this regional and global context. Among the diverse imperatives driving social and economic change in Latin America and the Caribbean the most fundamental is the demand of the impoverished majority for a better life combined with meaningful participation in political decision making. Regional elites resist that demand abusing the institutions of representative electoral democracy and leveraging their corrupt accumulated privilege in every sphere of national life.

With few exceptions, the elites control national media, the judiciary, the electoral institutions, the security forces, the financial system, all generally backed up by repressive social and religious culture inherited from colonial times. Intervening on their side too, they have the corporate power of North American and European capital desperate to thwart the challenge of Asian rivals, especially, but not only, China, to their control of Latin America’s fabulously abundant natural resources. The tremendous tension resulting from the pressure for change from the impoverished majority driving against elite resistance at any cost is intertwined with the accelerating decline of Western power, influence and control.

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So the regional elites try to maintain their privilege by playing off traditional neocolonial relationships with their Western senior partners-in-crime against relationships being negotiated with new, increasingly economically dominant, Asian partners, especially China. Practically everything happening in Latin America and the Caribbean derives from these processes. Their underlying logic implies the probable collapse over the next five years of current right wing ascendancy in the region, because the right wing governments in Argentina and Brazil have nothing to offer popular demands for a better life.

Assuming progressive and radical political forces are able to combine so as to repeat their electoral victories of this century’s first decade, the electoral prospects for the right wing over the next five years are bleak, because their neoliberal economic policies are bound to fail their countries’ majorities. The only possible response for corrupt phonies like Mauricio Macri, and his counterparts in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, for example, is to intensify repression, double down on institutional abuses and deepen their already abject dependence on U.S. government intervention. That is why 2018 is going to be an even more conflict ridden year than 2017.

A majority of people in Venezuela and Honduras have already signaled their rejection of right wing policies in the recent electoral processes of 2017. When President Trump’s administration recognized the fraudulent re-election of Juan Orlando Hernandez as President of Honduras, Evo Morales rightly denounced the decision as yet one more example of U.S. government intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean. Evo contrasted U.S. support for the Hernández gangster regime in Honduras with U.S. attacks on Nicaragua.

Like Cuba and Venezuela, Nicaragua’s case bears out the fatal dependence of Latin America’s right wing on the corrupt, anti-democratic U.S. government to help undermine and if possible destroy progressive governments and political leaders and movements in the region. The Cuban Revolution is entering its 60th year now despite U.S. government terrorist attacks and economic blockade lasting almost as long. President Nicolas Maduro and his government too, against all odds, have successfully defeated every U.S. supported effort to date at regime change.

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So, having failed against Cuba and Venezuela, the U.S. corporate elites have decided to target Nicaragua for its government's successful socialist inspired domestic policies and its independent foreign policy. For now, the attack consists of relatively low level economic sanctions, via the NICA Act and accusing the president of Nicaragua’s electoral authority of corruption. The Trump administration’s crass intensification of enduring “do-what-we-want-or-else” U.S. imperial logic means those measures are likely to intensify through 2018. This explains in great part why Guatemala and Honduras voted against the U.S. General Assembly’s condemnation of the U.S. government’s illegal decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and why El Salvador abstained.

Of the Central American countries only Nicaragua and Costa Rica supported the U.N. vote. U.S. gangster diplomacy focuses ruthlessly on control but even now, Latin America’s collaborationist elites can see that U.S. decline is going to make future collusion with U.S. regional policy counterproductive for them because they can get a better deal in Asia. That is almost certainly part of the behind the scenes deal that lead to the Fujimori pardon in Peru and of events elsewhere too. Given all these dynamics, 2018 will definitely be an even more difficult year for Latin America than the year just gone, on every front.

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