Monday, November 27, 2006

Left Wing Pragmatism

Leftist Candidate in Ecuador Is Ahead in Vote, Exit Polls Show

Rafael Correa, an urbane economist who has rattled nerves in Washington with plans to limit American military activities in Ecuador and renegotiate the country’s foreign debt, seemed headed to an easy victory on Sunday in the presidential election, according to several exit polls.A win by Mr. Correa, 43, could bring Ecuador into a group of Latin American nations with leftist presidents, including Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, which are allied with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Mr. Correa has close ties to Mr. Chávez, whose government is prepared to offer Ecuador assistance to strengthen its national oil company.

As I wrote here the new left wing regimes in Latin America are not the old Stalinist model that the red baiting American right likes to claim they are. They have learned the lessons of defeat, of compromise, and that the need to create social democracy is as important as the need for economic social justice.

Depite the rhetorical bluster of a Hugo Chavez, the reality is that the recent victories of the Left in Latin America and now Central America are tempered with realism that they need to develop social captialism, a mixed economy, if they are to get out from under the thumb of Imperialism. Even Chavez is a realist, and his oil compan CITIGO is one of the most successful in the United States, and you can't argue with success.

No shocking revelation that. State Capitalism of the Stalinist model which was based on militarism and rationing, was really the War Communism of the Bolsheviks which was modeled not on Marx but Bismark.

The Cuban revolution was the model for the anti-colonialist movements in the sixties and seventies. But with the electoral success of Allende in Chile that changed. Despite the Pinochet coup, that model is what has been put into practice now in Latin America.

Today's left in Latin America is about as revolutionary as the NDP and no more a threat than they are to the interests of capitalism.

Cold War Icon Ortega Trades Marx for God

But Ortega, who was president in 1985-90, the height of the Contra insurgency, says he has traded war for peace, love and consensus.

His victory speech late Wednesday was tinged with some of his old fire. Raising his arms in victory, he led thousands in a rendition of an old revolutionary song: "The people united will never be divided."

He promoted socialist ideals such as free education and medical care, lambasted U.S. Republicans for the war in Iraq and thanked other leftist Latin American leaders for their support. But most of his speech was dedicated to praising democracy and reaching out to opponents.

"Don't let one criticism slip from your lips against those who didn't vote for us," he warned his supporters. "We have to be humble."

Ortega, who turned 61 Saturday and takes office Jan. 10, has been careful not to sound triumphalist. Even though his strong lead over Harvard-educated banker Eduardo Montealegre was clear soon after Sunday's election, he waited two full days for Montealegre to concede defeat before declaring victory.

His speeches have focused on reassuring skeptics that he plans no radical changes and will embrace free trade, job creation and close U.S. ties.

On Saturday, Ortega said his Cabinet ministers will be named by the people _ not himself _ and he had asked local representatives to send him proposals for candidates. He vowed that half of his top officials would be women and he would include people who didn't vote for him.

He also promised more than 1,000 Sandinista peasant leaders that the government would buy land for people who need it, which they could pay for "little by little even if it is with a sack of corn."

A hard bargain
Evo Morales deals and wins on gas

WHEN Evo Morales, Bolivia's socialist president, announced the “nationalisation” of his country's oil and gas on May 1st, he gave the foreign companies that had invested $3.5 billion in the industry six months to accept new contracts. These would turn them into heavily taxed providers of services to Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), the revived state energy company. Just minutes before the deadline, late on October 28th, ten energy companies signed up to new terms that Mr Morales said will raise the government's energy revenues to $1 billion this year and four times as much by 2010.


State Capitalism


Latin America

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