[An introduction to a special on the state of the right in Latin America in the latest issue of NACLA argues that like in Bolivia and Ecuador, the marginalised right in Venezuela has had to concentrate its efforts largely outside of the electoral arena: mass demonstrations, propaganda campaigns, and the like.]
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS: THE LATIN AMERICAN RIGHT TODAY
Jan/Feb 2008 - NACLA
"There will be violence, there will be clashes.” So said Bolivian opposition lawmaker Fernando Messmer in November, as six of the country’s departments staged a general strike to protest the rewriting of the national constitution. As we go to print, at least three people have been killed in riots on the streets of Sucre, where the Constituent Assembly meets, after right-wing demonstrations turned into riots. The assembly has been meeting for the past year with little to show for its efforts, largely because the party right has managed to gum up the process with dilatory maneuvers and outright obstruction, while its supporters have taken to the streets, often resorting to violence and harassment.
As Raúl Zibechi argues in this Report’s opening piece, the protests that turned violent are symptomatic of a flailing right wing that since the 2005 election of Evo Morales, the country’s leftist indigenous president, has found itself on the ropes in the face of widespread support for the government. Similar patterns can be found in Ecuador and Venezuela, he writes, where the marginalized right has also had to concentrate its efforts largely outside of the electoral arena: mass demonstrations, propaganda campaigns, and the like.
For the Bolivian case, Bret Gustafson fleshes out this phenomenon,
noting that the right, whose base of power lies in the resource-rich
eastern lowlands, “is regrouping through a two-pronged strategy of
promoting a regionalist vision of ‘autonomy’ and rebuilding a national
party apparatus.” It has pursued this through a variety of means,
including extralegal violence, while appropriating the emancipatory
discourse long associated with the country’s left and indigenous
But this kind of right-wing backlash politics is not representative of the entire region. As Zibechi notes, “There has not arisen a single, unitary new right in Latin America, since the political processes in every country are markedly different, making generalizations difficult.”
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