by Cristina Flores
Hugo Blanco – famously described by Latin American literary giant Eduardo Galeano as a man who was born twice. His first birth was in 1934, and he spent his early years living as a white boy in Cusco, a city where indigenous people were not allowed to walk on the pavement. Unphased by his skin colour, Hugo would play in the streets with his friends, speaking the local language of Quechua. Hugo Blanco’s second birth was at the age of ten. Upon hearing of a local landowner branding the skin of one of the peasants with his initials, Hugo Blanco, the ardent revolutionary was born. Such early consciousness of social injustice still fuels the man today, as I found out on the 27th February when I was lucky enough to attend an evening with Hugo, as part of the promotion of Derek Wall’s latest book, “Hugo Blanco – a revolutionary for life.” As a social activist myself, I was intrigued by what lessons could be learnt from a 20th century revolutionary legend.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: torture, rape, political violence
Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.
Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.
In 2017, the legacy of these leftist Governments lies tarnished – and perhaps the most emblematic of this turn is Venezuela.Continue Reading