miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2007

Vargas Llosa, Castañeda, Shifter y Zizek...

Encontré por ahí artículos interesantes, de Mario Vargas Llosa; sobre Venezuela, de Jorge Castañeda y Michael Shifter; y un comentario de Zizek en el que llama a respaldar a Chávez (para todos los gustos).

The Paradoxes of Latin America
Mario Vargas Llosa

What does it mean to feel you are Latin American? It means being aware that the territorial boundaries dividing our nations are artificial, imposed arbitrarily during the colonial years. And neither our leaders during the emancipation period nor the republican governments that followed bothered to correct that situation. In fact, they often worsened things by further separating and isolating societies whose commonalities were deeper than their petty differences. This balkanization of Latin America, unlike what took place in North America, where the Thirteen Colonies became the United States, has been one of the conspicuous factors in our underdevelopment. It has engendered nationalism, war and conflict, bleeding our nations and wasting natural resources that could have been used for modernization and progress.

Only in the cultural arena was Latin American integration a reality, the result of experience and necessity—everyone who writes, composes, paints or practices any creative endeavor discovers that what unites us is more important than what separates us. In other areas—politics and economics, especially—attempts to unify governmental actions and markets have always been thwarted by the nationalist reflexes ingrained in the continent. That is why all of the plans conceived to unite the region have failed.

National boundaries, however, do not mark the true differences that exist in Latin America. These differences thrive in the bosom of each country and, in a transverse way, encompass regions and groups of countries. There is a Westernized Latin America that speaks Spanish, Portuguese and English (in the Caribbean and in Central America) and is Catholic, Protestant, atheist or agnostic; and there is an indigenous Latin America, which in countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia comprises millions of people. That Latin America retains pre-Hispanic institutions, practices and beliefs. But even indigenous culture is not homogeneous, and it constitutes yet another archipelago that experiences different levels of modernization. While some languages and traditions—Quechua and Aymara—are the patrimony of vast social conglomerations, others, like the Amazonian cultures, survive in small communities, sometimes just a handful of families.

Fortunately, mestizaje—racial mixing—extends in all directions, bringing these two worlds together. In some countries, Mexico for example, mestizaje has integrated the bulk of society both culturally and racially. It represents the greatest achievement of the Mexican Revolution—transforming the two ethnic extremes, Native Americans and Europeans, into minorities. This integration is less dynamic in the other countries, but it is still going on and it will ultimately give Latin America the distinctive identity of a mestizo continent. But let’s hope it does so without making it totally uniform and erasing its subtle differences, though that is certainly possible in this century of globalization and interdependence among nations.

What is imperative is that, sooner rather than later, liberty and legality will be conjoined, thanks to democracy. Then all Latin Americans, regardless of race, language, religion and culture, will be equal before the law, will enjoy the same rights and opportunities, and will coexist in diversity without being discriminated against or excluded. Latin America cannot renounce its cultural diversity, which is what makes it a model for the rest of the world (...)


The Beginning of the End
by Michael Shifter

Yes, he's still in control, but Chavez's defeat last Sunday will galvanize Venezuela's opposition movement and change his reign forever.
Friday, December 07, 2007

Even before Sunday's stunning defeat of President Hugo Chavez's constitutional reform package in Venezuela, it was clear that his rule had reached a turning point. Win or lose, Venezuela's politics had already changed in fundamental ways. The tired narrative of the astute populist soaked in oil money, railing against discredited political parties, an inept opposition, and George W. Bush had already given way to a new scenario.

Last May, Chávez failed to renew the license of a popular TV station, prompting university students to mobilize against the regime's authoritarian tendencies. Chávez ignored these signs of mounting discontent and pushed ahead with "reforms" that amounted to little more than a flagrant power grab. Once again, the students took to the streets. In contrast to the traditional opposition, the students wisely did not demand Chávez's immediate ouster, instead focusing on safeguarding democratic norms. For the first time, disparate opposition sectors were joined by vocal and credible dissident chavistas, including a recent defense minister. Their support helped create the razor-thin loss for Chávez (...)


Chavismo Without Chávez?
by Jorge Castañeda

The former foreign minister of Mexico on what the future holds for Venezuela.
Friday, December 14, 2007

The best clue as to where Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez is headed after his country's December 2 referendum can be found by closely examining his recent erratic behavior--though it is more difficult than ever to foresee the actions of this increasingly unpredictable, though incredibly resilient, political figure.

During the weeks leading up to the vote, Chávez picked fights with everyone he could find. First, he accused José María Aznar, the former Prime Minister of Spain, of being a "fascist serpent, worse than a human being." Then, when Juan Carlos I, the Spanish monarch, asked him to "shut up," Chávez had his ally, Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan president, insult Spanish companies, forcing the king to abandon the room where all of this blustering was taking place, at the 17th Ibero-American Summit in Chile. Subsequently, instead of trying to mend fences with the Spaniards, the Venezuelan leader demanded that Juan Carlos apologize; needless to say, this has not occurred.

Chávez also "froze" relations with his neighbor, Colombia, after its president, Alvaro Uribe, cut off a misguided mediation effort by Chávez, whereby the Caracas caudillo would attempt to free a large number of hostages held by the FARC, the main Colombian guerrilla group. After approving it initially, Uribe put an end to the effort when he discovered that Chávez was negotiating with the Colombian military. Chávez responded with his now customary insults--Uribe was nothing more than a "puppet" of the United States--and recalled his ambassador in Bogotá. Granted, Chávez had been offending other statesmen for years now: Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón of Mexico (he called the latter a "caballerito," or tin soldier, early this year, and questioned his electoral victory last year), Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, Alan García of Peru, the Brazilian Senate (which he has accused of being a Bush "lap-dog"), not to mention Bush himself.

We now know that behind all of this conduct lay Chávez's well-placed nervousness regarding the outcome of the referendum: He knew he was losing, and became more and more desperate over his imminent defeat. When it came--and probably by significantly more than the official, razor-thin, 1.4 percent margin--and when the Venezuelan military high command apparently "dissuaded" Chávez from trying to manipulate the results, he embarked upon an even more eccentric path. Although he initially sounded sensible and even gracious in defeat, he quickly began to lash out at his opponents, labeling their victory "full of shit," and threatening to move ahead with the legislative changes Venezuelan society had just rejected. His purported secret trip to Havana 48 hours after the vote probably did little to tranquilize him. There is every reason to believe his somewhat bipolar attitudes will continue in the next few days and weeks, at least until some type of normalcy returns to the Venezuelan political scene (...)


15 November 2007
Slavoj Žižek
Resistance Is Surrender

(...) It is striking that the course on which Hugo Chávez has embarked since 2006 is the exact opposite of the one chosen by the postmodern Left: far from resisting state power, he grabbed it (first by an attempted coup, then democratically), ruthlessly using the Venezuelan state apparatuses to promote his goals. Furthermore, he is militarising the barrios, and organising the training of armed units there. And, the ultimate scare: now that he is feeling the economic effects of capital’s ‘resistance’ to his rule (temporary shortages of some goods in the state-subsidised supermarkets), he has announced plans to consolidate the 24 parties that support him into a single party. Even some of his allies are sceptical about this move: will it come at the expense of the popular movements that have given the Venezuelan revolution its élan? However, this choice, though risky, should be fully endorsed: the task is to make the new party function not as a typical state socialist (or Peronist) party, but as a vehicle for the mobilisation of new forms of politics (like the grass roots slum committees). What should we say to someone like Chávez? ‘No, do not grab state power, just withdraw, leave the state and the current situation in place’? Chávez is often dismissed as a clown – but wouldn’t such a withdrawal just reduce him to a version of Subcomandante Marcos, whom many Mexican leftists now refer to as ‘Subcomediante Marcos’? Today, it is the great capitalists – Bill Gates, corporate polluters, fox hunters – who ‘resist’ the state (...)


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