an antidote to socialism pops up in managua

The Sao Paulo Forum, the left leaning gathering of Latin American countries, is now in its 21st year. Formed in 1990 at the initiative of Brazil’s Partido de Trabajadores, it has continued to meet, its latest coming together happening last week in Managua.

It’s more of a talking shop than some of the other regional bodies which have since come to prominence. The ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas – includes countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. In recent years it has become much more concrete, a process best described by academics such as Thomas Muhr, who writes convincingly about the gains for the bloc and individual countries (see TINA Go Home! ALBA and Re-theorizing Resistance to Global Capitalism).

Another wide gathering of Latin American countries has also been making progress. UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations – was formally constituted in 2008, and its founding treaty became active this March. One of its most visible foreign policy achievements so far has been the wave of Latin American countries recognising Palestine since the new year. This followed negotiations between UNASUR and the League of Arab States in 2010.

But with the Left and Centre Left governments in the region forming closer working ties, what’s the Right up to? Well, not too much, but what it is doing leaves an unpleasant taste. In December under the banner of “The Future of Freedom in a Global World”, a clique of Rightists got together in Santiago mainly to attack Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Such well known defenders of democracy as ex-Presidents Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia and Jose Maria Aznar of Spain were there, together with Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel literature winner from Peru, and an incomparably better writer than politician.

Much more worrying than this collection of has beens and never wuzzes is a gathering which is meeting next week in Managua. The Antidote to 21st Century Socialism will be holding a forum hosted by the ‘civil society’ organisation the Movement for Nicaragua, a creation of the US National Endowment for Democracy, which also funds it. According to the Nicaragua Network, the self proclaimed purpose of the forum is to ‘unmask the supposed blessings of that political current (21st century socialism) which has Castroite origins”. Just in case you might want to know what the ‘antidote’ is, then there’s a clue in the headline speaker, Honduran Roberto Micheletti,  who will appear by video link. He was one of the figures who organised the military coup there in June 2009, and was the de facto President.

The recipients of this ‘antidote’ include another three journalists killed in Honduras over the past couple of months, joining the ten gunned down last year. Obviously the participants in the meeting will be keen to see their medicine spread to all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, after it was administered so effectively by military governments during the 70s and 80s.

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