Pedro G. Cavallero reports on a recent study, which declared only 28 world countries to be full-fledged democracies: Argentina, despite its quarter century long struggle towards democratization, did not make the list. In Cavallero‘s opinion, it is clear that Argentina‘s age-old tradition of vesting power in authoritarian leaders, or caudillos, dies hard. And as President Nestor Kirchner continues to accumulate more power and attempt to circumvent constitutional safeguards on term limits, he is contributing to the weakening of democratic institutions.
Ricardo Israel Z. explains the significance of the death of Augusto Pinochet for Chile, and its division of Chilean society into two camps: those who saw Pinochet as an obstacle to the creation of a new Cuba; and those that remember his human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. In Israel Z.‘ opinion, Pinochet‘s death will have no significant economic consequences, nor will it greatly impact the fight of the victims of Pinochet‘s crimes to seek justice in the courts. And Chilean law will continue to link itself to Pinochet‘s legacy. Yet, the death of the dictator will play a role in the intensification of internal conflicts in Chile‘s coalition government, now that the enemy, and uniting element of Chilean democracy is gone.
Ricardo Angoso explains how, before Chavez came to power, Venezuela suffered decades of a corrupt and immoral political class, responsible for various coups d’etat, social instability, and severe periods of economic crisis provoked by the poor management of wealth and the irresponsible investment of oil earnings. In Angoso‘s opinion, when Chavez came to power, Venezuelan politics took a turn for the better: focusing not on corruption, but on fighting poverty, reforming the state, and dealing with society’s ills. By searching for modernization and social and economic prosperity, Hugo Chavez Frias has made himself the indisputable leader of Venezuela, and a far worthier choice than the untrustworthy and corrupt opposition.
Ricardo Israel Z. writes a series of recommendations, for the Rosales-led Venezuelan opposition, to avoid marginalization and win the elections of 2013. In Israel Z.‘ opinion, the opposition must create a unified platform that would be attractive to the less fortunate in Venezuela, must expose the problems of Chavez‘ administration to the population, organize itself nationally and internationally behind a united movement or party, and promote the integration of Venezuela into Latin America without interfering in the internal politics of other countries.
Ciro Di Costanzo explains how the Mexican people have rejected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador‘s proclamation that he is the legitimate president. In Costanzo‘s opinion, if the PRD continues to support itself on Obrador‘s strategy, the party will end up fragmented and weakened, and will hurt the image of a responsible and viable left that took years to construct. In supporting AMLO‘s protest, the PRD needs to question whether its goal is the best interest of the people, or the satisfaction of a frustrated leader.
Maximiliano Borches describes the steps that the new President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will put into motion: including a national referendum for the creation of a Constituent Assembly, an across the board refusal of the Free Trade Treaty of the Americas, and the reopening of negotiations with oil companies; all the while maintaining the dollar as the national money and continuing to subsidize private Ecuadorian companies. In Borches‘ opinion, Rafael Correa‘s victory will strengthen Hugo Chavez in the region, but will also consolidate the growing power of the leftist block in Latin America.
Pedro G. Cavallero describes how despite an erratic and contradictory foreign policy, the administration of Nestor Kirchner in Argentina may have finally found the right path. In Cavallero‘s opinion, in supporting Venezuela‘s candidacy to the UN Security Council, Argentina was also supporting Venezuela‘s ally, Iran, believed to be responsible for the double bombings in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. Yet, the recent court decision to issue international arrest warrants for those Iranians responsible for the attacks signifies that finally Argentina has chosen to take on the burden of justice.
Ricardo Angoso explains why Hugo Chavez is ahead in the polls and why he will continue to be the President of Venezuela, despite the rise of the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Yet, given Chavez‘ imminent victory, the fact that the opposition party has been able to stage such a rapid comeback is important evidence of the growing discontent in Venezuela of Chavez‘ administration. Because the economy continues to be a disaster throughout the country (despite the rise in the price of oil), poverty remains endemic and insecurity and unemployment are growing, even Chavez‘ most loyal supporters begin to doubt the past eight years of unfulfilled revolutionary promises.
Mauro Soares discusses Lula‘s unwillingness to change the conservative economic policies that have hurt, rather than helped, the annual growth of Brazil‘s economy. Despite campaign strategies to distance his administration from the negative legacy of ex-President Cardoso, in upholding these policies, Lula is in fact continuing Cardoso‘s heritage. In Soares‘ opinion, the real debate in Brazil, concerning specific economic policies, has been pushed aside in favor of political rhetoric and electioneering.