Thanks in large part to pressure by the United States and its allies, the list of Middle American countries that have undergone failed experiments with alternatives to mainstream capitalist development reads like an epitaph to Third World socialism: Guatemala 1945-1954 under Juan Jose Arevalo and Jacobo Arbenz, Guyana 1961-64 under Cheddi Jagan, Jamaica 1972-1980 under Michael Manley, Grenada 1979-83 under Maurice Bishop, and Nicaragua 1979-90 under Daniel Ortega. Enemies from within and without (mainly the United States) worked to capitalize on any of the inevitable errors in leadership and to sabotage these experiments before their developmental capabilities could be ascertained. (Klak 1999, p105)
In part, this turn around is due to the difficulty of building socialism within a capitalist world economy, as well as a sense of weariness in the struggle to find social justice within struggling economies. This can be further seen in the case of Nicaragua: -
By 1990 Nicaragua's war-weary voters rejected the Sandinistas in favor of the United States' preferred candidate, Violeta Chamorro. On her watch the country reversed policy direction and began what William Robinson characterized as 'a close U.S. tutelage in the process of reinsertion into the global system.' Nicaragua's USAID program leapt to become the world's largest, and included funds to replace Sandinista textbooks . . . By the late 1990s, more than half of all Nicaraguan workers were unemployed or underemployed. And the US$500 million dollars worth of international aid keeping the Nicaraguan economy afloat has made current conservative-populist President Arnoldo Alemán highly subordinate to the wishes of core capitalist countries. Despite Nicaragua's 'economic straitjacket,' however, it has managed to retain some meaningful vestiges of the Sandinista period. These include vibrant grass-roots activism, politically-astute citizens, gender equality laws, and autonomy laws protecting its culturally distinct Atlantic Coast people. (Klak 1999, p113)
However, at a more general level, Marxist, socialist (see Lemoine 1998) and popularist traditions (see lecture 6) have left a strong sense of social claims and popular mobilisation that Latin American governments cannot ignore, e.g. in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Governments will need to meet some of these aspirations, or at least draw these mobilised groups into dialogue, if they wish to avoid future political and social crises.
5) Likewise, military regimes and dictatorial states have become discredited as long-term solutions to problems in the hemisphere. This means that more moderate forces can be mobilised towards patterns of productive activity or practical compromise, e.g. politics in Chile, or the pragmatic approach taken by strong labour movements in Brazil and Argentina (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p414). Most militaries in the region wish to position themselves in a more professional role, while still at some level wishing to guarantee the survival and stability of their home states. Although the 'shadow effect' of the military on politics and strong security agendas in the region (see week 9), there has been a popular dis-investment in authoritarian solutions to political and social problems.
6) Religion has also been mobilised as a social and sometimes progressive force in many countries if Latin America, though this remains controversial. Thus the Catholic Church has been involved in land reform and monitoring