Dissecting Utopia

The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn, edited by Patrick Barrett, Daniel Chavez and Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito. Published by Pluto Press (2008), 320 pages.

The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn, edited by Patrick Barrett, Daniel Chavez and Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito

The New Latin American Left the authors explain that so far, most analysts looking at the region have focused exclusively on “partisan politics” or “grassroots mobilization.” Yet in this book, the country and regional case studies examine the political parties, governments and social movements as three separate forces in the new Latin American left. 

The New Latin American Left illustrates, such collaborations between the street and the state often turn out to be rockier than planned.


Arial”>Brazil, Lula and the Landless Movement

yes”> In some places this support goes to nearly half of the families in a town or city.


Arial”>Power and the Grassroots in Venezuela and Argentina

normal”>The New Latin American Left on Venezuela, strikes an interesting balance when assessing the hopes and challenges in this country. Lander discusses the abundance of new neighborhood groups, communal councils, Bolivarian circles and electoral battle units have been developed by the government in collaboration with social sectors. The relationship between the communities participating in these programs and the state has varied in intensity and autonomy over the years and involves a broad range of experiences. On the other hand, Lander writes that many of the widely applauded social and political programs of the government “are heavily dependent on oil revenues, to the point that a significant decrease in the latter could endanger their continuity.”

normal”>piquetero movement in order to demobilize them. Kirchner did not repress the movements, knowing that doing so would generate an enormous backlash as it did with the two deaths of piqueteros under former President Eduardo Duhalde. “Faced with this prospect, he has preferred a strategy of wearing out the resistance,” Schuster writes. Due to their relative lack of structure and unity, the movements proved to be unsustainable in this context.

normal”>piquetero movement, which has ended up exacerbating its weakness – namely, dispersal.”

The New Latin American Left, the editors explain that the book is not a conclusive work; many of these movements and governments that the authors focus on have still only recently come to power, so it’s hard to make “definitive evaluations.” Yet in dissecting the recent history of the new Latin American left, the book sheds light on immediate challenges posed by the relationships between social movements, political parties and governments elsewhere in the region, from Lima to Tegucigalpa.


font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press). He is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events, and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website covering activism and politics in Latin America. Contact: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com


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