Mercosur is living its final moments. The trademark may be recovered at some point, but the rupture of the former tariff union is a fact. Uruguay is going to sign a free trade agreement with China outside the founding agreement and the institution cannot follow it: one of the members, Paraguay, still recognizes the government of Taiwan as the only legitimate representative of China as a whole. The end of the bloc that never was tells us a lot about the nature of South American national capitals and states and what the future of the region will look like.
South America and the Caribbean
Britain is militarizing the Falklands/Malvinas at full speed. Argentina is building its largest military base in Ushuaia and its senate is preparing to create a new crime of opinion: doubting or belittling Argentina’s claims to sovereignty over the islands. And in case the increase in tension was not enough, Chile is unilaterally extending its southern borders, calling into question the already tense balance in the control of the Mar de Hoces/Drake Passage that separates South America from Antarctica. Why are this dance of positions and this apparently gratuitous increase in tension as well as the most crass nationalism happening right now?
The news are warning about the alleged imminence of a self-coup d’état in Brazil. The reality is even more complex and dangerous. The rift within the Brazilian ruling class is reaching a critical point where even a breakup of the army into rival factions cannot be ruled out.
Thirty years of Mercosur… and maybe this is the last one. After months of tensions whipped up by the radicalization of agro-exporting interests in the face of the crisis and pandemic conditions, the Brazil-Uruguay-Paraguay axis no longer speaks of flexibilizing, but directly of ignoring the treaties. The end of Mercosur is a fact… for the time being, since the continent is not governed by blocs of countries with stable strategies, but is struggling between two transnational currents that fracture each national capital. The synchrony and parallelism provide a background of reality to the old project of the “Patria Grande”, but also expose its utopian and reactionary character.
News of an outbreak of protests in Cuba leapt through agencies to media outlets around the world yesterday. Beginning in San Antonio de los Baños, protests spread in a matter of hours from the West to the East of the country and ended up surrounding the Capitol in Havana. The regime’s response was swift: exculpatory speeches, calls for civil confrontation and door-to-door repression all night long.
After 12 days and having already suffered 47 deaths, 39 of which as a result of repression, protests in Colombia are entering a new phase.
The green transition is already paving the way for new wars. Current mineral production plus that in the pipeline is incapable of supplying the raw material demand of the energy transition. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2030 the production capacity calculated by then will only be able to supply 80% of the critical minerals and 50% of the copper demanded by the Green Deal. By 2040, the strain will be even worse: the demand for critical minerals will have quadrupled. What will large national capitals do along the way to secure the sources needed to supply their most valuable industries?
The situation in Argentina in recent years has become a laundry list of union and left-wing resorts to divert and prevent the extension of struggles. We saw a first large-scale example in 2019 in Chubut. Then the convergence of struggles in the province around teachers and health workers was neutralized with national union strike calls cutting across the movement. Now in Neuquén we are seeing an alternative -yet no less damaging- strategy. We workers in Argentina and the rest of the world have much to learn from the experience in order to be able to effectively confront the unions and find our own terrain of struggle.
Raúl Castro has announced his upcoming retirement at the age of 89, 62 years after the M26J guerrillas entered Havana and 60 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed Cuba’s entry into the Russian bloc. The retirement of the last active commander of Sierra Maestra from the political leadership of the Cuban ruling class occurs in the midst of the latest acceleration of the agonizing and perennial crisis of a national capital in ruins.
The Argentinean disaster consists of a ruling class leading us towards health care collapse by prioritizing an unviable national capital which condemns workers to poverty and is oriented towards an increasingly difficult imperialist game which makes the development of militarism inevitable.
The visit by Spain’s foreign minister to Venezuelan refugee camps in Cauca has brought Venezuela to the brink of breaking diplomatic relations with Spain. This is not just another scuffle. The strategy of Spain in Venezuela is changing. During the last year, in a way invisible to the front pages of the media, the bases of the imperialist game in South America and the Caribbean have been profoundly altered. This is only one of the first consequences.
South America begins 2021 with very bad prospects for workers.
For the past 20 days the Argentinean ports of the agro-export sector are paralyzed and with them the exports that sustain all the accumulation in a semicolonial country like Argentina. The reason: a strike by oil and ginning workers who do not accept that the drop in their real wages imposed by inflation be compensated by the companies by less than 70%.
A new offensive against the living conditions of Cuban workers begins. On the horizon, even famine.
Argentine capital is in an impossible trap: its imperialist game depends on three-way carom with major powers; its capacity to recover profitability depends on a plan that Fernández has not dared to define yet and that can only aggravate what he already has set in motion: drastically worsening the general conditions of exploitation and pensions; and increasing profitability by lowering further the real wages. The real decision-maker of the future is therefore the working class.
The institutional crisis in Peru has reached a critical level. What is behind it? What does the maremagnum of acronyms, names and accusations of corruption mean?
Historical perspective in order to understand Bolivia. Because it is impossible to understand the failure of the Áñez government, the return of Masism and the differences of the period that begins with Arce without studying how the Bolivian class structure has evolved during the last ninety years, what the historical aspirations of the main factions of power have been and how they have expressed themselves politically.
Argentina is in a new pandemic peak. The schools cannot fulfill the only thing that upheld them as a valuable institution for the state: to be a useful feeding ground and nursery for students on the way to nationalist indoctrination. Teachers are left in a bad situation, forced to choose between those students who resist this bad training and a state that sits idly by in the face of the most urgent needs, supported by the unions that keep the teachers enternained.
Today, China accounts for 85% of Argentina’s meat exports, 63% of the total foreign currency coming in from foreign trade and 45% of the Central Bank’s reserves.
The United States tightens its grip again and tries to revive Guaidó. The EU, on the other hand, is betting on Capriles and will help him run in the elections organized by Maduro for December. The reality is the collapse of national capital and the hunger of the workers. With the national bourgeoisie divided into three blocks, each with its international allies, what now awaits the workers in Venezuela?
Mexico and Brazil are distressed by a crisis that fuses the impending health disaster with a paralysis of export markets and political chaos. The situation is extremely dangerous for workers throughout America. Only the generalization of the struggles can impose the priority of saving lives instead of investments, stopping the spread effectively and guaranteeing the satisfaction of basic needs for all workers.