Bird’s Eye: Some good news. In South America, politicians have been running and getting re-elected, by making real change in the lives of ordinary people. It’s an inspiration to the rest of the world, and perhaps the only continent where the focus of the politicians is on people more than profits. (Note how when Time magazine looks at South America, their focus narrows to drugs, and avoids any hint of a wider political picture.)
* Chavez and the New South America Counterpunch
Hugo Chávez was re-elected president of Venezuela on Sunday, by a margin of 11 percentage points. …Since the Chávez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrolment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time, and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.
So it is not surprising that most Venezuelans would re-elect a president who has improved their living standards. That’s what has happened with all of the left governments that now govern most of South America: they have been re-elected. This is despite the fact that they, like Chávez, have most of their countries’ media against them, and their opposition also has most of the wealth and income of their respective countries.
The list includes Rafael Correa, re-elected President of Ecuador by a wide margin in 2009; the enormously popular Lula da Silva of Brazil, re-elected in 2006, and successfully campaigned for his former Chief of Staff, now President Dilma Rousseff, in 2010; Evo Morales, Bolvia’s first indigenous president in a majority indigenous country, re-elected in 2009; José Mujica succeeded his predecessor from the same political alliance in Uruguay – the Frente Amplio — in 2009; Cristina Fernández succeeded her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, winning the 2011 Argentine presidential election by a solid margin – also with the largest media against her.
All of these left presidents and their political parties won re-election because, like Chávez, they brought significant, and in some cases huge, improvements in living standards.
* Chavez wins again! Purple Library Guy Peace, order and good government, eh?
Hugo Chavez has once again done one of the things he does best: Win. Once again, we have a deeply progressive president of Venezuela. In your face, neoliberal rich dudes!
I was pretty sure when I saw the polls over the last couple of months. But I was damn sure when I saw pictures of the three million people who rallied in Caracas on Thursday. In the pouring rain. Three. Million. People.
Even the French and Italians don’t rack up numbers like that for political events. Here in Canada we could have feverish dreams of something like that….I’ll be all sarcastic and cynical and depressed again tomorrow. But right now, I’m enjoying that rare event: The good guys won, the bad guys lost. Woohoo!
While no Latin American nation has legalized drugs yet, several have taken steps to decriminalize narcotics. Argentina introduced a measure in congress this year that would decriminalize the possession of all drugs for personal use. Chile’s congress, meanwhile, is contemplating a bill that would decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana for personal use. And a Colombian court recently upheld a law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of cocaine. Like Mexico, Colombia has also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
But no country has proposed more drastic reform than Uruguay. President José Mujica’s center-left Broad Front party introduced a measure this summer that would not only legalize marijuana consumption, but also place the government at the helm of production and distribution. The bill, which would allow citizens to purchase up to 40 grams of cannabis per month, materialized as the tiny nation of 3.5 million inhabitants scrambles to battle drug-related violence.