NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN LATIN AMERICA-Andrew Stelzer

03/20/06

The University of South Florida is holding a two-day seminar Today and Tomorrow, on the topic of “The New Social Movements and Democracy in the Americas.� WMNFs Andrew Stelzer was at this mornings session, regarding social movements, Globalization and Democratization in Latin America, and filed this report.

Dr Harry Vanden, USF professor of Governmental and International Affairs, said there have been popular insurrections all over the world, but Latin America has a unique history of exclusion and elitist rule, with a few exceptions. As for the modern social movements being discussed such as the landless movement in Brazil, the Zapatistas in Mexico, the cocaleros in Bolivia, the National Indigenous Federation of Ecuador, there are historical roots going back more than 40 years.

ACT-Vanden “there are these antecedents, in the 60s we se the beginning of mass mobilizations, Brazil, Central America..it was less Sandinistas than the mass of the people..the people went into the streets constructed barricades and overwhelmed dictatorship…Elsalvador, there were beginning of mass movements trying to take back power.., and in new Sandinista space�

Dr Henry VeltMayer from the Universidad Autonoma De Zacatecas in Mexico said there are 3 basic paths to social change

ACT-Veltmayer “one we refer to as democracy, electoral or partlimentary road,--Evo. The second way is path of mass mobilization or action which was the revolutionary road, taken y Cuba in the late 50s, and most notably the FARC in Columbia—the only one left from the 60s and 70s. the 3d form relates to the no power approach, make social change without achieving state power, since the old politics and as I said before the formula this option was available and it was expressed. This 3rd form is to bring change without taking power, to make improvements using local spaces without confronting the power. “

During the rule of Latin Americas Military dictators throughout the 1970’s there was a massive crackdown on traditional methods of democracy, like political parties. In reaction, the people developed other ways to organize, often in secret, in soup kitchens or other non-suspect places.

Veltmayer said that social movements in the 1980s were often led by urban intellectuals, who were working on behalf of the peasants, where as today, they are often led by the poor or indigenous people themselves. The case of the recent Election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia is the first intersection of two of these techniques.

ACT-Velt “in Bolivia the popular movement is a combination helped bring him into power, without the mobilization he would not have been able to use the party system mechanism..�

ACT-Velt “the strategy seems to be successful in bringing the cocaleros to power, as to the ability of the state power to bring about change its too early to say,…chances are it means playing a game the rules of which were designed by the political class and never benefit the popular sector, so whether Morales has had to make deals…certainly in 2003 to protect the indigenous he was involved in demobilizing the revolution, the ultimate consequences can he escape electoral politics?�

Dr Gary Prevost, a political science professor at St John’s University, spoke about the history of the so called “anti globalization� movement that gained international prominence in 199 during protests outside the meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Seattle and continued at protests throughout the world. Prevost says the movements’ first major achievement was 003 in Cancun, when Mexican campisinos led the demonstrations outside, but inside the meeting

ACT “by now, the anti globalization movement had friends in higher places, in the corridors of power to begin to challenge some of the most extreme of the neo liberal policies..and under the leadership of Lula and Kirchner a group was crafted within the WTO of major lesser developed countries that produce larger amounts of ag products—china and India joined in and laid down a set of conditions to the US related to gaining access the markets that would be condition and that brought the meeting to a failure form the point of view of US Japan and Europe because they were to prepared to make concessions.�

During the question and answer session, one person asked why there are such powerful visible social movements pushing for democratic change in Latin America, and very few if any in the United States. Dr Jorge Nef the director of the Institute for the study of Latin America and the Caribbean at USF said Americans should be proud of the civil rights, women’s rights and anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, but also must realize that activism is just as strong now as before, just for different political causes.

ACT-Nef “in this country there is not a lack of social movements but they are on the right..we assume they are good guys, it’s the whole thing..�

The Symposium on New Social Movements and Democracy in the Americas continues from 9:30 to 5pm on Tuesday in the grace Allen room at USF.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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