Updated 4 months, 1 week ago

Latam’s right turn will trigger social conflicts

The recent turn to the right in Latin American politics will trigger serious social conflicts and marginalize large sectors of the population, the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Argentina’s Adolfo Perez Esquivel, told EFE.

The human rights activist, who is taking part in various social forums in Paraguay this week, said in an interview that Latin America was currently “backtracking on social policies while affirming neoliberalism (dogmatic free-market policies).”

He said the return of neoliberalism and the current crisis of representative democracy were the result of “veiled coups” in recent years, referring to the removal of office via congressional proceedings of three leftist heads of states: Dilma Rousseff in Brazil this year, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo in 2012 and Honduras’ Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

“They have no legitimacy. They’re veiled coups, which now don’t require the armed forces” but the complicity of politicians, the private sector and the judiciary, according to Perez Esquivel, who said an attempted legislative coup could be in the works against Venezuela’s leftist head of state, Nicolas Maduro.

He said those strategies were launched to punish governments who “left the orbit of the United States’ hegemonic power and now were generating a lack of unity among countries that once had come together in regional organizations such as Unasur or Mercosur to defend their common interests.

“In 2005, we said ‘no to the FTAA’ (the U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas) because we wanted to maintain our sovereignty, independence and decision-making about our goods and resources,” said the activist, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for founding non-violent human rights organizations to combat Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime.

“Now the United States dominates the trade landscape, and governments like (President Mauricio) Macri’s in Argentina fall in line with its policy. They’re thinking about trans-oceanic accords with the European Union. It’s a recolonization,” Perez Esquivel said.

Referring to the United States, he said very little would change with real-estate mogul Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

“Trump interpreted the dissatisfaction of many social sectors, but you have to understand that in the United States it’s not the president who governs but rather the large corporations and the military-industrial complex, and Trump will do what they tell him to do,” Perez Esquivel said.