Biden in the Face of a Latin-Caribbean Uprising

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on November 26, 2020

The detonator of the recent social explosion in Guatemala was the energetic popular rejection of the largest budget in its history, more than 12 billion dollars approved in an opaque, illegal way and increasing foreign debt. Despite its increase of more than 2 billion dollars with respect to 2019, it reduced the already miserable social investment in education, health, infant protection and, in general, in the fight against poverty. In a situation of pandemic, serious economic crisis and increase of shortages, on an already existing 70 percent living in poverty and extreme poverty, a budget ostensibly larger than that of the previous year is offensive, but it reduced even more the meager funds dedicated to social needs. The aid promised by the Guatemalan government of Alejandro Giammattei to the families most affected by the coronavirus has arrived incomplete, or not delivered at all.

If, on top of that, the budget is elaborated based on deceit and is approved almost clandestinely, without consulting the population and ends up repressing the non-conformists, it is explainable that popular anger explodes and, that some people set fire to the National Congress, one of the symbols of the mega-corruption that has afflicted Guatemala for decades. These protests continue, but now with more awareness and higher participation of indigenous people, workers and students than in 2015, which culminated in the imprisonment of then President Otto Pérez Molina, who was investigated by the prosecutor’s office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a body created by the UN with the approval of the United States, which saw the possibility of taking the general as a scapegoat, while saving his allies from the big economic groups and entertaining the population with this farce to continue the perverse application of neo-liberal policies.

These policies have led to Giammattei’s great corruption, which cannot be explained without deepening his vigorous rooting in the gross interference of the United States in Guatemala. Since the CIA coup d’état (1954), which overthrew President Árbenz, the country has been governed by an alliance of the US embassy, the business chambers and the far-right military, whose business with narcotics, contraband and other criminal activities has been supported by the armed forces before and after the peace accords with the guerrillas in 1996. The coup led to the Mayan genocide, with 200,000 dead and disappeared, including opponents and support bases of the guerrillas.

The genocide ended, but not the impunity of its perpetrators, nor the massacres of indigenous people or the repression. The peace accords opened a certain political space for elections, but hardly touched the secular structure of imperialist-oligarchic domination. The height of cynicism is that Giammattei has invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter (OAS), conceived for a situation of a coup d’état and asked the super coup leader Almagro to come to his aid, which has provoked great popular indignation.

Tinted by the characteristics of each country, it is evident that neoliberal policies have driven corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean, as in the world, by stimulating the prevalence of individualism, consumerism, inequality, unemployment and, in general, the subordination of the public to the private.

There is evidence that growing sectors of the people of our America have become aware of these realities and their causes and are tired of suffering them. The popular Haitian and Ecuadorian rebellions of 2019 and 2020, followed by the massive and combative Chilean popular uprising, which is drawing strength from weakness and surprising us in the struggle and defying repression despite the pandemic; the sequence of popular protests in Colombia, which have already been going on for a year despite the murders and massacres, and the recent defeat of the coup d’état in Peru, which in some places more and others less, are calling for a Constituent Assembly and a new Constitution, makes it very clear that our peoples are gaining political maturity and are relaunching the progressive offensive initiated and promoted by Hugo Chávez in 1999.

The rapid defeat of the coup and the military dictatorship in Bolivia by its peoples led by Evo Morales and MAS and the clamorous election of the Arce-Choquehuanca duo, which has greatly refreshed the revolutionary and democratic atmosphere in the region, marks an extraordinary milestone in this historical trend. The electoral defeat of Trump benefits this process because it weakens more the ultra-right-wing governments of Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and not to mention Brazil. Biden left his job when the retreat of the popular forces in various countries was accentuated and it would be very wise if he sought dialogue with a rebellious America of ours that would tend to unite and present a common, truly democratic front to its northern neighbor. We are waiting for the victory of Chavismo on December 6 in Venezuela, which will shake the roots of the Andes.

Source: La Jornada, translation, Reumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau