Important elections in Latin America’s major economies are on the horizon and the future of hundreds of millions of our people hangs in the balance.
Mexico, currently governed by the bourgeois-nationalist Institutional Revolutionary Party, has a chance for change on the horizon. From a communist perspective, the popular progressive presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador for the National Regeneration Movement, Morena, is unlikely to bring about any substantial changes in the elections that take place on July 1. Instead, like other social democratic projects already witnessed across the region, Obrador may bring about some relief of pressure through short-term reforms in education, healthcare and other public services. A welcome change for a country that has suffered terrible socioeconomic violence at the hands of its historical elites. Polls have had him leading for months, but mainstream candidates and parties are quickly closing the gap. In 2012, when Obrador ran for the presidency against Enrique Peña Nieto, widespread irregularities at the polling stations were reported, but the leftist candidate failed to demand a proper recount.
Similarly, Colombia’s leftist candidate, Gustavo Petro, an ex-guerrilla fighter, has taken the country by storm, winning the support of what seems like millions of constituents across the country. Although he would definitely be the candidate most likely to bring about some change — again, social-democratic reforms rather than revolutionary change — it remains to be seen if the historic elites will even allow him to take reign over the country in the elections taking place later this month. He’s already been shot and a right-wing Cuban mercenary arrested a few weeks ago admitted to being in charge of a plot to kill him. This is the first time since Jorge Eliécer Gaitán that a candidate outside of the historical political elite has had a real chance of taking power.
Venezuela’s socialist government faces elections on May 20. Comrade Nicolás Maduro is likely to be re-elected, although perhaps by a slim margin due to the white, right-wing elites’ economic war that has ravaged the country for years. The ruling party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, continues to enjoy huge support from a large portion of the population despite the constant savage attacks launched against them. Those on the fence are unlikely to vote for the right as they are, in general, not seen as a viable alternative. What is worrisome is not necessarily the results, but the aftermath. The likely socialist victory could spark further aggression by both the local white elites as well as their masters in the United States and Europe. Fortunately, we have seen that Venezuela’s socialist and progressive forces have been able, albeit with serious difficulties, to overcome the sabotages put in place by local and foreign enemies.
In October, we will see whether Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, currently imprisoned on bogus corruption charges, can overcome the war against him and the Brazilian left. Despite his imprisonment and mainstream media in the country waging a war against him, he is still the people’s favorite, leading in the polls for quite some time. Although much more inclined to the center-left and less radical when compared to Venezuela’s Maduro and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff began a historic reform process that has given revolutionary forces room to breath and organize. All of this progress is steadily being undone by unelected President Michel Temer.
As communists, we are well aware that all of these social democratic processes can only be useful in the short term. The long-term solution lies in a more radical socialist process in which the powerful elites are crushed — through exiling them or destroying them by any means. Nationalizing the means of production — that is, taking complete control of the economic forces of these countries — is the surest way of taking the power that these historical elites have had in the region for at least 200 years.
We should continue to offer critical support to this popular wave of progressive and center-left candidates (Obrador, Petro, Lula) without losing sight of the true solution to Latin America and the Caribbean’s neo-colonial status: a dictatorship of the workers and the historically downtrodden.