By Contributor on March 12, 2014

By Carmelo Ruiz-MarreroA progressive wave has been sweeping Latin America for over a decade, but right-wing forces in some countries have been refusing to accept the results at the voting booth. All over the region, the left has come to power through elections, as voters have repudiated neoliberal policies and free trade ideology. In Brazil, now one of the world’s top 10 economies, the leftist Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) has won the last three presidential elections and will likely win the next. In Uruguay, the progressive Frente Amplio has won the last two presidential elections. The country’s current president, the former guerrilla Pepe Mujica, is one of the world’s most popular heads of state. In Bolivia, the people elected Evo Morales, of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), to the presidency in 2006, where he has served two terms. Morales, a campesino organizer, is the first indigenous head of state in modern Latin American history. In Ecuador, the left-leaning Alianza PAIS party’s candidate, Rafael Correa, was elected president in 2006, and he has served three terms. Under his government, a constituent assembly wrote a new constitution, one of the most progressive in the world, which was approved in a national referendum. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, who were so reviled by President Reagan, were voted back into power in 2006 and 2011, with former rebel leader Daniel Ortega as president. In El Salvador, the FMLN, once the main guerrilla group, won the presidential elections in 2009 and again just a few days ago. But some right-wingers in Latin America have not been accepting the will of the people. There have been coups against democratically elected progressive Latin American governments in recent years. Some were foiled — in Venezuela and Ecuador. And some succeeded — in Honduras and Paraguay. Today, in Venezuela, the right-wing opposition is fomenting protests to destabilize the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party. Opposition leaders are even refusing to meet with Maduro to try to end the civil strife there. Meanwhile, Washington has been funding some Venezuelan opposition groups. To many people in Latin America, what’s happening in Venezuela is all too reminiscent of what happened in Chile four decades ago. Back then, the CIA was plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende. The agency had funded the opposition and the violent street protests in Chile and had a hand in the 1973 coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. We seem to be seeing the same script being played over again in Venezuela. And in El Salvador, the far-right ARENA party, long associated with murderous death squads, has threatened violence rather than accept defeat in the recent tight presidential election there. If left-wing groups were opposing these democratic victories, Washington would be up in arms. But when right-wing groups destabilize democracy, too often Washington turns a blind eye — or, even worse, assists them. This pattern has got to change, or the United States will continue to lose favor throughout Latin America. Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, journalist and environmental educator. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org. Copyright Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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