The historic victory of Pedro Castillo as president-elect of Peru strengthens in geopolitical terms the wing of progressive and left-wing governments and the actions of regional integration of a sovereign and supportive nature in the region.
Beyond the virulent counter-attack that the national and international oligarchy will unleash to block this new emancipatory attempt, the triumph of the relegated people puts a chill on the right-wing restorationist trump card that the election of the banker Lasso in Ecuador represented.
While this is happening on the institutional surface, popular mobilisation continues to grow in an unstoppable unfolding despite the pandemic context, reaching the main countries defending the model of uncompromising accumulation ordered by capital.
The heroic resistance of the Colombian strike against a criminal government, the resounding victory of the Chilean awakening in the constituent elections, the avalanche of votes for a little less than unknown rural teacher in Peru and the great march underway to defend the will expressed at the ballot box, the mobilisation in more than 170 Brazilian cities loudly demanding the end of a military government barely covered by a clownish façade, the triumphant return of the peasant-indigenous social movements to government in Bolivia, even – despite its electoral definition from a regional geopolitical point of view – the relevant role of the indigenous uprising in Ecuador, are all phenomena that are part of this massive rebellion that makes the hearts of the heartless defenders of the status quo tremble.
What does the picture mean? Do the institutional trend and the politics of the streets fit into the same equation? What are the intersections, what are the dissonances? What can be discerned ahead?
The circumstantial pulls back the curtain on the structural.
The rapid, repeated and deadly expansion of Sars-CoV-2 in the region has been a very painful dagger in a social and health fabric disarticulated by neoliberalism and only partially recomposed by the progressive governments of the decade that was won. A decade in which there was no such cushioning, but rather a deepening of the model where the right wing administered barbarism, as in Colombia, Peru and Chile.
To the pre-existing misery and globalised precariousness were added millions of Latin American families without any social containment, with no other present than that of sharing soup kitchens, with no other future than the hardship of surviving from day to day by means of undignified and random jobs.
At the same time, speculative banking and controlled multinational corporations, particularly those in the digital and advanced technology sectors, increased their profits astronomically.
It was not outrage at these structural contradictions, but the reaction to measures derived from them, that triggered the mass street rebellion. The conjunctural aggravation of neo-liberal policy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But the abuse revealed the use and the spark ignited the powder keg, calling for fundamental transformations.
The generational component
Particularly affected by this panorama of inequality and lack of future are the nearly 160 million young people who inhabit the region. In the context of a systemic crisis of formal employment, a tide of young people is flooding the streets with precarious jobs in order to earn a living.
Beyond this basic existential threat, the under-30s – all born in the era of globalised capitalism – feel the acute contradiction of perceiving the world at their fingertips and, at the same time, of being cloistered in oppressive situations and unable to escape anywhere. They do not believe in the traditional “reasonable” outlets offered to them by an increasingly irrational adult world and are looking for alternatives, on a small and large scale.
Young people are also the preferred victims of discrimination and institutional violence. It is enough to be young to be a suspect, a fact that is aggravated and deadly dangerous if you have dark skin and live in a peripheral neighbourhood. So it comes as no surprise that they are the ones who are at the forefront of the great rebellion, confronting the only thing the decadent system has to offer them, savage and brutal repression.
The anti-patriarchal uprising
In this time of general mobilisation, the actions of women, particularly the youngest, are very relevant. And no wonder. In all segments of social life, they continue to be – albeit for a little longer – the most neglected, discriminated against and violated.
The lacerating marks of the imposition of the creed of a colonial church still persist in Latin America; the objectification of women as mere reproducers and their exploitation as producers of care still persist; archaic and multiple forms of violence such as the criminalisation of abortion, feminicide, child and adolescent pregnancy, among many others, still persist.
However, in the general exhaustion of the system, in its lack of responses, women have also found a crack to take up the anti-patriarchal struggle in a definitive way. The progressive and at the same time rapid conquest of spaces marks a historical line of no return: revolutions will be feminist, egalitarian, without any trace of gender discrimination, or they will not be.
The systemic crisis
Through the advance of telecommunications, humanity has become a single planetary civilisation. The “global village”, in the words of Canadian sociologist Marshall Mc Luhan, is now a palpable reality. In a fully connected system, small variations can cause major changes, as suggested by the meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who alluded to the distant effects of the “flight of a butterfly” in his explanations of the chaotic behaviour of unstable systems.
For his part, the Argentinean humanist Silo (literary pseudonym of Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos), notes in his Letters to my friends: “in a closed system one cannot expect anything other than the mechanics of general disorder. The paradox of the system informs us that in attempting to order the growing disorder, disorder will be accelerated. There is no other way out than to revolutionise the system, opening it up to the diversity of human needs and aspirations”.
Thus the world begins to be understood as a whole. The peoples are seeking to produce their own local demonstration effects based on their urgent needs, but with the intuition that the impact obtained will go further, positively influencing the general historical evolution.
The current Latin American rebellions, related to those in other parts of the world, are part of this search for new and multiple models for humanity as a whole.
Beneath the contingent social orography emerges a powerful cultural substratum that seeks to express itself. Ancient myths, which have time and again animated the struggle against collective humiliation, are today stoking the inner fires of peoples.
Even under the avatar of a mestizo demography and corseted in Eurocentric matrices, historical memory struggles to displace five hundred years of colonial rule, two hundred years of imported and exclusionary republicanism and more than a century of supremacist imperialism.
The Indo-American and Afro-descendant roots that greed and cruelty tried to bury, today sprout with indomitable energy demanding justice denied, freedom, recognition, reparation and effective self-determination to choose their own destiny. Above all, it demands the necessary space to take its place in the global multicultural interweaving that is already beginning to take shape.
In the current rebellion, the violent foundations of fictitious borders and imposed statuses are being removed to make way for a new intercultural dialogue towards the dream of a future universal human nation.
The end of uncertainty
It is now possible to leave behind the time of uncertainty. The future, albeit in its most elementary outlines, is already revealing some of its most prominent contours. The firm establishment of new founding values is beginning to take place in the consciousness of broad sectors of society.
Participatory democracy to replace flawed representativeness, gender parity, the need for a universal basic income to guarantee existence together with a new and fair redistribution of the social product, plurinationality instead of supremacism and racism, care for the common home instead of the absurdity of excessive consumerism, freedom of choice and diversity instead of rigid monolithism, decentralisation and the dissolution of monopolies are all part of this new common sense.
The use of science and technology for the exclusive benefit of all humanity without restriction, nuclear disarmament, unrestricted respect for human rights, respect for the self-determination of peoples, solidarity and cooperation as a guiding principle of relations between nations, the repudiation of violence and discrimination as a maxim of life, are some of the main components of this new humanist moral contract in the making.
A contract that will set the species on a new cycle of evolutionary growth.
Adjusting transformative action to this ongoing sensibility is the task.
Credits: International Press Agency Pressenza.
Author: Javier Tolcachier – Researcher at Centro de Estudios Humanistas in Cordoba, Argentina.
Cover photo: Facebook Page Perú Libre – Pedro Castillo