Tue, Jan 28, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Power of protest transforming Latin America

From Colombia to Argentina, an ethical politics driven by protest movements is shaking up the old economic order

By Oscar Guardiola-Rivera  /  The Guardian

Crucially, in most Latin American countries, such dogmatic views were imposed by sheer force, either by the military — as in Chile, Brazil, Argentina or Bolivia — or by the paramilitary, as in Colombia. To most Colombians, it is now clear — a matter of indisputable record — that the paramilitary violence that engulfed the country with peculiar intensity during the last decade and a half, with the leading intervention of the US, was part and parcel of an economic project rather than solely a counterinsurgency exercise.

The current model depends on the unbridled extraction of natural resources from parts of the country that have traditionally sustained peasant, indigenous and Afro-Colombian ways of life, and is the result of such violence.

Consequently, as far as the social movements are concerned, any peace process worthy of its name must also consider serious ethical questions posited by climate change science, food security and others.

According to the information provided by climate science, as well as from anthropology and the humanities, it is no longer possible to keep human history separate from the history of the planet. Human beings have become geological agents, capable of affecting and even destroying nature. People do this through the very processes that they considered to be at the heart of freedom in the 20th century — chief among them being free trade. What people need now is a new politics, not only a politics of freedom, but one of post-human rights and cosmopolitics.

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera is the author of What If Latin America Ruled the World?

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