Connect with us

Americas

New Constitution in Chile: From a protected transition to an agonic transition

Image: Juan Manuel Núñez Méndez/ Unsplash

Published

on

A constituent process has been installed in Chile. On October 25, 2020, the date of plebiscite, the alternative “Apruebo” (78%) by a new political constitution, and the option of “Constitutional Convention” (79%), obtained the majority over the option of “Rejection” (22%) and over the “Joint Constitutional Convention” option (21%), respectively.

This is the current state of things. But let’s go back a little bit regarding its origins.

In 1988 the Plebiscite took place that said NO to Pinochet, and which then led to the first presidential and parliamentary election after 17 years of dictatorship. Pinochet accepts this plebiscite in large part for fear of a popular rebellion, an issue that was akin to protests that would begin to occur progressively and on massive scale from 1983 to 1986 in Chile,(Délano, 1985; Delgado-Torres et al., 2018; Manzano, 2014, p. 80; Salazar Salvo, 2019) called “the awakening” (Moulian, 2002, p. 261), and for the assassination attempt  on Pinochet (the so-called “Operation TWENTIETH Century”) on September 7, 1986  (Equipo de prensa CHV, 2015; Holzapfel, 2006; Zalaquett, 2011).

And all this popular uprising occurred, even though the media of the time were trying to create distortions in the perception of the veracity of the facts. What is iconic, for example, is the protest that took place in an act broadcast on television about John Paul II’s visit to Chile, where it is possible to contrast the social reality of the events caught at that time on camera, and the fully uchronic journalistic narrative (TVN, 2015) With the Plebiscite of 1988, this would put an end to the right-wing military dictatorship or “pinochetist” dictatorship.

The new regime or new state of affairs would arise from a political negotiation (Departamento de prensa, TVN, 2018; Godoy, 1999; Kaltwasser, 2007)or “antisocial pact” agreed between a sector of political opponents to Pinochet- on tone hand, and Pinochet and the pro-dictatorship political sectors on the other.. Pinochet leaves the political power of the executive, not without first ensuring his own political-judicial immunity for the future, and his economic and political heritage which, and as such, should continue and be projected over time. Proof of the first are the negotiations of the governments of the “Agreement of parties for democracy” to rescue him from trials in England  (Agencia EFE, 2018; Guzmán, 2001; Huneeus, 2018; Portales, 2018)and the one who was never tried on national soil  (Gárate, 2016). Thus, it was said: “We Have an unwritten covenant, but morally subscribed by all political forces, so as not to review the dictatorship”(Baby, 2011). To enable this, from an economic and political model that would have already been installed in dictatorship  (Salazar Vergara & Pinto, 1999)”transition” (a term adopted by Pinochet himself in Chacarillas’ speech in 1977), consisting of a process of administration protected by the continuators, is proposed. In short, Pinochet’s political power would be abandoned, but the political and economic model flanked by the Political Constitution and related laws would not be touched.

Between 1990 and 2000, there is a phase that we could call a protected transition, somewhat in reference to the name that some gave of this period as “protected democracy”  (Huneeus, 1997). Protected by Pinochet and political parties; protecting the model. All the police measures taken in that period, and for the sake of this “protection” were aimed at disarticulating the movements of armed insurgency. Just like the Dictatorship through the DINA and its “turn continuator”, the CNI did so with the self-styled “Revolutionary Left Movement”(MIR), and, in part, with the” Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front” (FPMR),and the police also did so during the transitional governments with the”Lautaro Youth Movement” or  MAPU Lautaro, and any other focus of insurgency that was thus”(Labbé, 2019)

For their part, economic measures were geared towards gaining the maximum economic access to foreign capital. The Chilean economy was opened to the installation of foreign companies of all kinds in Chile, and Chilean companies with large economic conglomerates. It is the time of the Great Stores that trade with all kinds of goods and services, species of “Walmart”, that allowed a constant flow of purchase and sale of goods, of all those destined for consumption, an issue that led to the consideration of Chile by the authors, as a “paradise of consumption”  (Moulian, 2002).

Apart from this, there was a strong export incentive, but where only one sector of entrepreneurs (large scale company) enjoyed the benefits of such activity, of full liberalization of the economy based on an extractive economy whereby transnational corporations made use of domestic labor at low wages compared to the resulting benefits for enterprises-i also with serious environmental damage (Espectador, 2019),foreign contractors selling second-hand or obsolescent goods and services at the price of first-hand goods and services and state-of-the-art technology. As an example of this, we have the purchase by the administration of the government of Ricardo Lagos Escobar of second-hand Spanish trains on the railwa,y that united the capital “Santiago” with the city “Chillán”(Délano, 2008), whose closest effect is the trail of economic damages that it has brought to the company and its workers(Donoso, 2008; Mostrador, 2011; Sánchez, 2008).

A social structure based on the acquisition of material wealth and social ostentation would also have contributed, an irrepressible need of the popular classes to resemble the most affluent classes; there is an aspirationalism or social climbing (Ariztía, 2016; Contardo, 2013). As the most affluent classes were constantly gazing at Europe, and then the U.S. as their image to imitate, this eventually irrigated the entire Chilean social structure. There was no “identity” (with all the issues that have been encountered by the postmodernist academy regarding this term). Chile, fertile province for the ideology and practices of remote nations.

Now, on  one hand was politics based on the logic of political parties, under a system of indirect representation without the possibility of revocation of mandates or citizen trials for poor performance (Salazar, 2011, 2015). On the other hand, the practical attempt to monopolize politics by political parties in Chile and exercise unweighted dominance of it leads us to the phenomenon of the “partidarquía”(Carrasco Jiménez, 2016, 2020).

The Chilean “partidarquía” originated with the first post-Pinochet government, that is, in the government of Patricio Aylwin. The political blocs of Pinochet were clearly recognized, and the pro-dictator block. These blocks would continue with dominance until the first luster of the 21st century, when the student movement of 2001 and Pinochet’s death in 2006 occur, turning points in the historical process of Chile.

Adherents to mass, incendiary, and revolutionary protest socialism of the 1960s and 1970s began to enjoy the economic “goodness” of the model established by the dictatorship and ceased to be (if ever really) critical of economic disadvantages. If their model worked for them, then the gangsterism, arrogance, threats, and corruption of the administration as ways to preserve power in all its manifestations didn’t matter. Instead, they were installed as ways of doing things, all with the aim of extending their prebendas, privileges, and domains. What Pinochet’s partisan block already perversely enjoyed, even before it became a block and simply being Pinochet’s adherents during its regime, the socialists, who were the block opposing it, would also begin to taste its perverse fruits. Therefore, right, or left, it was already the same when it comes to embodying the vices of the political and economic model.

Many exhibited their corrupt and corrupting practices without inhibition, exercising nepotism, the trafficking of influences, the undue pressures, participating in television shows as celebrities, posing as movie or rock stars, and others, notorious for their romances and confessions (Equipo FMDOS, 2016)an exhibitionist egolatry. It should come as no surprise, then, that the world of the show is interspersed with that of partisan politics (Sandoval, 2013). We understood that they were public servants, but figuration, flattery and power made them feel like land gods. Drunk with ego, they did not know what was going on in real Chile, the one of daily life.

The “partidarquía” was also built on political operators who did not belong to the dome but lived off partisan clientelism. His entire social position, his “benefits”, were secured by the party only by his belonging and devotion. Jobs were secured for people without professional instruction, or who, having it, were and are of paradigmatic mediocrity, along with accumulating, a whole “toolbox” of bad practices: deviations from public resources for personal interests  (Bravo, 2019; Mostrador, 2019); obtaining professional qualifications for projects through bribery, threat and extortion  (Arroyo, 2017; Espinoza Riquelme, 2020; Jara Herrera, 2020); the granting, with public funds, of professional services at a cost to friends and family without merit (Cooperativa.cl, 2017; Kelly, 2020; Pizarro & Sepúlveda, 2017). Thus, a working culture was built based on this mediocrity, on the trafficking of influences based on political favor. That is, a corruption of practices, an issue that was permeating every labor organization.

This, in some way, was accompanied by a whole process of deep banalization, a “concertacionist aesthetic” (Oporto Valencia, 2015, p. 254), kind of “soma” as described by Huxley in Brave New World, an opium that was distributed by the political system prevailing “post-pinochetist” and  transitional (1990-2000), whose effect produced some malaise in Chilean culture, and the evasion of the population to the social reality resulting from the model. Many “ingested” this drug, this alcohol, as an anesthetic wayof trying to forget rape and its trauma, not only human rights violations, but also real and concrete violation of the body, one of the political foundations of Pinochet’s dictatorship and of hispolitical heritage. So many others also consumed this “soma” so as not to hear. Pitifully, this led them to insult those who wanted to restart their lives with the necessary justice after the ageing, an issue that the political system threw under the carpet out of fear and cowardice  (Deutsche Welle, 2018; Herceg, 2020) In this way they were “resentful”, there was a boredom to listening to the issue of human rights, and in the most extreme cases, to mention that the unfinished work of the dictatorship lay in not having killed all those who were part of political dissent  (Guzmán, 2001) This type of violence demonstrated, in our view, two things: (1) that the model installed by the dictatorship was more than just a “brick” and a Constitution; it was a structural complex, within which the economic and the political are elements, but that the way to configure them socially and historically, is what defined the model; (2) that the model produced the same effects as in dictatorship, also in “democracy”, so that the people humiliated were still humiliated.

This is how the questions that arose in everyday conversation, on the journey on public transport, in the opinion of the driver, the passengers, at the clothesline, a cashier, in the mass chats, began to gather at the mouth where their waters were slowly growing. And the rumour of them did not stop, and it was timed by the stone on which the political parties had founded their building. This was decanting in a distrust of the “political class” and in a “crisis of representation” (Salazar, 2019).

It is not that the current Constitution, in itself, is “the” source of any possible corruption. Rather, the defect would be the type of relationship between the economic structure implemented in Chile and the established political-legal structure, a political-legal structure whose head, ceiling and support is the current Constitution. The result of the interaction and dynamics of both structures in Chile is a set of social and/or practical relationship modes that are distributed lenticularly throughout the social body. It would have to be the “what are you willing to do to achieve the social objectives that the political-economic framework allows you”, that is, cost. And optimization would indicate, in a society like ours, that media matters more than ends. Therefore, political or class favor, which is but the “sale of the soul to the devil”, implies a means of obtaining social position, riches, and recognition. But if these are conceived only individual means for purposes other than just individual ones, the way of social relations, perhaps they could change. This lack, in my view, is the current social model.

All these critical points are sharpened by bordering a phase that we will call agonic transition. The transition is beginning to dilute, because the political and economic model that was intended to be founded would have already progressed in its maturation sufficiently. The transition was simply the “snake egg” that enabled the process of “maturation” (Oporto Valencia, 2015) of a political and economic model that began to peck the space for its culmination. And this was possible to perceive as social problems became more acute and critical, and as a result, the social bubbling of this culmination begins to burst on the surface, producing an ever-increasing social cracking. In other words, the greater the consolidation of the model, the greater the social cracking, and as a result, the student protests that were to come begin to take place.

Bibliographicreferences

Agencia EFE. (2018, agosto 16). Insulza dice que hoy defendería de nuevo el regreso de Pinochet desde Londres. EFE. https://www.efe.com/efe/america/politica/insulza-dice-que-hoy-defenderia-de-nuevo-el-regreso-pinochet-desde-londres/20000035-3782334

Ariztía, T. (2016). Clases medias y consumo: Tres claves de lectura desde la sociología. Polis (Santiago), 15(43), 435-459. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-65682016000100021

Arroyo, C. (2017, febrero 15). Denuncian que el Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental ha actuado ilegalmente en la tramitación de Dominga. Oceana Chile. https://chile.oceana.org/prensa/comunicados-de-prensa/denuncian-que-el-servicio-de-evaluacion-ambiental-ha-actuado

Baby, S. (2011). ¿Latinoamérica: Un desvío necesario? Baltasar Garzón, de Pinochet a Franco. Amnis. Revue de civilisation contemporaine Europes/Amériques, 2, Article 2. https://doi.org/10.4000/amnis.1485

Bravo, D. A. (2019, agosto 8). Informes desprolijos y 60 millones de pesos en viajes: Así fueron las últimas expediciones al extranjero de los concejales de Pudahuel. El Desconcierto. https://www.eldesconcierto.cl/2019/08/07/informes-desprolijos-y-60-millones-de-pesos-en-viajes-asi-fueron-las-ultimas-expediciones-al-extranjero-de-los-concejales-de-pudahuel/

Carrasco Jiménez, E. (2016, octubre 29). La abstención como un síntoma político. El Mostrador. http://www.elmostrador.cl/noticias/opinion/2016/11/18/la-abstencion-como-un-sintoma/

Carrasco Jiménez, E. (2020). Nueva Constitución en Chile o el desmantelamiento político-jurídico del modelo: A propósito del estallido social 18/O. Tirant lo Blanch. http://digital.casalini.it/9788413367644

Contardo, Ó. (2013). Siútico: Arribismo, abajismo y vida social en Chile. Planeta.

Cooperativa.cl. (2017, septiembre 7). Un tercio de los diputados chilenos pagó por informes plagiados. Cooperativa.cl. https://www.cooperativa.cl/noticias/pais/politica/camara-baja/un-tercio-de-los-diputados-chilenos-pago-por-informes-plagiados/2017-09-07/201039.html

Délano, M. (1985, septiembre 6). Seis muertos dejó la violenta jornada de protesta en Chile. El País. https://elpais.com/diario/1985/09/06/internacional/494805626_850215.html

Délano, M. (2008, diciembre 16). Chile pedirá explicaciones a España por la venta de trenes usados de Renfe. El País. https://elpais.com/internacional/2008/12/17/actualidad/1229468403_850215.html

Delgado-Torres, F., Maugard-Bravo, M., Delgado-Torres, F., & Maugard-Bravo, M. (2018). Movilización y organización popular en dictadura: Las jornadas de protesta nacional en Arica (1980-1986). Izquierdas, 39, 34-56. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-50492018000200034

Departamento de prensa, TVN. (2018, octubre 3). El Pacto con Pinochet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Deqtd0ep1Lo

Deutsche Welle. (2018, septiembre 11). Chile: “De la tortura no se habla“ | DW | 11.09.2018. DW.COM. https://www.dw.com/es/chile-de-la-tortura-no-se-habla/a-45435223

Donoso, M. (2008, agosto 21). Alianza divulga actas de EFE donde Ajenjo revela sus diálogos con Lagos. La Tercera. https://www.latercera.com/noticia/alianza-divulga-actas-de-efe-donde-ajenjo-revela-sus-dialogos-con-lagos/

Equipo de prensa CHV. (2015). Guerrilleros. La historia tras el fusil. Capítulo 1. Parte 1 [Documental]. ChileVisión. https://www.chilevision.cl/guerrilleros/capitulo-completo/guerrilleros-capitulo-1-26-agosto-parte-1

Equipo FMDOS. (2016, mayo 4). Descubre la confesión hot del senador Fulvio Rossi. FMDOS. https://www.fmdos.cl/noticias/descubre-la-confesion-hot-del-senador-fulvio-rossi/

Espectador, E. (2019, octubre 21). Comunidades afectadas por minería de Cerro Matoso recibirán $160.000 millones [Text]. elespectador.com. https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/comunidades-afectadas-por-mineria-de-cerro-matoso-recibiran-160000-millones/

Espinoza Riquelme, N. (2020, septiembre 7). Corrupción en Atacama: Por qué el CDE acusa de cohecho a Jaime Mulet y dos abogados ligados a la DC. BioBioChile – La Red de Prensa Más Grande de Chile. https://www.biobiochile.cl/noticias/nacional/chile/2020/09/07/corrupcion-en-atacama-por-que-el-cde-acusa-de-cohecho-a-jaime-mulet-y-dos-abogados-ligados-a-la-dc.shtml

Gárate, M. (2016). “¡Lo agarraron!” Representaciones del arresto de Augusto Pinochet en Londres y el despertar del exilio chileno en Europa (1998-2000). Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos. Nouveaux mondes mondes nouveaux – Novo Mundo Mundos Novos – New world New worlds. https://doi.org/10.4000/nuevomundo.69482

Godoy, Ó. (1999). La transición chilena a la democracia: Pactada. Estudios Públicos, 74, 79-106. https://www.cepchile.cl/cep/estudios-publicos/n-61-a-la-90/estudios-publicos-n-74/la-transicion-chilena-a-la-democracia-pactada

Guzmán, P. (2001). El caso Pinochet [Documental; DVCam]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBcga3VFglI

Herceg, J. S. (2020). Los silencios de la tortura en Chile. Revista de ciencia política (Santiago), 40(1), 115-136. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-090X2020000100115

Holzapfel, M. (2006, septiembre 15). La mujer del atentado a Pinochet [Rebelión]. Chile. https://rebelion.org/la-mujer-del-atentado-a-pinochet/

Huneeus, C. (1997). La autodisolución de la «democracia protegida» en Chile. Revista Ciencia Política, 19, 61-86.

Huneeus, C. (2018, octubre 22). La detención de Pinochet en Londres y la democracia semi-soberana. CIPER Chile. https://www.ciperchile.cl/2018/10/22/la-detencion-de-pinochet-en-londres-y-la-democracia-semi-soberana/

Jara Herrera, R. (2020). Mal vecino [Documental; Digital]. Ricardo Jara Herrera.

Kaltwasser, C. R. (2007). Chile: Transición pactada y débil autodeterminación colectiva de la sociedad. Revista Mexicana de Sociología, 30.

Kelly, F. (2020, julio 30). Hoy formalizarán a Mario Morales por fraude al fisco, soborno y cohecho. Diario Chañarcillo. https://www.chanarcillo.cl/hoy-formalizaran-a-mario-morales-por-fraude-al-fisco-soborno-y-cohecho/

Labbé, D. (2019, enero 31). “En el período de Patricio Aylwin se torturaba a las personas para arrancarles confesiones”. piensaChile. http://piensachile.com/2019/01/en-el-periodo-de-patricio-aylwin-se-torturaba-a-las-personas-para-arrancarles-confesiones/

Manzano, C. (2014). La Asamblea de la civilidad. Movilización social contra la dictadura en los 80. Londres38. https://www.londres38.cl/1934/articles-97495_recurso_1.pdf

Mostrador, E. (2011, abril 1). Empresa de Ferrocarriles del Estado registra pérdidas por $115.686 millones en 2010. El Mostrador. https://www.elmostrador.cl/mercados/2011/04/01/empresa-de-los-ferrocarriles-del-estado-registra-perdida-por-115-686-millones-en-2010-2/

Mostrador, E. (2019, agosto 30). Viajes injustificados: Contraloría objeta salidas al extranjero de alcaldes y concejales de 8 municipios. El Mostrador. https://www.elmostrador.cl/noticias/pais/2019/08/30/viajes-injustificados-contraloria-objeta-salidas-al-extranjero-de-alcaldes-y-concejales-de-8-municipios/

Moulian, T. (2002). Chile actual: Anatomía de un mito (3. ed., reimpr). LOM.

Oporto Valencia, L. (2015). Los perros andan sueltos: Imágenes del postfascismo. Usach.

Pizarro, G., & Sepúlveda, N. (2017, septiembre 7). Asesorías parlamentarias: Al menos 40 diputados pagaron por informes plagiados. CIPER Chile. https://www.ciperchile.cl/2017/09/07/asesorias-parlamentarias-al-menos-40-diputados-pagaron-por-informes-plagiados/

Portales, F. (2018, octubre 13). La Concertación defendió a Pinochet hace 20 años. Piensa Chile. https://piensachile.com/2018/10/la-concertacion-defendio-a-pinochet-hace-20-anos/

Salazar, G. (2011). En el nombre del poder popular constituyente: (Chile, siglo XXI). LOM Ediciones.

Salazar, G. (2015). Dispositivo Histórico para Asambleas Populares de base que se proponen desarrollar su Poder Constituyente. Ediciones CTIT. http://ctit.cl/documentos/dispositivo.pdf

Salazar, G. (2019, diciembre 19). Gabriel Salazar: «Tenemos que eliminar ya a esta clase política». Interferencia. https://interferencia.cl/articulos/gabriel-salazar-tenemos-que-eliminar-ya-esta-clase-politica

Salazar Salvo, M. (2019, octubre 19). El anterior gran estallido social en Santiago: Protestas y barricadas contra la dictadura. Interferencia. https://interferencia.cl/articulos/el-anterior-gran-estallido-social-en-santiago-protestas-y-barricadas-contra-la-dictadura

Salazar Vergara, G., & Pinto, J. (Eds.). (1999). Historia contemporánea de Chile (1. ed). LOM Ediciones.

Sánchez, J. (2008, septiembre 15). Jaime Rebolledo, CNTF :“Los responsables de la crisis de EFE son Ricardo Lagos y Luis Ajenjo”. El Ciudadano. https://www.elciudadano.com/entrevistas/jaime-rebolledo-cntf-“los-responsables-de-la-crisis-de-efe-son-ricardo-lagos-y-luis-ajenjo”/09/15/

Sandoval, R. (2013, octubre 7). Los 100 rostros de la farándula y el espectáculo que se pasaron a la política, desde el regreso a la democracia. The Clinic Online. https://www.theclinic.cl/2013/10/07/los-100-rostros-de-la-farandula-y-el-espectaculo-que-se-pasaron-a-la-politica-desde-el-regreso-a-la-democracia/

The Clinic. (2015, agosto 6). La versión de Gustavo Hasbún por la foto pelo en pecho que circula en redes sociales. The Clinic. https://www.theclinic.cl/2015/08/06/la-version-de-gustavo-hasbun-por-la-foto-pelo-en-pecho-que-circula-en-redes-sociales/

TVN. (2015). Visita del Papa a Chile. Incidentes Parque O´Higgins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgSU3jdq2cY

Zalaquett, C. (2011). La frentista “Fabiola”: Un relato en reversa del atentado a Pinochet* «Fabiola»: A reverse story on Pinochet attack. 31.

Research scholar, School of Law, University of the Americas, Chile. Doctor in Criminal Law, University of Salamanca, Spain. Master in Criminology and Juvenile Delinquency, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.

Continue Reading
Comments

Americas

Is Mike Pompeo the worst Secretary of State in history?

Published

on

State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain

Trump may have a race for the worst presidential title, but Pompeo is in a class of his own. James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson remain formidable contenders for Donald Trump in the ranking of worst US presidents. However, there is no competition for Mike Pompeo, Trump’s most passionate subordinate, in the worst Secretary of State ranking.

During his two years and nine months as the nation’s top diplomat, Pompeo did nothing to improve the US administration’s security, values, or even policies. His term ended in humiliation: humiliation from European allies, disgusted by the profanity he and Trump have committed over the past four years. On January 4, Pompeo announced he would travel to Europe and meet European Union leaders.

Two days later, after Trump-fueled riots on Capitol Hill, EU officials said they would not meet him. So Pompeo canceled his last chance to travel abroad. It’s been a long season of humiliation for Pompeo. In August, he pressed the UN Security Council to pass a ban on the sale of conventional weapons to Iran. Only one of the council members, the Dominican Republic, joined the US in supporting the ban; Russia and China against it; others, all US allies, abstained.

The episode depicts, in extreme form, two of Pompeo’s most distinct features: the obsession that foments regime change in Iran and the inability to bring it about or any other goal. Like Trump, Pompeo has been unceasingly opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. It’s no coincidence that Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic on May 8, 2018, just 12 days after Pompeo was sworn in as Secretary of State. (His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, has advised Trump to stick to the deal.)

Pompeo claimed, with high confidence, the sanctions would force Tehran to return to negotiating a “better” nuclear deal, or perhaps force a regime collapse. Today: Iran’s economy is in ruins, but the regime survives, its hardline faction is stronger than ever, and its reactors are more capable of producing atomic bombs than ever before. (President-elect Joe Biden wants to restart the nuclear deal, but Iran’s technological advances and political hardening will make this more difficult to achieve.)

This week, he may realize his “maximum pressure” campaign has failed miserably. No wonder then that Pompeo changed course and claimed, in a speech to the National Press Club, that Iran was al-Qaeda’s new “base” and declared, “The time is now for America and all countries free to destroy the al-Qaeda axis of Iran.” The US intelligence official said there was not any evidence for this claim.

Pompeo’s other big target is China, and he has called for regime change in Beijing as well, despite the goals that are clearly absurd. In fact, a large proportion of China’s population supports the party that ruled the government, which lifted more than 850 million people out of poverty in record time. However, there is nothing “Marxist-Leninist” about President Xi Jinping’s philosophy, which seeks expansion through mercantilist techniques, not ideological conformity.

While it is important to contain Chinese military presence in the South China Sea (something the US military has been doing for some time), it is very difficult to compare its scope or ambition to that of the Soviet Union, which once enjoyed a presence in a truly global world. Pompeo misunderstood the nature of China’s challenge. As a result, he came up with half-baked ideas on how to deal with it.

There are also Pompeo’s lies. He has claimed he and Trump have made NATO “stronger” than ever. In reality, those trans-Atlantic relations are strained as Trump continually rejects the alliance in general and the European Union in particular.

Pompeo has also been a corrupt foreign minister. By filming a speech in Jerusalem to be broadcast at the 2020 Republican National Convention, he was violating not only the law, but also the previously announced policy of barring department employees from attending political conventions.

He used security guards to carry out errands for himself, his wife, and his wife’s mother. He also asked Trump to fire the inspector general who investigated the misuse of his government’s resources. He threw a lavish dinner party inside the State Department, inviting donors who might contribute to some future political campaigns.

He tricked the Voice of America, which in recent decades had become a fairly objective global news service, into becoming a propaganda organ for Trump. He demoralized the foreign service even more thoroughly than Tillerson had done.

Pompeo paved his way to power by directing his every word to the pleasure of the boss, starting when he was director of the CIA (where he frequently omitted or distorted intelligence that contradicted Trump’s hunches). He is a dishonest intermediary, reluctant to speak the truth to power, for fear that he will lose power in doing so.

To end it all, in his final days, Pompeo issued a no-discussion order that overturned existing policies: lifting restrictions on official contact with Taiwan, designating Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and declaring Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen an “organization. foreign terrorists ”.

This movement will not have a long-term effect. The future Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, can reverse this dictum, although it would be awkward to do so. It was an act of sheer mischief, like a teenager throwing a rotten egg at a new neighbor’s front door.

Is Pompeo the worst Secretary of State ever? In modern times, John Foster Dulles (former Secretary of State) may be a rival for the crown, but, fortunately, President Dwight Eisenhower did not listen to Dulles’ most dire advice.

Dulles was fanatical about pushing for the “backsliding” of Soviet communism, but Eisenhower, however, still adopted the “containment” policy of his predecessor, Harry Truman. Dulles also offered his French counterpart two tactical nuclear weapons to prevent the Viet Cong siege of Dien Bien Phu. However, Eisenhower was not interested in doing so. So, Mike Pompeo won the crown of worst US Secretary of State. Next week, he will fly back to Kansas, where he was a congressman and where he hopes to run for the Senate.

Continue Reading

Americas

Latin America and China: The economic and debt situation and the U.S. discomfort

Published

on

Latin American countries have no relatively good room for fiscal and monetary policy adjustment like China, and basically lack the ability for governmental countercyclical adjustment. This is mainly reflected in their room for fiscal and monetary policy.

From a fiscal viewpoint, the taxation ability of Latin American governments is generally weak. Taxation accounts for 16-18% of GDP, which is obviously lower than the 30-35% level of developed countries.

In terms of monetary policy, since the currencies of Latin American countries are directly correlated to the U.S. dollar exchange rate, the dollar fluctuation also entails the reduction of their room for monetary policy adjustment. These countries have continuously borrowed and cut interest rates. Hence there is little room for further steps.

The Federal Reserve has adopted the policy of unlimited quantitative easing which, in practical and easy-to-understand terms, is one of the unconventional ways by which a central bank intervenes in a State’s financial and economic system to increase the amount of debt money in circulation.

Although the U.S. stock market went into a slump several times, it should be noted that Nasdaq reached a new high. Ultimately, money has become more circulating. Interest rates in Latin American countries, however, have become very low and there is little room for further cuts.

At the same time, their foreign debts are also relatively high. For example, Argentina has recently approved a 70billion dollar debt restructuring plan and its debt accounted for over 50% of GDP.

The first solution to the debt crisis is to delay repayment, and the second one is to cancel interest or partly write off the debt. The creditor has no choice but to be forced to agree if one of the counterparts is unable to repay it. This is an endless cycle that, once the debt restructuring plan is approved, will only alleviate and mitigate Argentina’s crisis.

Argentina’s debt crisis occurred nine times in history, and this is the third time in the new century. Inflation in Argentina has caused its currency to depreciate by over 70%. According to statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, over 12 million people were jobless in Latin America in 2020. Poor people in Latin America will increase from 118 to 130 million and the extremely poor people will rise from over 60 million to over 90 million.

Faced with some new difficulties and challenges, we need to explain and assess China-Latin America relations at the current historic juncture. The development of China-Latin America relations has shifted from a period of high-speed growth to a period of stable growth. Quantitative and extensive development is shifting to a qualitative and specific one.

Initially China-Latin America relations took off suddenly and even exceeded expectations. Instead, a steady, efficient, stable and effective approach is currently preferred. The orderly progression of diplomatic and commercial relations is more advantageous than a context of actual speed.

This is especially the case in the context of intensified strategic competition between China and the United States. The political situation in Latin America, and the further impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, mean that certain changes need to be made to China-Latin America relations.

Firstly, the U.S. influence on China-Latin America relations needs to be assessed. Sino-U.S. relations are the most important, sensitive and complex bilateral relations in Chinese diplomacy.

Recently, there have been many major changes in Sino-U.S. relations, but one of them is often overlooked: from the Latin American countries’ perspective, the relationship between Latin America and the United States is the most important one. China’s interests in Latin America have not surpassed the United States’ in terms of political and economic development.

Here are some data. In the field of economy and trade, the United States is still Latin America’s main trading partner. The same applies to investment. The United States has great advantage over China.

In 2017, trade between the United States and Latin America exceeded 760 billion dollars, almost three times the volume of trade between China and Latin America. In 2019, trade between China and Latin America was about 270-280 billion dollars, while the volume of trade between the United States and Latin America was almost 800 billion dollars.

From an investment perspective, U.S.A.’s and Latin America’s direct engagement in 2017 was 45 billion dollars, almost double that of China. Therefore the United States outperforms China in terms of trade and investment.

However, benefiting from the advantage of China’s economic growth and the structural complementarity between China and Latin America, the acceleration of China’s economic and trade investment in Latin America is higher than that of the United States. Therefore, China has an incremental advantage in Latin America, but the United States enjoys an ‘equity’ primacy.

For example, outgoing President Trump has never visited Latin America, but this does not mean that the United States does not pay attention to it. Quite the reverse. If we look at the reports on Sino-Latin American relations issued by U.S. think tanks, scholars and experts are particularly worried.

The U.S. Congress holds several hearings on Sino-Latin American relations every year and invites not only local experts, but also experts from Mexico, Brazil and other countries. We can see that the United States attaches great importance to the development of China-Latin America relations.

We wonder, however, why has the United States not taken propagandistically political positions in Latin America as it does towards China, the Middle East, South-East Asia and the South China Sea.

This means that the United States still considerably trust Latin American bonhomie, good nature, patience and tolerance. The U.S. media merely claim that China’s influence in Latin America has increased and its soft power has enhanced but, overall, China’s influence in Latin America is far less than that of the United States.

If we ask in Brazil what they think of U.S.-China, U.S.-Brazil and Brazil-China relations, we get the following answers. The United States is a model for Brazil’s development and the values and ideologies of both Brazil and the United States are close. China is an important trade and investment partner for Brazil. From an economic viewpoint, Brazil’s development should seek to establish a better partnership with China, but in terms of ideology and values, the Forbidden City is further away than the White House.

For Latin America, maintaining stable relations with the United States is a primary interest. After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Latin America, China – thanks to some of its medical equipment – did its best to help those countries mitigate the impact of the disease. A Chinese state-owned company responded to the call and promised to build a hospital with an in-patient module in a conference and exhibition centre in Panama to help infected patients, for only a small sum of money from the State.

Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, however, rejected the proposal outright. In the end, Panama spent 12 million U.S. dollars and built 100 hospital beds and 26 intensive care units, without taking advantage of Chinese aid.

On April 16, Cortizo presided over the hospital’s opening ceremony, announcing that it was his own decision. Conversely, when former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela (2014-19) was in power, he visited China, and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi reciprocated by travelling to Panama.

At the time, President Varela said that the landmark project for the expansion of the Silk Road passed through Panama, as did the 4 billion dollar plan to expand the canal and railway from Panama to Costa Rica.  The new President in power, however, has not followed the philosophy of his predecessor, terrified of displeasing the United States. Unfortunately, this news is not reported in the Italian press.

Continue Reading

Americas

Gallup: Trump Globally the Least Respected U.S. President This Century

Published

on

On January 15th, the Gallup World Poll issued its preliminary report for their upcoming “Rating World Leaders: 2021” report. It shows the results that have been tabulated for 60 of the 135 countries where they annually sample global public opinion about U.S. leadership. One especially clear finding from it is that when their final report for all 135 countries will be issued, it will show that among the three U.S. Presidencies on which Gallup has internationally surveyed — which are only the three U.S. Presidents in this century — Trump is clearly the one who is globally respected the least, even lower than George W. Bush was respected.

Here are the findings, in each of the 60 nations, and the percentage increase or decrease from Gallup’s last completed survey report, “Rating World Leaders: 2020”:

“Approval of U.S. Leadership Across 60 Countries and Areas”

“Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?”

%  “Approve”:

  • Dominican Republic, 66% was 56% in 2020
  • Cameroon, 62 was 61
  • Georgia, 61 was 43
  • Zambia, 56 was 26
  • Albania, 56 was 67
  • Philippines, 55 was 58
  • Uganda, 53 was 47
  • Mauritius, 50 was 59
  • Zimbabwe, 50 was 59
  • Ecuador, 43 was 34
  • Colombia, 42 was 41
  • Moldova, 40 was 45
  • Brazil, 40 was 38
  • Japan, 39 was 34
  • Kyrgyzstan, 34 was 32
  • Namibia, 34 was 31
  • Bulgaria, 32 was 26
  • Cambodia, 32 was 49
  • Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China, 31 was 31
  • Poland, 30 was 59
  • South Korea, 30 was 41
  • Bolivia , 30 was 31
  • Australia, 29 was 23
  • Taiwan, Province of China,    28 was 40
  • New Zealand, 26 was 17
  • Mexico, 26 was 17
  • Malta, 26 was 30
  • Ethiopia, 25 was 37
  • Argentina, 24 was 26
  • Ukraine, 24 was 32
  • Greece, 21 was 19
  • Croatia, 21 was 25
  • Morocco, 21 was 22
  • Serbia  , 20 was 19
  • Ireland, 20 was 30
  • Finland, 20 was 20
  • Slovenia, 19 was 20
  • Cyprus, 19 was 27
  • Tunisia, 19 was 24
  • Italy, 19 was 22
  • France, 18 was 23
  • Russia, 18 was 11
  • Netherlands, 18 was 20
  • Canada, 17 was 22
  • Spain, 17 was 23
  • Chile, 16 was 16
  • Estonia, 15 was 17
  • United Kingdom, 15 was 25
  • Denmark, 14 was 24
  • Turkey, 13 was 12
  • Slovakia, 13 was 28
  • Norway, 12 was 15
  • Portugal, 12 was 14
  • Belgium, 12 was 17
  • Sweden, 11 was 12
  • Switzerland, 10 was 13
  • Austria, 9 was 11
  • Iran, 6 was 6
  • Germany, 6 was 12
  • Iceland, 5 was 9

Remarkably, Gallup doesn’t poll in China on this question. (Nor does Pew.)

Notably, Trump is more disapproved-of in Europe than in any other part of the world. (Also, as Pew reported on 16 December 2020, “In Europe, more trust Putin than Trump.”)

Those percentage-changes that we’ve just shown total to a decline, among all 60 countries, of 121 percentage-points (-121%), or, almost exactly, a -2% change from the 2019 findings that had been reported in Gallup’s “Rating World Leaders: 2020”.

Gallup says that “until all of Gallup’s 2020 fieldwork is complete in a few months, it is still too early to say that the U.S. will see its worst ranking in the history of Gallup’s World Poll.” However, Gallup’s “Rating World Leaders: 2020” report covered 135 lands, and the 60 lands that they have tabulated as of now, for the 2021 report, seem to be a representative sampling of all of those 135, and collectively those 60 populations have reduced their respect for America’s leadership by 2%. In the 2020 report, the global level of approval for America’s leadership was 33%. The all-time-low had been the 30% figure in 2017, Trump’s first year, a finding which was based on Trump’s promises, not on his performance. The upcoming final Gallup report “Rating World Leaders: 2021” will — if the results from those 60 lands do turn out to be representative of the global findings — produce a 31% global approval level by all of the approximately 135 lands that will be covered in it. For each of Trump’s four years, then, the global percentages will have been (for each one of his four years) 30%, 31%, 33%, and (now, in his final year) 31%. Each year, it was even lower than the prior record low, of George W. Bush, had been, at 34% in 2008

There was higher disapproval than approval of America’s leadership during the Presidencies of George W. Bush and of Donald Trump than there was approval of either U.S. President’s leadership. Strikingly, however, there was higher approval than disapproval during (and throughout) the two terms of office of Barack Obama. That Nobel Peace Prize winner was/is internationally admired. (Crazy, but true: he was an international charmer.)

Here are summarized (with links to the evidence regarding) the actual chief international achievements of each of these three U.S. Presidents:

George W. Bush: destroying Iraq, and destroying Afghanistan.

Barack Obama: destroying Syria, and destroying Ukraine, while continuing Bush’s destructions of Iraq and of Afghanistan.

Donald Trump: destroying Iran, and destroying Venezuela, while continuing his predecessors’ destructions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. He also made the destruction of Palestine even worse than it had previously been.

So, the question regarding incoming U.S. President Joe Biden will be whether he will continue this tradition further, or reverse it. Because, it’s really all the same tradition, throughout all three U.S. Presidencies this century. By contrast, global perceptions are that those three U.S. Presidents were drastically different from one another.

On 15 September 290290, Pew bannered “U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly” and reported that:

The publics surveyed also see Trump more negatively than other world leaders. Among the six leaders included on the survey, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks: A median of 76% across the nations polled have confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split. Ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are overwhelmingly negative, although not as negative as those for Trump.

Right above that was this graph, which shows starkly the false European perception that Barack Obama was vastly superior to George W. Bush and Donald Trump:

Apparently, most Europeans have no problem with a U.S. President who continues America’s use of torture, and who continues America’s legal immunity of prosecution for banksters, and who imposes ethnic cleansing abroad, and who aims for achieving a U.S. first-strike ability to conquer Russia by a sudden nuclear blitz attack. Style is everything, for them; substance is nothing, to them. Why didn’t they like Hitler? Is it only because he did it to them?

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending