The revolution rolls right along: Property rights a thing of the past in Venezuela
as Venezuela ‘seizes’ more ranches
The Venezuelan government has said it will confiscate a further two ranches owned by a subsidiary of UK firm Vestey as part of its land reform programme.
It is planning to hand the farms to poor workers under a law enabling the state to confiscate land declared idle or without historic ownership titles.
Meanwhile, El Nuevo Herald continues to investigate PDVSA. Via Venezuela’s PDVSA Investigated for Making Double Payment in the Millions. Hugo’s revolution rolls right along.
On a different country, but a very interesting article, Bolivia: an ‘indigenous revolution’? Some Westerners view recent Latin American protests through rose-tinted spectacles, by Josie Appleton brings up an interesting point,
Whence comes Western radicals’ starry-eyed account of the Bolivian protests? Less from Bolivia, perhaps, than from their own backyard. The habit of looking for revolution overseas has long been a tendency on the Left. Disillusioned with their own working class, they often went searching for a readymade revolution in the mountains of Nicaragua or Bolivia. Today, with domestic politics less attractive than ever, they chase more keenly after far-off uprisings.
It always helps if there is a nice cultural myth to go with it, such as Sandino in the case of Nicaragua or Tupac Katari in the case of Bolivia. This gives the movement a romantic, and inevitable, feel to it. It’s not just about the nitty gritty of political struggle, but about a spirit repressed over centuries rising again. Then there’s the fact that it’s not your country, so if it all goes wrong you can just get the next plane out. It’s possible to pursue the fantasy of revolution, avoiding any uncomfortable realities.
However, some of those lining up with today’s Bolivian protests are not just disillusioned with politics at home – they’ve never really tried it. People who might skirt around their local estate because it’s too rough will nonetheless happily march alongside Bolivian peasants in opposition to US policy. Theirs is a middle-class anti-Westernism, a suspicion of big business and big development. It’s a fantasy of return to a simpler, cleaner life, away from the mess of burgers and MTV. The call to ‘restore the Inca nation’ strikes a chord.
But the Incas can’t show the way forward, as most of the Bolivian protesters seem all too aware. If we were to draw a lesson from events in Bolivia, it might be that there is the will, but not yet the way. Today’s political situation provides new opportunities, but activists find it difficult to make the most of them. The failure of political vocabulary afflicts Bolivian ex-miners just as much as it does political movements in the West. All of us – Bolivians and British alike – need to grapple with that problem over the coming years. Western leftists would do better to face up to the reality of politics today, than to fix their misty-eyed gaze on the Andes.
Or anywhere else.