PART A: Short Critical Reflections
The article “The State and the Military” by Green and Branford, aim to explain the journey various countries in Latin America went through in pursuit of democracy. The article outlines how Venezuela has struggled to attain democracy since the period of dictatorship regimes. Green and Branford contend that Venezuela was saved from dictatorship by Hugo Chavez, who was elected as the country’s president in 1998 (67). After assuming the presidency role, Hugo Chavez was able to bring radical change in a region that was headed by conservatives including Carlos Menem of Argentina, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico (Green and Branford 67). Despite Chavez’s efforts to bring democracy to Venezuela, the opposition pushed the agenda of overthrowing his government by calling for a referendum in 2004. Nevertheless, Chavez irrefutably won the battle against the United States-supported opposition. Green and Branford argue that the quest for democracy was inspired by Simon Bolivar, one of the greatest freedom fighters (67). The article outlines that the quest for democracy was also driven by other factors such as the need to eliminate end authoritarian leadership and eliminate social inequality issues.
I agree and disagree with various aspects outlined in the article. I agree that the quest for democracy brought an end to authoritarian leadership across Venezuela. In the earlier regimes, the military was used to take control of the people due to the fear that they would rebel against their governments. In the present day, Venezuela and other Latin American countries including Argentina are democratic, whereby the military is not used to take control of the people. Besides, I disagree with the fact that the quest for democracy was to eliminate social inequality issues. This is because the gap between the poor and the rich has rapidly increased over the years across the country and other nations within Latin America including Mexico.
The article “Before, They Killed Us with Guns, Now They Do It with Hunger” by Nicola Bullard aims to explain the journey Argentinians had gone through to address various issues such as injustice and high rate of poverty across Argentina. Bullard argues social injustice was rampant across Argentina in the earlier regimes and it was characterized by the disappearance of many individuals, particularly children. The article outlines that as a result of social injustice, women who their children had disappeared converged daily in front of the presidential palace, situated in Plaza De Mayo to keep vigil of their children and demonstrate their struggle for change in a country that had for a long time been under dictatorship regimes. Besides, the article outlines that the quest for social change across Argentina was driven by the need to end hunger as 70 percent of households in the urban centers and northern Argentina lived below the poverty line (Bullard). With a 25 percent unemployment rate and significant fall in real wages, many households could not afford basic needs such as food, and people were dying out of hunger and illness (Bullard). In many instances, Argentinians claimed that the earlier regimes killed them with guns, and the government in power was concerned with killing them of hunger. The article outlines that the quest for change helped to reduce the rate of poverty and improved living conditions across the country.
I agree and disagree with various aspects outlined in the article. I agree with the fact that the quest for change across Argentina and other Latin American countries such as Venezuela helped to reduce instances of social injustices that were experienced in the earlier dictatorship regimes. I disagree with the fact that the quest for change helped to reduce the rate of poverty within Argentina and other Latin American countries such as Mexico. Although these countries adopted the radical change, the poverty rate has significantly increased over the past years due to a lack of effective allocation of national resources to various needy areas.
PART B: Essay 3 (Movement for Socialism in Bolivia)
The Movement for Socialism in Bolivia is one of the associations in Latin America that helped to bring radical changes to Latin America. The movement has a long history and it is argued that it was originally formed to address the issues of cocoa farmers. Later, the movement changed into a political association. The Movement for Socialism in Bolivia was characterized by various successes and failures in both social and political arenas.
Bolivia’s movement for socialism (MAS) is credited for contributing to the progress of socialism. MAS is a profound communist political group that was founded in 1998. The movement’s origin can be traced to the 1980s following the closure of Bolivian Mining Corporation along with other mines, an event that resulted in many mine workers losing their jobs, thus shifting to cocoa farming to sustain their livelihoods. In the newly adopted occupation of cocoa farming, the ex-miners faced various challenges. Notably, the rise in the number of cocoa farmers across Bolivia was consistent with the increase in join protests that were experienced in the country in 1992. MAS began as a movement that would address the needs of cocoa farmers in Bolivia, however, later it changed into a political association through its leadership (Ackerman 136). The primary objective of the movement transforming was to build a political tool that focused on both civil and social issues that the people of Bolivia faced and the association was referred to as Assembly for the Sovereignty of the People (ASP). The primary leaders of the MAS movement were Evo Morales and Alejo Veliz, who were able to build strong relationships and collaboration amongst the cocoa farmers (Anria 6). Due to strong collaboration and relationships amongst the huge number of peasant cocoa farmers, the movement’s grassroots support and popularity significantly increased across Bolivia.
The MAS movement faced various challenges related to social and political aspects in the process of increasing its popularity across Bolivia. The movement was faced by strong resistance from the majority of Bolivians in its attempt to gain nationwide popularity (Anria 8). Nevertheless, the peasant cocoa farmers hugely supported the movement, but the majority of Bolivians did not support the MAS movement as they felt that it was a major threat to the country’s government. This is one of the challenges that Evo Morales had to tackle to ensure that the movement appealed to the local people who looked forward to creating national unity (Rice 918). MAS greatly benefitted the local people by helping in the culmination of the apartheid systems that were against Bolivians.
The MAS movement rejuvenated politically when Evo Morales condemned the United States for getting involved in Bolivian affairs and when Morales was elected as Bolivia’s president in 2005 and it has largely benefitted the country. Since the movement’s political rejuvenation, it has helped to create awareness of women’s rights, contributed to the economic progression of the aboriginal people, improved living conditions and health care delivery across Bolivia, and raised education levels within the country. Besides, the movement through Morale’s election created a shift of power from the elites to the native Bolivian workers. Furthermore, the movement contributed to the significant growth of Bolivia’s economy. The country’s economy has grown at about 5 percent annually since 2006 compared to the 2.7 percent rate it grew from 1995 to 2005 (Waitzkin 22). The MAS movement has also contributed to the expansion of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2005. Today, Bolivia is one of the fastest-growing nations in Latin America.
The Movement for Socialism has been the main source of national development within Bolivia. The movement contributed to the establishment of various investment projects, in which Bolivia has been gaining high revenue levels. Bolivia uses the revenues to fund various infrastructure projects such as the building of better schools and health centers, and transport facilities. Considering these facts, the Bolivian MAS can be considered as one of the most successful social movements across Latin America that have contributed to economic development and helped to improve people’s living conditions within Bolivia.
The Movement for Socialism in Bolivia is notably one of the associations that helped to relieve Latin America from dictatorship regimes. The movement was initially formed to address the issues faced by cocoa farmers. However, it later changed to a political movement once it achieved popularity in Bolivia. In the process of achieving popularity, the movement received strong opposition from the majority of Bolivians who argued that the association would be a threat to the country’s government and the economy as well. Despite criticisms, MAS achieved popularity when Evo Morales assumed the presidency role. Since then, the movement has helped to improve Bolivia’s economy and improved living conditions across the country.
Ackerman, Edwin. “When Movements Become Parties: The Bolivian MAS in Comparative Perspective.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, vol. 49, no. 2, 2020, pp. 136–137. https://doi.org/10.1177/0094306120902418b.
Anria, Santiago. “When Movements Become Parties.” 2018. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108551755.
Bullard, Nicola. “Before, They Killed Us with Guns, Now They Do It with Hunger” Some Moments from the Argentina Social Focus on the Global South, 2002. http://focusweb.org/publications/2002/before-they-killed-us-with-guns.htm
Green, Duncan, and Sue Branford. Faces of Latin America: (Revised). NYU Press, 2013, pp.67-87
Rice, Roberta. “When Movements Become Parties: The Bolivian MAS in Comparative Perspective. By Santiago Anria. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 300p. $105.00 Cloth.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 17, no. 3, 2019, pp. 917–918. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1537592719001555.
Waitzkin, Howard. “Revolution Now: Teachings from the Global South for Revolutionaries in the Global North.” Monthly Review 69.6 (2017): 18-36. https://doi.org/10.14452/mr-069-06-2017-10_2