Chavez tried to create a state that would pursue an independent foreign policy and take into account the interests of the poorest masses (the Comandante himself came from the people). I must say that in Latin America this was not the first attempt of this kind. And among the predecessors of the Venezuelan Caudillo were both left and right politicians (for example, Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron or Brazilian leader Getulio Vargas).
In Guatemala at the end of 40-x - the beginning of 50-s, presidents Juan José Arevalo and Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán conducted socially-oriented patriotic policies. The first introduced a labor code and a new school system, which made it possible to raise the literacy rate of the population. The second nationalized land owned by the American corporation Unites Fruit, and distributed them to the peasants. True, in 1954, he was removed from power in a coup organized by the United States.
In Nicaragua, the leader of the national liberation struggle is General Augusto Cesar Sandino, who in 1926, opposed the American marines occupying the country. The Americans were forced to get out, but left their "looking": the National Guard of President Anastasio Somoza. In 1934, Somoza began peace negotiations and lured Sandino to the presidential palace, where the general was killed. The banner of Sandinism was picked up in 1979 by young revolutionaries led by Daniel Ortega. They managed to come to power and implement large-scale reforms. However, the economic mistakes made by the Sandinistas allowed pro-American liberals to win the 1990 parliamentary elections of the year. In 2008, the patriots took revenge and came to power again in Nicaragua.
In Costa Rica, in 1948, oligarchs who were oriented toward Washington disrupted presidential elections, and this led to civil war. The winner was José Figueres, the founder of the National Liberation Party. In the 1953 year, he was elected president of the country, and then confirmed his credentials twice more (for the last time in the 1970 year). According to historians, Figueres sincerely sought to create a society of social justice, equality and mutual assistance in the country.
In Panama, left-wing nationalist policies were pursued by General Omar Torrijos, who came to power in a military coup in 1968. Torrijos belongs to the concept of a military path to socialism. To expand the social base, he created the National Guard: detachments of workers who were supposed to restore order in the country. The general established close relations with Cuba, entered into a political alliance with Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico, and in 1973 secured the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution that obligated the United States to free the Panama Canal zone. In 1978, Torrijos entered into an agreement with Washington, according to which, twenty years later, the Americans were to transfer the canal to Panama. Having achieved this decision, Torrijos said that his main mission was completed and left the presidency (although as commander of the National Guard, he retained a significant influence on the situation in the country). The general died as a result aviation disaster in 1982, and many experts are inclined to believe that the accident was rigged by the American intelligence services.
In Brazil, Jetulio Vargas, who led the Movement for the Economic and Political Improvement of the country, first began to pursue a sovereign policy. At the beginning of 1930, as a result of the worldwide crisis, the price of a pound of coffee fell from 22 to 8 cents per pound, and this caused a deep economic depression in Brazil. In 1937, Vargas came to power with the slogan Nuevo Estado (new power). He conducted a constitutional reform, as a result of which Brazil turned from a loose confederation of states into a centralized state, limited the influence of the latifundists and ensured the country's energy independence, transferring the oil fields to state companies. He encouraged Brazilian entrepreneurs by putting obstacles in the path of American expansion. True, he constantly had to maneuver between the military, coffee planters (the old oligarchy) and the left. As a result, in 1954, he committed suicide, unable, as he wrote in his suicide note, to endure "pressure from the international financial community."
In Argentina, a symbol of national independence, of course, is Colonel Juan Domingo Peron, the leader of the junta, who came to power in a military coup in 1943 year. The coup was a reaction to the so-called "inglorious decade" (1930 – 1943), when the country was ruled by a corrupt oligarchy that neglected national interests. Perona, who took the presidency in 1946, is usually portrayed as a right-wing politician, since he encouraged national capital and provided refuge to fugitive Nazis. At the same time, during his rule, the rights and powers of the trade unions, which had become an influential player on the political scene of Argentina, expanded unprecedentedly. In one of the provinces, Peron conducted an experiment on the creation of people's committees, endowed with full power (analogous to the Russian Soviets). He managed to develop the country's light industry and lay the foundations of nuclear energy. Peron pursued an independent course in foreign policy, and this could not forgive him influential businessmen and the military, guided by the United States. They provoked a coup in 1955 and overthrew the president. And although at the beginning of 70 for a short time he managed to come to power again, the epoch of Peron ended then. It should be noted that the current president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, has always been considered a committed Peronist and at the same time actively supported the political initiatives of Hugo Chávez.
And finally, in Peru, the sovereign policy is associated with the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado, who came to power as a result of a bloodless coup in 1968 year. Alvarado nationalized strategic sectors of the economy: electric power industry, oil industry, mining and processing of non-ferrous metals, telecommunications. The left-wing military conducted an agrarian reform in the interests of the Peruvian peasantry, which they considered to be the “backbone of the state”. The authorities of Peru have established partnerships with the USSR and Cuba (they purchased Soviet weapons for the astronomical sum of 2 billion dollars for those times). Alvarado considered Moscow as a natural ally in the fight against American hegemony. And it is not surprising that when his government was overthrown in 1975, the country's foreign policy changed drastically.
What prevented Latin American charismatic leaders to bring the matter to the end? Why none of them managed to defend their independence? It seems that they made a number of mistakes, which were almost imperceptible at first, but in the end turned out to be fatal. Most patriotic leaders did not seek to create mass parties or popular support movements, and therefore it was easy for opponents to challenge their conquests. This lesson was fully taken into account by Chavez, who united all the left and patriotic movements of the country into the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
As a rule, the local oligarchy removed the Latin American nationalists. Indeed, despite the fact that the rights and opportunities of businessmen were significantly limited, they managed to preserve the economic and political influence that they used to put a spoke in the wheels of supporters of the real sovereignty of South American countries. As noted by Argentine philosopher and geopolitics, Minister of Labor in the second government of Peron, Professor Alberto Buela, “even during the war for independence, the masses and revolutionary leaders (the most prominent among them, Simon Bolivar, the political symbol of Chavism) fought for the freedom of the continent, while like the comprador bourgeoisie, for free trade. ” Back in the 19th century, big businessmen opposed the political unification of South America, defending the project of “small births”, completely dependent on patrons in Washington, London or Paris. And only Hugo Chavez managed to pull out the Venezuelan oligarchs teeth, putting them before a choice: either to obey the will of the people, or to get out in Miami.
The predecessors of the Venezuelan leader for the most part came from the military environment and, giving the army paramount attention, were confident that the officers would not dare to challenge them. However, experience has shown that they were captured by illusions. Chavez, unlike them, fully took into account the ambitions of Latin American generals - each of them dreams of becoming a caudillo - and began to pursue a flexible personnel policy. As a result, the army was forced to put up with its subordinate position and did not even think about challenging the gains of the Bolivarian revolution.
And most importantly: before Chávez, patriotic politicians tried to confront Washington’s imperial ambitions alone. Of course, these attempts were doomed to failure in advance, because the power of the United States obviously exceeds the capabilities of each individual Latin American state. But by agreeing to integration and creating a single political organism, South American peoples can protect their sovereignty. In this regard, Chavez, in full agreement with the geopolitical concepts of “large spaces” of Friedrich List and the “pan-ideas” of Karl Haushofer, put forward a project of a continental union - the Bolivarian Alternative (ALBA), which was supported by his colleagues: presidents of Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador.
"Miscarriage of Europe", or an independent civilization
One of the main ideologists of the geopolitical unity of South America is Alberto Buela mentioned above. He does not like the term “Latin America”, calling it an invention of Parisian left-wing intellectuals, and prefers the name “Ibero-America” (the peoples of the continent speak Iberian languages: Spanish and Portuguese). The Argentine professor claims that sooner or later Iberoamerica will become a single political entity, which, however, will not include Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands, in any case, to the North American United States (he explains the success of the Cuban experiment ). Iberoamerica Buela views the geopolitical space as a diamond, the tops of which are Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Peru. “It is on these countries that the situation on the continent depends,” he notes, “and in order to successfully promote integration projects, a strategic alliance between Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Lima and Caracas is necessary. Such a union can lead to the formation of a single economic and political space, and then South America will become an independent pole of the world, a sovereign player in international relations. And this will mean the end of the anti-colonial war, which has lasted for more than two centuries. ”
It is worth noting that the policy of continental nationalism is perfectly combined with the Indian Renaissance, which has been observed recently in many countries of South America. The ideologist of this process was the founder of the APRA Peruvian Party (American Revolutionary People’s Alliance), Ayia de la Torre, who called for an end to the cultural colonialism of the West. And the most prominent representative of the Indian revival in politics, of course, is the modern Bolivian President Evo Morales. He defends the interests of the Indians, who constitute the majority of the population of Bolivia, but for a long time were considered second-class citizens. He proclaimed Quechua and Aymara as state languages and began to support the religions of the indigenous population. Many remember how barefoot, dressed in ritual clothing Morales brought the sacred oath to the ancient Indian goddess Pachamam near the pyramid of Acapan (shortly afterwards he was elected the supreme leader of all the Andes tribes).
The Indian tribes were also supported by the late Hugo Chavez, who, by the way, was himself half Indian. At one of the summits in Caracas, the Venezuelan president proposed not to celebrate Columbus’s Discovery of America more, but to replace it with Indigenous Day. Thus, he wanted to emphasize that Latin America is not a “miscarriage of Europe”, that it is an independent civilization, developing according to its own laws, история which began not with the "great geographical discoveries." “The eternal confrontation between the Indians and the white conquerors,” notes The Nation, “has now grown into a clash between the northern and southern continents.”
Of course, Chavez was one of the most prominent figures of the Latin American Renaissance. He set a very powerful impulse, and although with his death, Venezuela will no longer be the integration leader in the region, a country dependent on energy exports, but an economic giant like Brazil will hardly turn the Burning Continent off the path set by the Venezuelan commandant.