January 20, 2017

Political Report #1219 Mexican Environmental Protest: What Does It Mean to Defend Territory in a Repressive Context?

Political Report # 1219

Mexican Environmental Protest: What Does It Mean to Defend Territory in a Repressive Context?

Mexico is going through a violent and repressive period not only because of the well-known assassination of six people and the disappearance of forty-three students at the rural school of Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero in September 2014, but also due to regular attacks on activists, journalists, women and citizens.

January 19, 2017

New LAP Issue! The Legacy of Hugo Chávez

The Legacy of Hugo Chavez

by Daniel Hellinger and Anthony Petros Spanakos

Following his death in March 2013, Hugo Chávez left a significant legacy, but one that is highly contested. It could hardly be any other way given the level of polarization in Venezuela and scholarship about Venezuela. Too often discussion of Chávez paints him and the political movement he led with little subtlety in Manichean or hagiographic terms. The purpose of this special issue is contribute to a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of the Bolivarian project, ranging from democratic innovations to economic experimentation, from alternative economic integration to the role of charisma in revolutionary politics. Contributions include analysis of what it means to be a citizen in a post-neoliberal democracy in Venezuela; the extent to which Chavismo achieved a real redistribution of socio-economic and political power in Venezuela; lessons for other countries dependent upon extraction; what sort of domestic political and economic institutional structures have been developed under Chávez’s government, and how these affect the question of succession and future governability; the sustainability of the Bolivarian project since the decline in oil prices; and the relationship of Venezuela with the United States and other Latin American countries.


Tomas Ocampo, Outreach Coordinator for Latin American Perspectives, interviews issue editors Daniel Hellinger and Anthony Spanakos about LAP issue, "The Legacy of Hugo Chávez," published in January 2017.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast!
Podcast is also available in SPANISH! Listen here. 

You can also listen to past podcasts by clicking here!

Book, Rethinking Latin America

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Rethinking Latin America
Development, Hegemony, and Social Transformation
by Ronaldo P. Munck

In a subtle but powerful reading of the shifting relationships between development, hegemony, and social transformation in post-independence Latin America, Ronaldo Munck argues that Latin American subaltern knowledge makes a genuine contribution to the current search for a social order which is sustainable and equitable.

January 18, 2017

Political Report #1218 13 Million Pages of Declassified CIA Documents Were Just Posted Online

Political Report # 1218

These four computers were previously the only place to access CREST.  Image: Michael Best
13 Million Pages of Declassified CIA Documents Were Just Posted Online

By Jason Koebler, Motherboard

A nonprofit organization, a persistent rabble-rouser, and their pro-bono attorney have succeeded in getting the Central Intelligence Agency to post the full contents of its declassified records database online, meaning it's now possible to access roughly 13 million pages of CIA documents dating back to the beginnings of the Cold War.

Abstract, Oil and the Chávez Legacy

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Oil and the Chávez Legacy
by Daniel Hellinger

In the final 15 years of the Punto Fijo era (1958–1998), as state institutions and socioeconomic conditions deteriorated, the executive class of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. broke free from state control. In his 15 years as president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez reasserted the state’s control over the company and reestablished a fiscal regime that brought the country enormous financial benefits. It is a legacy, however, that has an uncertain future.

January 17, 2017

Book, Political Economy of Brazil

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Political Economy of Brazil
Recent Economic Performance
by Philip Arestis and Alfredo Saad-Filho

This book assesses the performance of the first Lula government (2002-06) from different perspectives including economics, politics, history and social policy. While the focus is on Brazil, it also refers to the experiences of similar countries both for comparative purposes and for evidence of the success or otherwise of this 'new' era for Brazil.

January 16, 2017

Political Report # 1217 Mexico's Climate Migrants Are Already Coming to the United States

By Amy McDermott, Grist

In December 1997, Nadia Flores-Yeffal awoke early in a small town in the state of Guanajuato, in the heart of Mexico. She pulled on her shoes and followed a local guide down a cactus-fringed dirt path, past old adobe houses intermixed with newer construction. They walked for more than an hour, out of the small town where Flores-Yeffal was spending a month to research her senior thesis, until they came to a rocky, snake-infested hill. At the top, she found what she was looking for: the 100-square-foot garden plots where local families farmed their staple crops. The rows of corn and beans were sparse and dry; many of the plots were empty.
"It just looked really bad," Flores-Yeffal remembers.
The town, which sits on the river Lerma, was in the grip of a drought that would extend through the early 2000s, drying up the river and the soil along with it. There was no irrigation, few crops, nothing to eat. "In one day, as many as 30 people left," says Flores-Yeffal, who is now a population scientist at Texas Tech University and an expert on the sociology of migration. In the words of local farmers, Flores-Yeffal says, "It used to rain all of the time, and then all of a sudden it didn't."

Abstract, The Contribution of Hugo Chávez to an Understanding of Post-Neoliberalism

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The Contribution of Hugo Chávez to an Understanding of Post-Neoliberalism
by Anthony Petros Spanakos and Dimitris Pantoulas

When Hugo Chávez was president, he pronounced the death of many things—the constitution, the old “partyarchy,” Venezuela’s “Fourth Republic,” and the Free Trade Area of the Americas, among others. Since his own death in 2013, scholars, activists, and citizens have contributed to a rich discussion of his legacy. Part of that legacy is an understanding of post-neoliberalism that recognizes its competing and contradictory components, some of them seeking to complement, improve, and reverse neoliberal policies or overcome neoliberal logics and others constituting important remnants of neoliberalism.

January 13, 2017

Political Report # 1216

Institutions, Rule of Law, and Civil Rights Deteriorate in Brazil as Government Doubles Down on Failed Economic Policies

By Mark Weisbrot, The Hill

When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in May and removed from office in August, many called it a coup.
The president was not charged with anything that could legitimately be called a crime, and the leaders of the impeachment appeared, in taped conversations, to be getting rid of her in order to cut off a corruption investigation in which they and their political allies were implicated.
Others warned that once starting down this road, further degradation of state institutions and the rule of law would follow. And that's just what has happened, along with some of the political repression that generally accompanies this type of regime change.

Abstract, From System Collapse to Chavista Hegemony The Party Question in Bolivarian Venezuela

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From System Collapse to Chavista Hegemony
The Party Question in Bolivarian Venezuela
by Gabriel Hetland                                                                 

During the 14 years Hugo Chávez was in office, Venezuela’s party system experienced a 180-degree shift. When Chávez was elected in 1998, Venezuela’s party system had collapsed because of a two-decade-long economic-cum-political crisis. His initial appeal was built, in large part, on his antiparty message, a stance that continued through the first half of his time in office. A series of factors, principally the need for a more cohesive organization to combat an intransigent opposition, led to the creation of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party of Venezuela—PSUV) in 2007. The PSUV quickly became Venezuela’s largest party and the linchpin of a new hegemonic system. The contradictions of that system are manifested in the split between the PSUV’s right and left wings, and the hegemony of Chavismo is now in doubt.