Category Archive: Roger Burbach Blog Entries

Chilean Student Movement Leads Uprising For Transformation of the Country

New America Media

By Roger Burbach

Chile is becoming a part of the global movement of youth that is transforming the world bit by bit—the Arab Spring, the sit-ins and demonstrations in the Spanish plazas, and the rebellion of youth in London.

Weeks of demonstrations and strikes by Chilean students came to a head August 9, as an estimated 100,000 people poured into the streets of Santiago. Joined by professors and educators, they were demanding a free education for all, from the primary school level to the university.

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Communitarian Socialism in Bolivia

By Roger Burbach

When Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was sworn in to a second term in January, he proclaimed Bolivia a plurinational state that would construct “communitarian socialism.” In an accompanying address, Vice President Álvaro Garcia Linare, envisioned a “socialist horizon” for Bolivia, characterized by “well-being, making the wealth communal, drawing on our heritage . . .” The process “will not be easy, it could take decades, even centuries, but it is clear that the social movements cannot achieve true power without implanting a socialist and communitarian horizon.”[1]

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Chile’s Social Earthquake

By Roger Burbach

Chile is experiencing a social earthquake in the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude quake that struck the country on February 27. “The fault lines of the Chilean Economic Miracle have been exposed,” says Elias Padilla, an anthropology professor at the Academic University of Christian Humanism in Santiago. “The free market, neo-liberal economic model that Chile has followed since the Pinochet dictatorship has feet of mud.”

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Ecuador’s President Correa Faces Off With Indigenous and Social Movements

By Roger Burbach

Quito, Ecuador. Beginning his fourth year as president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa confronts a major challenge from some of the very social actors that propelled him into office. In an address to the country in early January, Correa expressed his ire with a “coming series of conflicts this month, including indigenous mobilizations, workers, media communications, and even a level of the armed forces.”

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Cuba Undertakes Reforms in Midst of Economic Crisis

By Roger Burbach

Carlos picks me up with his dated Soviet-made Lada at the Jose Marti International Airport on a hot sweltering day in Havana. It’s been eight months since I’ve seen him, last January to be precise, when I came to the island on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. “How’s it been?” I ask him as we begin the 20 minute drive to central Havana. With a scowl, he replies: “Not so good, nothing seems to get easier.” He goes on to say that foodstuffs are as difficult as ever to come by, necessitating long waits in line for rationed commodities.

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Obama and Hillary Nix Change in Honduras

By Roger Burbach

The situation in Honduras and Central America is growing increasingly tumultuous with each passing day as deposed President Manuel Zelaya confronts the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti with thousands of partisans mobilizing in the border areas. While Honduran army officers in Washington and the capital of Tegucigalpa issue statements indicating they may accept Zelaya’s return—if the civilian coup leaders concur—military and police units continue to fire on and even murder demonstrators. It is impossible to predict the outcome of this confrontation. But one thing is increasingly clear—the growing conflict represents a failure of the Obama administration to reshape US policy towards Latin America in spite of its early rhetoric towards the leaders of the region.

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Honduran Coup Tries to Halt Advance of Latin American Left

By Roger Burbach

New America Media

The coup against Manuel Zelaya of Honduras represents a last ditch effort by Honduras’ entrenched economic and political interests to stave off the advance of the new left governments that have taken hold in Latin America over the past decade. As Zelaya proclaimed after being forcibly dumped in Costa Rica: “This is a vicious plot planned by elites. The elites only want to keep the country isolated and in extreme poverty.”

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U.S.-Cuba Politics Play Out at OAS Gathering

By Roger Burbach

New America Media

U.S.-Cuba relations are once again front and center as the meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, begins today.

Cuba, expelled from the OAS in 1962 at the height of the Cold War, will not be present at the gathering. But the United States is facing a virtually united front of Latin American nations demanding that Cuba be readmitted. Chilean Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the organization, declares, “I want to be clear: I want Cuba back in the Inter-American system…Cuba is a member of the OAS. Its flag is there.”

The Obama Administration is sending contradictory signals about what it is up to. On April 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be leading the U.S. delegation to Tegucigalpa, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Any effort to admit Cuba into the OAS is really in Cuba’s hands,” referring to past U.S. demands that Cuba change its political system.

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Et Tu Daniel? The Sandinista Revolution Betrayed*

By Roger Burbach

Upon his inauguration as Nicaraguan president in January 2007, Daniel Ortega asserted that his government would represent “the second stage of the Sandinista Revolution.” His election was full of symbolic resonance, coming after 16 years of electoral failures for Ortega and the party he led, the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN). The Sandinistas’ road to power was paved with a series of previously unthinkable pacts with the old somocista and Contra opposition. The FSLN’s pact making began in earnest in 2001, when, in the run-up to that year’s presidential election, Ortega forged an alliance with Arnoldo Alemán, an official during the Somoza regime who had been elected president in 1997.

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Winds of Change Blow Across Cuba

By Roger Burbach

New America Media

Editor’s Note: Cuba celebrated its 50th anniversary of the revolution as a new administration moved into Washington with the promise of change, and as the transition in Cuba’s own government faces inevitable change, much of it percolating up from the people. Roger Burbach is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

HAVANA, Cuba–The Cuban revolution is in a process of transition and transformation as it marks its 50th anniversary. I have visited the country every decade since the revolution’s triumph, and excepting the 60s, I have never experienced the Cuban people more open and discursive about their future. As Rafael Hernandez, the director of the widely read social and cultural journal Temas tells me, “We are rethinking the very nature of society and what socialism means. A discussion is opening up on many fronts over where we are headed, how property is to be defined, what is the role of the market, and how we can achieve greater political participation, particularly among the youth. Within the upper levels of the state and the Communist party there is real resistance to this, but the debate has been joined.”

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