Freedom and Democracy or Hunger and Terror: Neoliberalism and Militarization in Latin America

By Hristov, Jasmin | Social Justice, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

Freedom and Democracy or Hunger and Terror: Neoliberalism and Militarization in Latin America


Hristov, Jasmin, Social Justice


Introduction

IN LATIN AMERICA, THE PROCESS OF CONCENTRATING WEALTH WITH WEALTH AND poverty with poverty began 500 years ago, but it has dramatically accelerated in the last 25 years under neoliberal policies. Latin American countries that followed the free-market prescription and inserted themselves fully into the global economy in the expectation that freedom and democracy would ensue found such promises to be chimera fabricated by the preachers of market liberalization. Real freedom under neoliberalism is enjoyed only by capital. Large sectors of society are denied basic human rights and dignity, while local elites allied with transnational companies have grown stronger, as has the determination to eliminate all remaining barriers to capital's search for resources, cheap labor, and markets. As millions are born, live, and die in the wreckage left by neoliberalism's plunder, the elite version of democracy counsels the hungry to patiently wait for wealth to trickle-down to them. Such democracy offers citizens the freedom to choose whether to spend their income on clean water, medicine, or food, to sell their dignity, or to become an "internal enemy." The promise of democracy by those seeking to maintain their unchallenged privileges translates into increased repression and violence against those who stand up for social justice and the protection of life.

The neoliberal model is based on the assertion that poverty is best alleviated by opening societies to market-based competition, since an unregulated free market promotes economic growth and a democratic and just development process. Most Latin American countries have adopted this model and have experienced it for over two decades. Much evidence now suggests that this economic system produces poverty, aggravates existing poverty and inequality, impedes social development by turning human rights into commodities, and destroys sustainable livelihoods by granting corporations unprecedented rights and freedoms (Hristov, 2004). Fantu Cheru, an independent expert on the effects of structural adjustment policies (SAPs) on human rights, concluded that SAPs--a primary component of the neoliberal agenda--represent a political project of social transformation at the global level that aims to make the world safe for multinational corporations (MNCs). These policies reduce the role of the state in national development, erode the social welfare of the poor, and deny their economic, social, and cultural rights (Singh, 1999). Since it is unresponsive to the needs of the majority, the continued existence of neoliberalism requires a political counterpart capable of suppressing opposition to it. "The modern army of financial capital and corrupt governments advances in the only way it is capable of: destroying" (EZLN, 1998a: 12). This explains the emergence of war not between countries, but within them, waged by states against the poor (the majority of their populations). The weapons in such wars go beyond hunger to include military dimensions.

This article illustrates the coexistence of neoliberalism, militarization, violence, and repression in Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico since 1990. To a large extent, these three countries represent the relationship between economic, political, and military trends in the rest of Latin America. Their common characteristics are governments that are "economic vassals of the U.S." (Petras et al., 2004), "empire-centered" (neoliberal) policies that have greatly impoverished the working majority in each country, and a rich natural resource base (particularly oil). They also have social movements that have demonstrated long-term viability, increasing repression and violence directed by those with economic and political power and sanctioned by the state, and an increasing U.S. military presence. The following analysis is not a series of case studies, but illustrates local expressions of global processes that conceal class struggle and the pursuit of imperial interests. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Freedom and Democracy or Hunger and Terror: Neoliberalism and Militarization in Latin America
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.