Book Review: Latin America's Turbulent Transition Explores The 'New" Latin America


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The left-leaning leaders of Latin America. Pictured from left to right, Raul Castro (Cuba), Evo Morales, (Bolivia), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Rafael Correa (Ecuador). (Facebook/Latin Americas Turbulent Transitions)
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Latin America’s Turbulent Transition is a well-written and highly informative book for comprehending the “new” Latin America, though it still remains less than complete in a number of important aspects – in part perhaps reflecting the nebulous nature of 21st-Century Socialism itself.
Written more for academic than activist audiences, Turbulent Transitions is a valuable resource, referring to many of the worthwhile books written on the rapidly changing Latin American political landscape. Nevertheless, it neglects important work with a class or Marxist perspective. This may help explain its hesitation to frankly discuss the conflicting class interests and alliances in some of the leading ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas) countries and governments, – Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador – a necessary task for clarifying 21th Century socialism.
The ALBA countries’ turbulent transitions have “shift[ed] the balance of power away from US hegemony and in favor of the popular movements.” They have rejected the neoliberal model in favor of building democratic and socially just societies. The peoples of Latin America are now better organized and more appropriately equipped than at any time in their brutalized history to assert their independence from US manipulation.
The first chapters of the book review the history of Latin America’s struggle against neo-liberalism, leading to the rise of ALBA, which was initiated by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in 2004. These countries are dealt with as the exemplars of 21st Century Socialism.
Somewhat slighted is Cuba’s role in leading the Third World struggle against neoliberalism in the 1980s and 1990s. At least since the time of Castro’s 1979 UN speech as president of the Non-Aligned Movement , he has continued to make a number of important public addresses , on this and related subjects. Castro also wrote The World Economic and Social Crisis (1983). Over the years, Cuba has staged several conferences at the behest of Latin American political movements and for trade union leaders in order for them to coordinate Third World opposition to neoliberalism, all unmentioned in the chapters on the……
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