Many commentators, both Left and Right, have recently presented Latin America as a continent in revolutionary ferment, and some have fostered the belief that the key question in contemporary Latin politics is guerrilla warfare. But abundant evidence, exists to show that this is not the case. Rather than a period of Latin American revolutionary upsurge, the present phase is one of a continent-wide counter-revolutionary trough, with the usa is on the offensive and developing new forms of imperialist stabilization, and with considerably weakened Left in retreat or seeking accommodation.
Since 1960, the Cuban revolution has remained isolated as the sole social revolution in the hemisphere. This does not mean that the reforms promised in the Alliance for Progress have successfully pre-empted the growth of the Left. On the contrary, basic land tenure and social conditions remain unchanged. Less than 5 per cent of the landowners own over 75 per cent of the usable land; economic growth rates are low, especially in those countries which have exhausted their ‘easy’ development through import substitution (Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil). Some of the more under-industrialized countries (Venezuela, Peru and Colombia) are experiencing moderate industrial growth—but they will soon exhaust the easy development areas, an inevitable result where mass poverty limits the internal market. Social classes are still savagely segregated between riches and poverty. Mobility is nearly non-existent; what little does exist is generally confined to movements between the lower middle class and the middle class. Social inequality and economic stagnation produce repeated interventions by the military as soon as middle class parliamentarians start to lose social control over the masses. Political instability and authoritarian dictatorship are still typical of Latin America in 1966. Finally, the economic, political and military presence of the United States in Latin America remains overwhelming.
This is the context in which the current situation of the Left in Latin
The weakness of the Left does not, however, mean that the Right is structurally strong or stable in Latin America. On the contrary—nowhere in South America has it yet achieved a viable political order and steady economic growth. This paradox is the key to the present phase of counter-revolutionary co-ordination in Latin America. us policy is based on the knowledge that its support is indispensable for the Latin ruling classes to maintain their position in society, since they remain profoundly vulnerable to unpredictable internal pressures. Perceiving this vulnerability, the usa has sought to maximize its advantages in a plan for an Inter-American Army of Intervention, which would transform the quasi-sovereign Latin countries into patent satellites. Isolation of the Cuban revolution through the reinforcement of military political alliances would be by-passed by the creation of a hemispheric military force, with contingents from throughout the continent, capable of
The main differences between us and Latin governments over the question of intervention concern their evaluation of the ability of the Latin elites to resist popular pressures. The us estimate tends to be less optimistic than that of the Latins, hence they seek to transcend national boundaries. Chile and Mexico, for instance, feel strong enough to resist or channel popular pressures and so see no necessity to institutionalize an international armed force which would obliterate all hopes of achieving any ‘independence’. Meanwhile these dissident governments approve of a pragmatic intervention where national elites coordinate their resources with us military forces in suppressing popular movements. us armed forces in Peru, Venezuela and Colombia have for some time been organizing and planning military strategy against national revolutionary movements. But the stronger Latin governments prefer operating on a pragmatic basis, accepting de facto intervention while abstaining from promulgating their dependence on the usa for domestic political reasons. But the usa both by tradition and for international and domestic reasons prefers a legal basis for its intervention. The Dominican invasion made this an urgent necessity for it, and it has pressed ever since for a formal proclamation by the oas of the right of intervention.