Radical movements and initiatives in Latin America – A source of learning for social movements in India

By Abhay ShuklaonMar. 11, 2014inPerspectives

A wide diversity of movements have arisen in Latin America in the last one and half decades, which have seriously challenged neo-liberal policies. It is true that all these countries today remain in the ambit of capitalism, and even progressive, anti-neoliberal regimes have by and large not yet challenged the basic logic of capitalism. However it would be argued here that many of these movements and initiatives contain directions and alternatives, which are highly relevant for India as we seek the way forward for transcending capitalism. These emerging directions include forms of protagonistic democracy (which envisages socialism as a tremendous expansion of real democracy centred on proactive initiative of working people), attempts towards increased producers control over production, new kinds of movements for social control of natural resources and a vision of a socially just and ecologically sustainable civilisation. In this context we may like to critically understand various experiences including the following:

  • Emerging new forms of movements over natural resources (struggles for land by MST in Brazil, mass movements for water rights in Bolivia) and new initiatives for ‘social control of resources’ (natural gas in Bolivia, petroleum in Venezuela)
  • Various forms of protagonistic democracy reflecting new relationships between the state and people’s power (e.g. community councils in Venezuela)
  • Forms of increased producers control over production (numerous workers cooperatives in Argentina, workers co-management and producers cooperatives in Venezuela)
  • Large movements of unemployed people forming alliances with workers struggles (Piqueteros movement in Argentina)
  • Large scale participatory initiatives to ensure people’s access to social services such as health care, education, food security (social missions in Venezuela)
  • Fusion of indigenous people’s movements, including ecological concerns, with movements against neo-liberal policies (Bolivia, Ecuador); posing an alternative vision of a socially cooperative and ecologically sustainable civilization – ‘Buen Vivir’ or living a good life together, in harmony with nature.

The newer type of socio-political movements which have emerged in various countries of Latin America have brought forth certain new forms of struggle, new kinds of demands or new organizational formations. Many of these movements are seeking to transcend capitalism and could help us to envisage new strategies for revolutionary change. To deal with the details of all these movements is not possible in a short article, and large amount of such information is available from various sources. However by way of example, we very briefly discuss below certain specific movements and initiatives in four countries: Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela; we would argue that each of these has significant lessons for progressive movements in India.


A. Landless workers movement (MST) in Brazil

Today, in Third world countries across the globe, land is a key resource which has historically been unequally distributed. Capitalist corporations are now aggressively expanding their control over land with active assistance from the state, in a major form of ‘accumulation by dispossession’. On the other hand, rural toiling people are strongly resisting such land acquisitions through often heroic struggles, of which we have several recent examples in India.

In this context, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil presents an example of an expanding, militant movement which has persistently moved ahead over the last nearly three decades, enabling over one million landless people across the country to collectively ‘occupy’ private or state lands, and through often fierce and prolonged struggles, to gain titles to this land.

Brazilian farm workers – Sebastião Salgado

In Brazil one per cent of farmers own over half of the land. Almost two-thirds of these vast latifundios remain idle while millions go hungry in the favelas (city slums) and tenant farmers pay crippling rents. Enter the MST – the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil – which has been carrying out its own ‘land-reform from below’ for the last 20 years. It identifies these latifundios and occupies them. Under MST occupation, large houses belonging to the landowners can play host to dozens of poor families, who cultivate the land and gradually turn the encampments into settlements replete with co-operative stores, decent housing, and MST schools. The MST is the largest and most successful social movement in Latin America with one million members and has won 81,081 square miles of land. But it has paid a high price – hundreds of its members have been assassinated.

Cutting the Wire: the landless movement of Brazil by Sue Branford and Jan Rocha

Key forms of action by MST are briefly as follows:

MST TACTICS AND STRATEGY

  • Through mass group actions, organizers and militants press the government to redistribute unused productive land to landless workers and farmers.
  • Grassroots activists raise the awareness of landless farmers and workers, explaining their rights under the Constitution, and they coordinate land occupations.
  • National leaders lobby government to improve credit and agriculture support services for family-based farms, as well as to accelerate land reform.
  • Banks and government buildings are occupied to raise awareness of agrarian reform and pressure the government to fulfill its promises of support for poor farmers.
  • National campaigns are conducted to educate the country’s population about the possible effects of free trade accords and downside of genetically modified organisms.
  • International partnerships are established through structures such as the Via Campesina and World Social Forum to share experiences and build a common front against domination by multinational companies.
MST Brazil

Based on gaining such collective control over land, various types of cooperative farming or more collective forms of agricultural production have been initiated in a wide diversity of situations. The attempt has been to replace monoculture and chemical fertilisers with more organic forms of agriculture. MST has organised schools and educational programmes for its members on massive scale, along with ensuring their access to health and other social services. Further, they have been in the forefront of resisting neo-liberal globalisation in form of massive campaigns against FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) and the WTO.

While the MST has critically supported the leftist Workers Party (PT) against right wing contestants during elections, they have maintained a sturdy independence and have generally used the spaces provided by PT administrations to expand their ongoing mass struggles around land rights.

With their slogan of ‘Occupy, Resist, Produce’, the MST presents an example of a large scale and sustained movement which, through its struggles and alternative institutions, has been trying to concretely work towards social control over resources, collective organisation of production in the hands of producers, and access to social services based on popular initiative; despite its problems and contradictions, this may be seen as an unfolding yet deeply inspiring process of struggling for a new kind of society beyond capitalism.

B. Workers factory takeovers and movements of unemployed people (‘Piqueteros’) in Argentina

One major manifestation of capitalist crises is the closing down of enterprises, which leads to massive swelling of the ranks of the ‘army of unemployed’. The capitalist class ruthlessly exercises its monopoly over the means of production to deprive workers of even their uncertain and poorly paid employment.

In India, we have seen large masses of workers being thrown out of employment in the past few decades – the organised textile industry being a prominent example. In this context, it is interesting to see how two related, large scale movements arose in Argentina during its period of crisis – the wave of worker’s occupations of factories and the ‘piquetero’ movement of unemployed workers. It is notable that these movements arose in a country like Argentina, which was regarded as the ‘poster boy’ of neoliberal reforms till the massive crisis erupted in 2001. Worker’s takeovers of factories are of course generally not a new phenomenon, and we have specific examples of such initiatives in the Indian situation also. What is remarkable in the Argentine situation is the emergence of such workers takeovers as a significant movement – with about 200 enterprises involving tens of thousands of producers being taken over by workers particularly since the crisis of 2001. These have overcome major repression and attacks, they developed mutual solidarity and definite linkages with the unemployed people’s movement and other social movements, and are challenging certain basic precepts of property under capitalism.

Referred to as occupied or recuperated factories, worker-run factories, grass-roots cooperatives, factories under worker control, self-organized and self-managed factories or democratic workplaces, the recovered factories of Argentina are a concrete economic alternative to corporate capitalism. The pattern is typical: The owner, after a period of cutting back on worker wages and benefits in order to cut on costs and minimize debt, locks out workers and abandons the property, perhaps filing bankruptcy and liquidating other assets in order to salvage whatever possible. The workers, defending their jobs and livelihood, organize and prepare to occupy the property, opting to get the factory running again, rather than face unemployment. Working together with other organized sectors of the community, the workers gain support from students, unions and members of the unemployed worker’s movement known as piqueteros. Together, they stage demonstrations, camp out on the property and produce literature regarding their struggle. The space is then recovered and production begins. When state forces attempt to evict the workers, the aforementioned groups unite and collectively prevent police entry. The internal organization of the factories is based on horizontalism, direct democracy and autonomy.

The New Resistance in Argentina; Workers Defend “Recovered Factories”, by Yeidy Rosa

Of course individual worker-managed factories today remain subjugated to the larger logic of capitalism, but as argued by Petras and Veltemeyer, these are a form of struggle which if developed as part of a broader movement, can strengthen class cohesion as well as broader social solidarity, can defend employment and can take initial, demonstrative steps towards democratization of the relations of production. Ana Dinerstein notes that in Argentina, a clear distinction is made between the traditional ‘cooperatives’ and the new movements for ‘workers control’, the latter being linked with a wider radical political agenda:

Factory takeovers are seen as part of a wider revolutionary strategy, a wider struggle for socialism, which believes in the demand of workers’ management with state intervention. Unlike co-operatives, direct workers’ management or workers’ control (of production and administration), following the nationalisation of the factory in question, allows, according to this view, the implementation of a ‘non-reformist reform’.

… whereas in the co-operative movement, the co-operative and workers’ self-management are ends in themselves, in the proposal for self-management and workers’ control with demands for state ownership, this is a transitional measure which aims to accompany a wider process of liberation. Whereas in the former case workers’ ‘autonomy’ is limited to the whims of the market, in the latter workers’ control allows the experience of self-management but recognises that there is no possibility of real control unless the capitalist social relations of exploitation are altogether eliminated.

Workers’ Factory Takeovers and the Programme for Self-Managed Work: Towards an ‘Institutionalisation’ of Radical Forms of Non-Governmental Public Action in Argentina – Ana C Dinerstein

Parallel to this has been the large scale movement of unemployed working people (Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados or MTD), including large numbers of women, which has used as its main strategy the blocking or picketing major roads or highways (hence they are called piqueteros) and asking for basic facilities and services as a right, demanding jobs and unemployment benefits, along with building productive community projects.

Riot cops face piqueteros in Argentina.

The piquetero movement consists mainly of former employees of metal, electrical, and oil industries and of transportation (railway) and public sectors, and of laid-off food industry, dock, and other similar workers. The membership does not represent “the new poor,” but, characteristically, has as its predominant element unemployed laborers who come with experience of union campaigns accrued in their previous places of work.

The main form of struggle utilized by the workers and the unemployed pushing their agenda through MTD is the piquete or, literally, road-blocking, exercised to put tangible and quite public pressure on the government in order to obtain from it provision of food supplies and basic necessity items (like mattresses or ceiling construction materials), social policy measures, improvements in the infrastructure, etc.

A Time of Opportunities: The Piquetero Movement and Democratization in Argentina, by Gabriela Bukstein

The slogan of the unemployed workers movement has been for ‘Work, Dignity and Social Change’. Large, participative ‘assemblies’ have been an important form of direct democracy which has emerged in this struggle, combined with the concept of ‘horizontal’ solidarity and coordination across various movements, while avoiding a hierarchical command structure.

Both these movements have significantly receded after the Argentine crisis in 2001-02. However they indicated, in embryonic and nascent form, key directions of the movement towards a new type of socialism – producers control over the production process in the workplace, and protagonistic, participatory democracy in the community towards satisfaction of collective needs. While such movements emerge within the womb of capitalism, if they become key elements of a larger revolutionary process, they have the potential to transcend it.

C. ‘Water war’ in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Aggressively growing corporate control over natural resources like land, water, forests and minerals has been termed ‘accumulation by dispossession’, which is a major form of capital accumulation in the era of neoliberal globalisation. In this context, major struggles over natural resources have been emerging across the globe, in India as well as Latin America. One particularly notable and successful struggle over the key resource of water, has been the massive popular movement against privatisation of water, termed the ‘water war’ in Cochabamba city of Bolivia in 1999-2000.

The setting for this struggle was the privatization of the public service of drinking water in Cochabamba city, with the order to raise water tariffs to the order of 40% to 300%. The multinational company Bechtel was involved in expropriating small suburban systems of drinking water in order to assure its monopoly. The intention was also to give the multinational company control over the water resources of surrounding peasant communities.

From January 2000 onwards, road blockades were organised, and in April 2000 there was a situation in the city resembling a civil war. The movement consisted of city residents who opposed the increase in tariffs, inhabitants of the neighborhoods who resisted losing their smaller water systems, and the peasants and rural communities in surrounding areas who defended their traditional water resources. These various sectors were grouped in the “Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida de Cochabamba” (Coordination for defence of water and life in Cochabamba) which emerged in November 1999. The Coordinadora led a massive popular mobilisation despite repression, which culminated in termination of the contract with Bechtel company and modification in the national law on drinking water.

In the opening months of the year 2000, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia, took to the streets by the thousands. They were protesting the takeover of their city water system by a subsidiary of the U.S. corporate giant Bechtel, and demanding the repeal of a new national water law that threatened to hand Bechtel control over rural water systems. On three separate occasions the people of Cochabamba and their rural neighbors shut down the city with general strikes and road blockades. Bolivia’s president, a former dictator, responded with armed troops and a suspension of constitutional rights. More than one hundred people were wounded. A seventeen-year-old boy, Victor Hugo Daza, was killed. On April 10, 2000, Bechtel officials finally fled the city, the water system was returned to public control, and the water law was repealed. The global legend of the great Cochabamba Water Revolt was born—a powerful modern-day tale of a corporate Goliath slain by a humble David of the Andes.

The Cochabamba Water Revolt and Its Aftermath, by Jim Shultz

Cochabamba’s struggle provides a unique example of broad based popular mobilisation, including both urban and rural people, workers of organised and unorganised sectors, large numbers of women, workers, peasants as well as middle class people, who fought together for a common cause and for some period established ‘parallel power’ in the city. It also raises the question of how such emerging struggles over natural resources – resource politics in the 21st century – needs to be taken to a higher level, with formulation of popular alternatives and forms of collective resource management. As Oscar Olivera, one of the leaders of the Cochabamba struggle has stated:

It is a question of organizing working people, ordinary people … and having them take into their own hands the control, use and ownership of collective and communal wealth. The true opposite of privatization is the social reappropriation of wealth by working-class society itself …

¡Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia by Oscar Olivera (in collaboration with Tom Lewis), Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2004

It would be quite relevant to discuss in the Indian context, ways and forms by which ongoing struggles against corporate control and privatisation of natural resources – water, land, forests, minerals etc. – could be combined with demands for social re-appropriation and socialisation of natural resources.

D. Developing ‘People’s power’ in Venezuela

Venezuela is a country where large scale social experimentation is underway, and I have personally had the opportunity to observe some of these changes, during a visit to that country. Although it would be premature to pass definitive judgment on the changes that are unfolding, some of the processes which are being attempted there do carry invaluable lessons, irrespective of the fate of the ongoing struggle between contrasting social models in that particular country (which remains an open question). Venezuela is presently by no means a socialist country; it has a large private capitalist sector as well as a significant, powerful state bureaucracy and state capitalist sector. Many major struggles and massive transformations in the social, economic and political spheres would be essential to move towards a society which could be termed as ‘socialist’ by any definition. However various social initiatives evolving there do give some indication of the possible directions required to move towards new forms of socialism in the 21st century. Here we may very briefly point out three such key processes –

(a) Protagonist democracy with ‘community councils’ at the core (moving towards ‘political alternatives’): Recognising the serious limitations of traditional parliamentary democracy, in Venezuela significant attempts have been made to enable people to effectively participate in decision making at multiple levels and in various forms. The purpose is to achieve a modification of the orientation of state-society relations, so as to return to the people their legitimate protagonism and to enable their collective power to develop. A key form of protagonist democracy is ‘Community councils’ which are elected neighborhood-based councils, formed by citizen assemblies with each council covering about 200 to 400 families in urban areas, and smaller numbers in rural areas. Community councils oversee local implementation of government programmes and execute development projects based in their communities. Since decisions are taken in the citizens assemblies, these councils enable direct and active, lively participation of ordinary people in taking a wide range of decisions concerning their own community. These councils receive about 30% of the funds for local government, allowing people to collectively implement projects considered as a priority by them. These councils allow citizens to collectively take decisions and implement activities directly, their reliance being reduced on traditional representative forms such as Municipalities. The community councils are quite popular and by 2009 over 30,000 such councils had been formed across Venezuela.

A communal council in the community of Andres Eloy Blanco, state of Zulia.

Further forms of expansion of democracy include referenda under the new Venezuelan constitution, which specifies that in case of any elected official, once half of their term has elapsed, if 20% of registered voters make a request then a referendum can be held andby majority vote, the officials mandate can be revoked. Social audit / control of public services and administration gives citizens the right to ask for accounting of all activities of any public office and allows any individual or group to participate in the audit process. Citizens further have the right to convene citizen assemblies; it is specified that 1% of the voters in a district or municipality can convoke an assembly, and the decisions taken by them would be binding for the officials at the respective level.

(b) Experiments in social economy with workers control and producers cooperatives (moving towards ‘economic alternatives’): Following the ‘Oil strike’ by business interests and the right wing opposition in 2002-03, a number of factories remained shut, with their workers excluded from work. In this situation, some of these factories were taken over by the state, with workers cooperatives involved in re-starting and managing these factories. A small number of factories have initiated ‘co-management’ and some of these factories have ownership divided between the state (51%) and workers cooperatives (49%). Various workers organisations have asked for 100% state ownership with workers control, to avoid the cooperatives becoming another kind of ‘group capitalists’. The degree of actual workers control in the organisation and management of production in these factories tends to vary, with the bureaucracy generally being resistant to genuine control by workers. The principle behind ‘co-management’ (management by workers along with state) has been that the state should represent larger social interests, which would be balanced with workers interests. Although only a few factories in Venezuela presently have some form of workers control, such experiments show the potential for workers to directly manage production and control productive resources, reducing the separation between the producers and the means of production. Further, given the background that Venezuela has a very large unorganized or informal sector, major efforts have been made by the government to support and promote producers cooperatives in various areas of work. In the period since 1998, tens of thousands of cooperatives have emerged across the country. Cooperatives receive preferential loans, training for members, and preference in purchase of their goods and services by the state. Agricultural cooperatives, combined with land reforms have enabled rural people to become organised and get improved productive conditions and returns for their produce. Such cooperatives have enabled working people in the large unorganised sector to become organised and to move towards more collective forms of production, with improved incomes and greater social consciousness. While they have their own limitations and problems, these may be regarded as transitional forms for moving forward from a large unorganised sector under capitalism, potentially in the direction of a socialised economy.

(c) Social missions to deliver a range of essential social services and benefits to people as social rights rather than as commodities (moving towards ‘social alternatives’ based on new forms of social services). These ‘Missions’ are national programmes to ensure delivery of social services and benefits to people as social rights rather than as commodities. Notable among these have been missions in the areas of Health care (Mission Barrio Adentro), Education (Missions Robinson, Ribas and Sucre), Food security (Mission Mercal), Housing (Mission Habitat), Employment generation and economic development (Mission Che Guevara) and Land reform and rural development (Mission Zamora). Many observers have noted the remarkable advances made in making free, good quality primary health care universally available through Mission Barrio Adentro, achievement of universal literacy through the education missions, and provision of low-cost basic food items through a large network of outlets under Mission Mercal. These missions have significantly benefited the working people and contribute to socially organised fulfillment of community needs with active involvement of people themselves.


These are just a few, selected examples of the wide range of movements and socio-political initiatives which have emerged in Latin America in recent years. However, it needs to be recognised that the various ‘Left-of-centre’ regimes which have emerged in many Latin American countries in the last decade or so, have a complex and not untroubled relationship with these movements and initiatives. There is of course a major political spectrum among ‘Left of centre’ governments in Latin America, ranging from regimes that are moderately reforming neo-liberalism in Chile and Argentina, to the late Hugo Chavez and his followers in Venezuela, who have adopted the avowed goal of ‘21st century socialism’. As noted by Benjamin Dangl in his book ‘Dancing with Dynamite’, although these regimes have often responded to the aspirations and demands raised by various movements, several regimes have also frequently sought to contain, co-opt and ‘institutionalise’ them. Entrenched bureaucracies have tended to resist and retard genuine workers control or participatory democracy. Hence as often happens in history, today in many instances ordinary people in Latin America are moving ahead of their governments, and it is to be hoped that the ongoing movements would be precursors of further, much more extensive, radical social-economic-political transformations which could transcend the dominance of globalised capitalism.

While the ongoing movements in Latin America face their own constraints, these do reflect a range of socio-political strategies, some of which might be relevant to the Indian situation with appropriate adaptation. We could critically analyse and learn from these initiatives, of course keeping in mind the distinctive reality of India. It may be argued that the struggle for democracy and the struggle for socialism in the 21st century are closely intertwined; given this context the struggles in Latin America give us a glimpse of how movement could be made towards expansion of participatory democracy along with developing new, more accountable forms of representation. There are also efforts to ensure substantive equality (moving beyond formal political equality) based on producers control over means of production, socialised control of natural resources and universal access to the essentials of life.

Let us try to outline a few cross-cutting themes emerging from the Latin American experiences, which may be more or less relevant in the Indian context:

  1. Development of mass political movements (as in Bolivia during 2000 to 2005) or mass political initiatives (as in Venezuela particularly from 2002-03 onwards) that involve and unite diverse classes and social sections of people around a shared agenda and have a broad, societal nature rather than a sectional or single-class character. The ‘Water war’ and ‘Gas wars’ in Bolivia and the mass upsurge against the coup attempted by capitalist forces in 2002 in Venezuela are classic examples of such mass political initiatives. As is well known, the consciousness of vast masses of people can change radically in a matter of months during such upsurges, overcoming stagnation, silence and apathy of decades.
  2. Frontally challenging key aspects of neoliberal policy in a comprehensive and basic manner has been the main basis for such mass political movements. Two major fronts of struggle have been prominent:
    1. Defending and advancing social entitlements (such as movements against privatisation of education in Chile and Mexico, mass involvement in social missions on health care, education and food security in Venezuela)
    2. Demanding social control over natural resources (petroleum in Venezuela, natural gas in Bolivia) have emerged as some key themes for broad socio-political alliances.
      The historic ‘Water war’ in Cochabamba mentioned earlier combined features of both of these themes; for the rural population it was primarily a question of who would control water resources, and for the urban population the central issue was the right to affordable and adequate water supply in the face of privatisation.
  3. Social inclusion of ethnically marginalised / oppressed sections is seen in most extensive form in Bolivia, where the indigenous people (similar to adivasis in India) form a majority, which had earlier been effectively excluded from political power. In the period since 2005 when MAS (Movement towards Socialism, the broad political formation based on social movements) has come to power, indigenous people have come centre stage in political processes. In Venezuela, large sections of mixed, black and indigenous people have supported the revolutionary process, while being involved in challenging traditional political dominance by whites, who have historically controlled all earlier ruling parties. It is important to note that there is a convergence of exploited classes and oppressed ethnic / racial groups in various forms in many of these movements. This convergence has major relevance for India, given the complex and often mutually reinforcing relationship between class exploitation and caste based oppression in our context.
  4. Challenging imperialism and its economic and military manifestations (specifically US imperialism) has been a key feature of Venezuelan domestic and foreign policy. Bolivia and Ecuador have also distanced themselves politically from the US sphere of influence, and these three countries along with Cuba and others have formed the ‘ALBA’ (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) coalition as an alternative to US based hegemonic alliances.
  5. Reclaiming as well as reorienting the role of the state, not in ‘statist’ form but as an arena of struggle where pro-people forces can intervene and strengthen social entitlements for working people is another common feature we can see in these contexts. In Venezuela the entire range of social missions has led to large scale redistribution in favour of working people, mediated by the state. Increased fiscal capacity of the state to implement welfare measures and deliver social services is substantially based on ‘re-nationalisation’ of petroleum in Venezuela and natural gas in Bolivia.
  6. Challenging the dominant developmental model based on endless expansion of consumption and ecological destruction; this is seen most prominently in countries like Bolivia where the indigenous culture of ‘Buen Vivir’ (living well together and in harmony with nature) is being promoted in contrast to the dominant capitalist culture of ‘consume more and more’. (See Bolivian poster at end of this article)
  7. Deepening democracy and development of new forms of participation is seen most significantly in Venezuela, with both attempts to make representative democracy more accountable (for example through right of recall and referenda) as well as by promotion of direct democracy through community councils, producers cooperatives and workers co-management.
  8. Rebuilding community solidarity of working people lies at the base of many of these socio-political processes. Political mobilisation of a new kind is not just a ‘from above’ phenomenon, but needs to overcome the massive social fragmentation wrought by neoliberalism, while painstakingly rebuilding community solidarity and collective spirit through myriad processes which involve millions of ordinary people across thousands of real communities in urban and rural areas. We can learn from the formation of various types of participatory committees in Venezuela with concrete roles and real powers, especially urban land committees and health committees, followed by emergence of vibrant community councils in tens of thousands of poor neighbourhoods, which have been important spaces for rebuilding community solidarity.

Naturally in the Indian context, we need to analyse our own concrete situation and develop our own strategies, appropriate to the current objective situation as well as social consciousness of our people. However the movements and transformations that are unfolding in Latin America show us today in very real terms, that despite the current dominance of globalised capital, ‘There are alternatives!’ These approaches can definitely give us some direction about how to challenge ‘control by capital’ in the present, and we can start replacing it by genuine ‘control by the working people’ in all spheres of economy and society, and a new kind of relationship with nature, as the basis for a new and qualitatively different world in the future.

References

The following books are some useful general references on recent progressive movements and social initiatives in Latin America:

  • The price of fire: Resource wars and social movements in Bolivia by Benjamin Dangl, AK Press 2007
  • Revolution! South America and the rise of the new left by Nikolas Kozloff, Palgrave Macmillan 2008
  • Dancing with dynamite: Social movements and states in Latin America by Benjamin Dangl, AK Press 2010
  • Monthly Review Vol. 62, No. 3, July-August 2010: Latin America & Twenty first century Socialism by Marta Harnecker, Monthly Review press 2010
  • The New Mole: Paths of the Latin America Left by Emir Sader, LeftWord books 2012
  • Latin America’s turbulent transitions: The future of Twenty first century socialism by Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes, Zed books 2013

Poster from Bolivia with Evo Morales

Indigenous peoples propose to:

  1. End capitalism, because it turns everything into merchandise, dehumanizes people and damages the environment
  2. Renounce war, which is the business of death, and profits rich countries
  3. Promote a world without imperialism or colonialism, which is the cause of inequality and injustice in the world
  4. Ensure water as a right for all living beings, so that it will not be privatized for the benefit of a few
  5. Develop clean and nature friendly energy alternatives, to reduce the greenhouse effect and climate change
  6. Respect Mother Earth, because it is the essence of our culture and not just a natural resource
  7. Ensure that basic services are accessible to all. Health, education, water, communication, transportation and access to information are human rights
  8. Consume what is genuinely necessary, and prioritize the consumption of local production, to overcome the food and energy crisis
  9. Respect the diversity of cultures and economies, because human beings are different and complementary
  10. Live well, to build a just, diverse, inclusive, balanced and harmonious world based on reciprocity and complementarity of people

The author is a Public health physician and Health activist based in Pune. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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