Latin American politics is often inaccurately reported in the West. When leaders like Venezuelan President Hugh Chavez rail against the Bush administration, many mainstream journalists simply don’t have the tools to understand it. It doesn’t help that most of them have barely left their offices, let alone discovered non-Western nations.
With a witty book cover portraying Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro (the latter with a halo around his head!), as three pirates that have dared to challenge the United States, Ali sets the tone in the first chapter by noting how most of the international press are failing miserably in reporting elementary facts on important events in the region.
The scant coverage of the recent fraudulent win by right-wing candidate Felipe Calderon, in the Mexican presidential elections, and the false depiction of the April 11, 2002 coup d’état against the Chávez government as a popular revolt, are in Ali’s view, the most notable examples…
n his chapter on Cuba, Ali notes how he met with local writers and intellectuals who asked him what he thought of their revolution. A frank response followed in that he believed it was his generation’s revolution too until “you betrayed us by going to bed with a fat, ugly, bureaucrat named Brezhnev”, referring to Cuba’s defence of the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. Today, however, Ali writes that he and the Cuban revolution are both old and they need each other as it is “love in the time of cholera”.
I was disappointed the book does not attempt to summarise Ali’s thoughts on the changes taking place in the region, in particular, what the future could hold for the populations of Latin America. The poor in Venezuela are undoubtedly benefiting from the Chávez government’s programs, Morales is pushing through policies aimed at regaining national sovereignty and Cuba may (hopefully) carryout further reforms regarding freedom of speech, however, the alliance between the Axis of Hope is still undoubtedly weak.
It’s been a good year for those of us who campaign against US hegemony. US influence in the Middle East is at rock bottom. Likewise in many Latin American countries. Views of the Bush administration in Australia couldn’t be worse.
Bring on 2007.