Neoliberalism suffers a series of defeats in Latin America this week
Neoliberalism was first codified into law in Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship. The people of Chile now have the option of kicking it to the curb, once and for all.
The draft constitution that delegates crafted over the past year promises to enshrine a wide range of rights, including universal access to public healthcare, education, and pensions, as well as stronger environmental safeguards and policies to promote gender and racial equity.
Among the draft constitution's 499 articles are provisions that would abolish the senate in favor of a unicameral legislature, codify reproductive rights, require the state to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, and constitutionally recognize for the first time Chile's Indigenous peoples, including through compensation for land dispossession.
There's is no guarantee that it will be approved by the people of Chile. It's not exactly lighting up the poll numbers, but we do know that the current neoliberal constitution is unpopular.
A much more significant and immediate victory over neoliberalism happened in Honduras this week.
Just a few months ago former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández ran a country. This week he sat in a Manhattan court while wearing shackles round his ankles.
US prosecutors have accused Hernández, once seen as a close US ally, of receiving millions of dollars from drug traffickers in exchange for protection from arrest while leading Honduras from 2014 until January of this year.
Outside the court, his lawyer Raymond Colón said that he plans to subpoena Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to vouch for Hernández, who was the first Honduran president to agree to the extradition of drug traffickers from the country.
“Why not? Biden may be busy running the country, but I can’t think of anything that Trump is doing that’s important and I know that Mr Obama is retired, so …” Colón said.
It didn't work for Noriega, but I do wish him success in getting Trump and Obama into court.
That's not the point I'm trying to make though.
What is significant is what has happened to so-called special economic development zones in Honduras since this corrupt POS lost the election.
In a rare display of unanimity, the Honduran Congress voted last month to reverse a controversial law that had facilitated one of the most widely loathed economic projects in this Central American nation.
The law allowed for the creation of special economic development zones, known by the Spanish acronym ZEDEs – semi-autonomous corporate enclaves where investors could govern as though they were independent entities, taking advantage of separate tax schemes, security forces and labour regulations.
While foreign investors and Silicon Valley luminaries had intermittently supported ZEDEs as a driver of economic development, many Hondurans spent years protesting against them, saying the enclaves would displace rural residents while selling off national sovereignty.
The biggest fans of these neoliberal corporate zones has been libertarians from Silicon Valley, fans of cryptocurrencies in particular.
Próspera pitched international investors visions of a beachside libertarian paradise replete with low taxes and crypto-friendly regulation. The zone recently made Bitcoin legal tender and passed legislation facilitating the issuance of Bitcoin bonds. Próspera’s investors include Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen through Pronomos Capital — a VC fund which invests in autonomous city projects.
Approved in 2017, Próspera broke ground in 2020. But early on, it entered into conflict with the neighboring village of Crawfish Rock, home to a historic Garifuna community. Rest of World reported that in the summer of 2019, after Crawfish Rock lost access to running water, Próspera connected the village to its water tank. Villagers said the company proposed unfair pricing, and although Próspera suspended fees during the Covid-19 crisis, it then turned off the taps once it heard the villagers were attempting to restore their old water system.
I think the world will be better off when this latest tech bubble finally bursts and these libertarian a-holes lose their shirts.
Which bring me to the third development in Colombia. We are just weeks away from an election in which for the first time in Colombia's history a hard-right capitalist government won't be elected.
Part of the reason is that Gustavo Petro — who is on track to win according to recent polls — is a former member of the M-19. Petro was not involved in the kidnap of the US ambassador — he was a 19-year-old new recruit at the time — but some of his ideas still reflect his youthful radicalism.
He has vowed not only to upend the country’s investor-friendly economic model but also to rethink key tenets of Washington’s most important strategic alliance in South America, such as the “war on drugs”, a free trade deal and a US-led push to unseat the revolutionary socialist government in next-door Venezuela.
“Never before have Colombians been this open to giving the far left an opportunity to govern,” says Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis. “The left has been working towards this moment for decades. This is their clearest opportunity.”