Tuesday, October 9, 2007

On the 40th anniversary of Che's death

As noted below and in the press, today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia. Che (pictured at right addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 1964) was killed leading what he thought would be a revolution in the heart of Latin America, a revolution brought about by armed struggle. Today, much of what he fought for is again on the table, but this time through peaceful, political means. Bolivia's new government has passed sweeping agrarian reform laws, forced the renegotiation of oil and gas contracts to give the government a larger share of royalties, passed laws on popular participation and social audits of mining and oil projects, and is trying to remake the country through a Constituent Assembly that recognizes the rights -- and communal decision-making processes -- of the country's indigenous groups. Ecuador is embarking on its own Constituent Assembly, with a similarly sweeping agenda, at the end of the month. The question will be whether large landowners, left-out oil multinationals, and their allies in the U.S. will manage to demonize and derail these efforts before they can show concrete results. The history of reform movements in Latin America is filled with aborted attempts (Allende in Chile, Arbenz in Guatemala, etc.) but the huge social movements backing change in both Bolivia and Ecuador may make it harder to turn these latest efforts back.

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