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Latin America

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Introduction President Trump cancelled his attendance at the Summit of the Americas meeting of all the 35 presidents of the region designed to debate and formulate a common policy. Trump delegated Vice President Michael Pence in his place. VP Pence a known nonentity with zero experience and even less knowledge of Latin America – US... Read More
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Introduction Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes... Read More
Introduction Many experts and commentators describe the political process in Latin America as one of ‘alternating right and left governments’. Journalists focus on the abrupt regime changes from democratic to authoritarian; from neo-liberal to progressive programs; and from oligarchs to populists. The financial media present the ‘right’s’ socially regressive policies and strategies as ‘reforms’, a... Read More
Latin America, the Middle East and Ukraine
Introduction: Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”. In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion,... Read More
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Introduction: China and the United States are moving in polar opposite directions: Beijing is rapidly becoming the center of overseas investments in high tech industries, including robotics, nuclear energy and advanced machinery with collaboration from centers of technological excellence, like Germany. In contrast, Washington is pursuing a predatory military pivot to the least productive regions... Read More
Introduction: Amid raging corruption, social pathologies and outright political thuggery, a new gang of vassal regimes has taken-over Latin America. The new rulers are strictly recruited as the protégé’s of US financial and banking institutions. Hence the financial press refers to them as the “new managers” - of Wall Street. The US financial media has... Read More
The role of the class struggle has been the most slighted dynamic dimension of Latin American development. The most influential writers have at best paid passing reference to the class struggle in discussing the capital accumulation process, while the high priests of underdevelopment, dependency and world systems have relegated it to the status of a... Read More
Introduction: Over the past three years Latin American leftist leaders, who presided over heterodox ‘free trade’ and commodity based welfare economies, lost presidential, legislative and municipal elections and referendums or faced impeachment. They fell because they lost competitive elections, not because of US invasions or military coups. These same leftist leaders, who had successfully defeated... Read More
Introduction: Pundits and commentators on the Left and Right are pronouncing ‘the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America’. They cite the recent presidential elections: 1. Argentina, where hard-right Mauricio Macri was elected; 2. Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff has appointed a neo-liberal ‘Chicago Boy’ economist, Joaquin Levy, as Finance Minister and launched an... Read More
Introduction:The post neo-liberal regimes which flourished in five Latin American countries in the first decade of the 21st century were a product of three inter-related historical processes. The breakdown of the neo-liberal development model, which in turn ignited mass popular movements for radical political-economic transformations; the incapacity of the mass movements to produce a viable... Read More
Introduction: Class conflict is always present, endemic, in Latin America. What changes, over time, is the character of the class struggle. By ‘character’ we mean, the principal classes and leaders, who direct in the struggle, set the political agenda and define the parameters of socio-economic changes. What is striking about the class struggle in Latin... Read More
Introduction: Everyone, from political pundits in Washington to the Pope in Rome, including most journalists in the mass media and in the alternative press, have focused on the US moves toward ending the economic blockade of Cuba and gradually opening diplomatic relations. Talk is rife of a ‘major shift’ in US policy toward Latin America... Read More
Numerous prominent progressive US pundits, whose political pronouncements carry great weight in the alternative media, have proclaimed ‘Latin America’s decisive break’ with US domination and have gone on to announce the beginning of a new ‘post-imperial epoch’. “One of the most spectacular developments of this period is occurring in Latin America – For the first... Read More
The complexities of the new political relations in Latin America require that we breakdown what previously was the unified components of anti-imperialist politics. For example in the past, anti-imperialist regimes pursued policies which opposed US military aggression and intervention in Latin America and throughout the third world; opposed foreign investment especially in extractive sectors; and,... Read More
To approach the role of class struggle in a dynamic mitreux we will focus exclusively on Latin America over the past two and a half decades 1990 – 2014, a period of significant changes in economic models, political regimes and class structure. Introduction One looks in vain among the writings of historians and social scientists... Read More
This book “O Canto da Sereia” is a major contribution to the clarification of several important political and scholarly issues. In the first instance the essays critically analyze the new ideological, political and social instruments utilized by ruling classes to undermine the class struggle. Specifically the contributors focus on the ruling classes’ engagement in the... Read More
Introduction: Class struggle is central in framing the issues of political rule, the relations of classes, the economic structures and strategies and the distribution of wealth. Especially in the era of imperialist globalization, the class struggle takes on an internationalcharacter, as multi-national corporations, international financial organizations and imperial states, directly intervene, or act through proxy,... Read More
[Podcast] Professor James Petras of Binghamton University joins us to discuss the prospects for the Latin American economy in a global economy that is increasingly dominated by developing markets and emerging powers like China. We talk about the region’s links to the emerging Asian markets, internal trade, and deepening regional ties in bodies like MERCOSUR... Read More
Introduction: The leading agro-mineral exporting countries, including those engaged with the world’s leading mining and energy multi-national corporations(MNC) are also those characterized as having the most independent and progressive foreign policies. Apparently the primacy of “extractive capitalism” and commodity-export based economies are no longer correlated with ‘neo-colonial’ regimes. It can be argued that the concessions... Read More
Lessons for the US and EU
Introduction: Images of the Past The image of Latin America portrayed by the mass media and held by the educated public is a region of frequent coups, periodical revolutions, perpetual military dictatorships, alternating boom and bust economies and an ever-present International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictating economic policy. In contrast the same opinion makers plus their... Read More
In this paper we criticize contemporary theorizing about imperialism for its economic reductionism and a lack of class analysis and institutional specificity regarding the imperial state. Abstract: In this paper we criticize contemporary theorizing about imperialism for its economic reductionism and a lack of class analysis and institutional specificity regarding the imperial state. In the... Read More
Imperial interventions in civil wars have a devastating effect on countries that last for decades and affect the entire economy and society. One indicator of the long-term consequences of imperial military intervention is the tremendous increase of violent crime, the multiplication of gangs, homicides and general insecurity in Central America. Violence increased far beyond what... Read More
Recent decades have witnessed a worldwide change in social and economic relations, accompanied by a multi- dimensional global crisis and major popular uprisings led by sociopolitical movements. While many critics see in these developments the agency of imperialist exploitation, mainstream development thinking and practice attribute them to the irresistible forces of progressive free market policies.... Read More
Political Power and the World Market :: The twin nemesis of Latin America’s quest for more equitable and dynamic development, US imperial and local oligarchic power have been subject to profound changes over the past decade. New capitalist classes both at home and abroad have redefined Latin America’s relation to world markets, seized opportunities to... Read More
Over the better part of the present decade, Latin American stock markets have boomed. Overseas investors have reaped and repatriated billions in dividends, profits and interest payments. Multi-national corporations have piled into mining, agro-business and related sectors, unimpeded and with virtually no demands by local regions for ‘technological transfers’ and environmental constraints. Latin American regimes,... Read More
Introduction: The electoral victory of center left regimes in at least three Latin American countries, and the search for a new ideological identity to justify their rule, led ideologues and the incumbent presidents to embrace the notion that they represent a new 21st century version of socialism (21cs). Prominent writers, academics and regime spokespeople celebrated... Read More
Stabilization, Growth and Inequality
Latin America’s current relations with the US as well as its present political and economic configuration can best be understood in the context of large scale changes over the past twenty years and the relative stability of the past five years. We will proceed by schematically highlighting the salient features leading to the rise and... Read More
An analysis of the dynamics of capitalist development over the last two decades has been overshadowed by an all too prevalent “globalization” discourse. It appears that much of the Left has bought into this discourse, tacitly accepting globalization as an irresistible fact and that in many ways it is progressive, needing only for the corporate... Read More
The unimpeded growth of Euro-American capitalism following the collapse of Soviet and European communism, the conversion of China and Indochina to state capitalism, and the rise of US backed, free market military dictatorships in Latin America give new impetus to Western empire building, labeled “globalization”. Introduction The unimpeded growth of Euro-American capitalism following the collapse... Read More
The electoral victory of center left regimes in at least three Latin American countries, and the search for a new ideological identity to justify their rule, led ideologues and the incumbent presidents to embrace the notion that they represent a new 21st century version of socialism (21cs). Prominent writers, academics and regime spokespeople celebrated a... Read More
Throughout the world there is an upsurge of regional, ‘sub- national’ movements whose demands range from greater ‘autonomy’ to complete independence. Many analysts have commented on the apparent paradox of increasing global integration of economies and the increasing fragmentation of nation-states. A deeper look at the internal dynamics of regional conflicts and external imperial strategies... Read More
The current world recession and the potential recovery of some countries reveals all the weaknesses of the traditional “export market” – free trade - comparative advantage doctrines. Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent experience of Latin America. The current world recession and the potential recovery of some countries reveals all the weaknesses... Read More
The most striking aspect of the prolonged and deepening world recession/depression is the relative and absolute passivity of the working and middle class in the face of massive job losses, big cuts in wages, health care and pension payments and mounting housing foreclosures. Never in the history of the 20-21st Century has an economic crisis... Read More
The situation of the energy sector in Latin America is determined by both internal and external correlations of political forces, the level of class organization and power within the ruling and the working classes, the condition of the world economy and the strength and weakness of US imperialism. The ‘situation of the energy sector’ refers... Read More
One of the most striking aspect of contemporary US-Latin American relations is the profound divergence between the hopes, expectations and positive image of the Obama regime and the policies, strategies and practices which are being pursued. Many so-called progressive North American commentators and not a few Latin American writers have ignored the most elementary features... Read More
A serious discussion of the perspectives for socialism in Latin America today requires several levels of analysis, moving from world economic conditions, to US-Latin American relations, to their specific impact on Latin America. The analysis must focus on how the economic recession/depression impacts on the changing political-economic systems and the class structures. Finally, within this... Read More
Latin America is entering a period of profound economic recession, financial crises, collapsing stock market quotations, prices, deep devaluation of its currencies, growing unemployment, declining revenues and the prospect of a prolonged socio-economic recession. The economic breakdown, which is still unfolding, affects the entire political spectrum, extending from the far-right Uribe regime in Colombia to... Read More
“Diversity with Inequality is Not Social Justice”
There are two opposing approaches to the analysis of ecological destruction and the emergence of Indian movements in Latin America: the liberal and the Marxist. Introduction The liberal approach emphasizes ‘universal responsibility” for the destruction of the environment – rich and poor, mining companies and miners, factory owners and factory workers, auto manufacturers and drivers,... Read More
Latin American development presents us with a rich array of paradoxes, which befuddle the predictions, prescriptions, and commentaries of writers and academics from the right and left. Abrupt changes and shifts in the political correlation of forces is matched by striking structural continuities. Political advances alternate with sharp reversals as popular movements compete for power... Read More
Movements in Flux and Center-Left Governments in Power
In contrast to North America and Europe, in Latin America political regimes, social movements and ideologies are in constant flux. Within a period of a few years, the political pendulum can swing from a seemingly radical leftist wave, to center-left and even rightwing ascendancy. Likewise major social movements emerge, expand from local or regional power... Read More
Turkey and Latin America have experienced many similar historical and contemporary political processes and socio-economic changes despite significant cultural and historical differences. For example, Turkey is the center of a former empire, an Islamic country and member of NATO – Latin America is none of those. For purposes of this article, I want to focus... Read More
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are passing through a deep process of devolution during the last quarter century of the 20th century. LAC experienced the restoration of pre-national forms of property ownership, the reversal of social relations of production (capital-labor). Introduction Forms of primitive accumulation, characterized by forcible seizure of urban and rural land... Read More
The political and social behavior of the middle class is determined by its class position and interests and the political-economic context, which it confronts. In the context of a right-wing regime, an expanding economy, cheap credits and imports of low-priced consumer goods, the middle class is attracted to the right. In the context of a... Read More
In reality there are four competing blocs of nations in Latin America, contrary to the highly simplistic dualism portrayed by the White House and most of the Left. Introduction Each of these four blocs represents different degrees of accommodation or opposition to US policies and interests. Moreover much depends on how the US defines or... Read More
Overview of 2006. Perspectives for 2007
To understand US-Latin American relations this year and its likely trajectory in 2007 it is obligatory to consider three dimensions: 1) the global context of US-LA relations; 2) internal dynamics of the US and 3) the real practical political-economic consequences of the 2006 elections in Latin America. Introduction: Escalation of Warfare US imperial policy continues... Read More
Numerous writers, journalists, public officials and academics on the Right and Left have noted changes in relations between the US and Latin America. Those on the Right bemoan the ‘end of US hegemony’, the growth of a ‘New Left’, the ‘revival of populism’ and the ‘loss of US influence’. Introduction Those on the Left herald... Read More
The OAS meeting of June 5, 6 and 7 2005 was a historic meeting because it confronted fundamental political, economic and military issues that effect the relationship between the US and Latin America and the Caribbean. Introduction While the media accounts focused on the diplomatic conflicts and polemics between the US and Venezuelan diplomats, there... Read More
The history of US empire-building in Latin America has combined a great deal of political flexibility along with extremely rigid economic principles. Introduction Washington in its political dealings has come to terms, on a grand scale and for over two decades with a great variety of regimes, which to less knowledgeable observers would seem eminently... Read More
The year 2005 marks the signing and implementation of ALCA, acomprehensive political economic agreement which will radically reduce Latin American sovereignty. Introduction ALCA will provide US imperialism with a legal and decision-making framework to determine trade,investment, ownership policies, labor legislation and the nature,cost, form and content of education and health systems. ALCA marks a qualitative... Read More
The sweeping and ill-informed rhetorical excesses about ?civilizational?, ?epochal?, ?global? changes and ?world-historical? century-long projections are at best based on anecdotal selective data, and at worst vacuous emotive ejaculations designed to give prominence to personal opinions. Introduction: An Analytical Framework The practitioners of this style of rhetoric are what I call ?ideological charlatans?. Most of... Read More
James Petras
About James Petras

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

He is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005), co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).

He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.


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