Just finished watching a nice documentary film by Oliver Stone on South America titled South of the Border. You can check it out online here.
These leaders include:
– Hugo Chavez: the president of Venezuala, an ex soldier, who has held his office since 1999. Arguably the most influential leader in South America since Fidel Castro, he has instituted Bolivarianism in his country, introducing socialist reforms, such as: participatory democracy, civil rights for women and indigenous groups, reintroducing wealth from natural resources back into the country, etc. Furthermore, he has been instrumental in setting up the pan-regional Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, and the Bank of the South.
– Evo Morales: president of Bolivia, of indigenous descent, since 2006. Leader of the Movement for Socialism, which aims at giving more power to the country’s indigenous and poor communities by means of land reforms and redistribution of gas wealth. Oh, and something I just learned: In October 2009, Morales was named “World Hero of Mother Earth” by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
– Cristina Fernandez do Kirchner: the female (obviously) president of Argentina since 2007, taking the place of her husband, Nestor Kirchner (who died last year). Both are interviewed in the film.
– Fernando Lugo: president of Paraguay since 2008, and a former Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro. He preaches a liberation theology: which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. It has been described by proponents as “an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor”, and by detractors as Christianized Marxism.
(aside: that reminds me of another liberation theologist, Paul Farmer, an American anthropologist and physician, whose book Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, describes his attempts to eradicate diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS from regions in which the political and social structures contribute to the diseases being widespread among the poor.)
– Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: president of Brazil from 2003 – 2011 (the current president is Dilma Rousseff, the first female president), a founding member of the Worker’s Party (wooo Union Worker!!!)
– Raoul Castro: president of Cuba, and younger brother of Fidel Castro, who has been in power since 2008.
– Rafael Correa: president of Ecuador since 2007, an economist educated in Ecuador, Belgium and the U.S., who in December 2008 declared Ecuador’s national debt illegitimate because it was contracted by corrupt/despotic prior regimes, pledging to fight creditors in international courts, and succeeded in reducing the price of the debt letters and continued paying all the debt.
The rest of the doc briefly mentions things like:
– Simon Bolivar: a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a key role in Hispanic America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire.
– The Union of South American Nations: like the European Union but for all of South America.
– The U.S. and IMF involvement in South America
Anyways, it was a good doc, pretty inspiring in terms of democratic and socialist change.