Monday, June 11, 2007

Deflating the Demagogues of Latin America

For 40 years, the bimonthly magazine NACLA Report on the Americas, published by North American Congress on Latin America, has hosted some of the most sober, fair, and eyes-wide-open pieces describing U.S. government and corporate plans for the nations to the south, and the citizen opposition movements for independent action. NACLA staff are not ideological about either side in this scrap, and sometimes have to face the wrath of True Believers from all sides of the political spectrum.

The May-June issue is doubly tasty. The main focal point is a series of articles describing the current anti-illegal-immigrant movement in this country. The wall chart depicting links from Lou Dobbs to Tom Tancredo to vigilante groups is alone worth the price of the issue.

Perhaps more important, the opinion-piece leaders in the opening pages deflate two radical demagogues who sorely need deflating: Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Ortega is taken to task for making the gutted-out Sandinista party almost a de-facto ally of the Catholic Church, due to a strict new anti-abortion position. Chavez's social programs are examined under a microscope, and rejected as being more a platform for a personality cult than a true move toward people power. NACLA will no doubt get plenty of subscription cancellations and nasty letters, which shows they're moving in the right direction. A toast to 40 years of NACLA, and to deflating all ideological heroes. An idol is only useful to paint fake moustaches on.

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