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Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope Hardcover – 26 Oct 2006
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"Tariq Ali, the Johnny Depp of international comment, sails out in this little barque ... to assault the top-heavy galleon Washington Consensus, as she labours leaking through the South Seas and the Spanish Main ..."--Spectator"Exuberant and good to read."--London Review of Books
Since 1998, the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela has brought Hugo Chavez to world attention as the foremost challenger of the neoliberal consensus and America foreign policy. While Chavez's radical social-democratic reforms have brought him worldwide acclaim among the poor, he has attracted intense hostility from Venezuelan elites and Western governments. Drawing on first-hand experience of Venezuela and meetings with Chavez, Tariq Ali shows how Chavez's views have polarized Latin America and examines the hostility directed against his administration. Ali discusses the enormous influence of Fidel Castro on both Chavez and Evo Morales, the newly-elected President of Bolivia, and contrasts the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutionary processes. Infused with references to the culture and poetry of South America, "Pirates of the Caribbean" guides us through a world divided between privilege and poverty, a continent that is once again on the march.See all Product description
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Has interesting bits on the western journalists who inhabit this part of the world, along with interesting interviews and speeches in the appendices.
Tariq is unashamedly angry in this book, whilst staying in control to give a damning view of the Washington Consensus and those who support it.
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Mr. Ali discusses how the corporate media has spewn a great amount of disinformation about Presidents Chavez and Morales who should be understood as embodying a mass populist response to the failed policies of neoliberalism. Mr. Ali provides short histories of Venezuela and Bolivia to show how corporate interests in the U.S. have for many decades allied with South American elites to exploit natural resources for profit. However, social movements driven by the continent's extreme conditions of inequality has given impetus to political struggles that have culminated in the free elections of Mr. Chavez and Mr. Morales to office. In fact, Mr. Ali recalls the dramatic story of how the Venezuelan people rallied to the defense of Mr. Chavez during the failed coup attempt of 2002 which was engineered by the Venezuelan oligarchy with the tacit encouragement and support of the U.S. government. Mr. Ali enlivens his narrative with first-hand interviews conducted with Mr. Chavez and others during several visits to the country.
Mr. Ali also visited Cuba to study and reflect upon the significance of that country's longstanding revolution. While acknowledging many faults with the Cuban experience (such as the continued repression of free speech), Mr. Ali contends that Fidel Castro's leadership continues to provide inspiration to others. Specifically, Mr. Castro's dedication to revolutionary principles following the collapse of the USSR has shown that alternatives to globalization are possible. Mr. Ali goes on to discuss the special relationship forged between Mr. Castro, Mr. Chavez and Mr. Morales, including the key role Cuba played in ensuring the survival of the Chavez government when a strike by Venezuelan healthcare professionals and teachers threatened to bring many essential national services to a halt.
A short biography of Simon Bolivar details the revolutionaries' extraordinary life and seeks to show how the mutual support and cooperation between Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela could be a sign that Mr. Bolivar's dream might finally be taking shape in our lifetime. Interestingly, Mr. Ali finds a significant number of characteristics shared between Mr. Bolivar and Mr. Chavez, including a vision of South American unification, an opposition to empire, a recognition of the relationship between economic underdevelopment and national disempowerment, and an underestimation of their leadership skills stemming from their opponent's racist beliefs. While acknowledging the immense challenges that lay ahead, Mr. Ali believes that the socialist ideals championed by Mr. Chavez could help inspire humans around the world to question the status quo and find enduring solutions to violence, economic inequality and environmental destruction.
I highly recommend this throughly readable and fascinating book to everyone.
Latin America, long the "Empire's Backyard" and home to some of the most ruthless exploitation by multinational companies and highly un-democratic institutions such as the WTO and World Bank, have now begun to build powerful popular movements, representing the great majority of the population, to wrest control from these parasites of exploitation their own economies, their own resources, their own production, in short, their own country.
While much of what Ali says may not be new to those familiar with the situation in Latin America, Tariq Ali is never a boring read and there is always something to discover from his writings (for instance, the connection between Simor Bolivar, Marx, and Chavez) even if you are, like me, someone who does like being well-informed of important global events and Latin America in particular.
The appendixes at the end of the book are not to missed as well; the interviews with some of Chavez' advisers about the CIA backed coup of 2003 are fascinating reads.
All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the new politics of Latin America (which I might add, English-language books from a left-wing perspective of Latin America are greatly needed) and would highly-recommend this book to anyone who wants an introduction to the new movements and politics of this often tumultuous region of the world.
Although he devotes many pages, maybe too many?, in demolishing the `Age of Disinformation' and hararranguing, in good old vitriolic New Lefty-style, the sell-outs and waverers from an older generation of activists, it is a worthy introduction to the discussion. Surprisingly, he nods unappogetically at the Castorist regime of the past 40 years, whose overall record on many issues is quite ambiguous and subject to heavy and critical discussions in many circles, both on the Left and Right. Who's sorry now, or is it merely 'revolutionary sentimentality'?
It has become clear to Cuba-watches, and I have been following developments there since the early 1960s while still in my teens, that something significant is underway. Like the Soviet Union after Lenin's death in 1924 and the bitter power-struggle that followed in the party and state, a `New Economic Policy' not only has been enforced but there are worrying signs of accommodation to a capitalist road, following China, by perhaps Ràul Castro and forces in the military brass, and other pro-capitalist restoration forces in Miami and elsewhere, working in tandem with `insiders' to reverse the tide of History.
After viewing the spat between Chavez and Spain's King Juan Carlos on TV last week, where the latter told Chavez to "Shut the f....k up!" with the former replying in the same coin, there can be no doubt whom this young revolutionary army leader's, now President (what for his 3rd term?) hero and role model is: the old dying Leftist Caudillo himself, Fidel Castro.
Go to my review of Richard Gotts Cuba: A New History and Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.