International forum: “Understanding the crises of Latin American Left parties”


On Saturday September 3rd, the International Strategy Center hosted an international forum entitled “Understanding the Crisis of Latin American Left Parties”. The purpose of the forum was to explore the actual situation in Latin America past the media distortion and fog and plant the seeds of solidarity actions. After declaring the opening of the forum, Juan Monterrosa Salas, the councilor from the Venezuelan Embassy in Korea that sponsored the forum. In his congratulatory speech, he stated, “this type of event is important because it allows the Korean public to better know and understand the current political landscape of Latin America and what is currently occurring.”

Then Huh Seok-Royl, a sociology professor at Chungbuk National University gave the keynote presentation on “Is this the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America?” He explained that even though the right was successful in taking power or and destabilizing the current progressive government, they are unable to put forward alternatives. That is why it is important that those who have organized revolutionarily for the past 20 years overcome the present crisis. This is the task of not only the Latin American countries being affected but also that of us in building solidarity.

The forum was divided into two parts; the crises of left populist parties (Venezuela and Bolivia) and social democratic left parties(Brazil).  In the case of Brazil, Federico Fuentes, assistant editor of Links Journal for Socialist Renewal, presented on “The Crisis in Brazil and the Impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff”. He explained the situation from the Lula administration to Dilma’s. He emphasized that a conservative Brazilian government would not just be another setback for the Latin America’s left turn, but it would be a big blow to all of us as well.

After lunch, Nancy Astorga and Juan Javier Quino from Bolivia displayed traditional Bolivian dance. The presentations on the crises of left populist parties then continued.

Kim, Eun Joong, an HK professor at the Institute of Latin American Studies of Seoul National University, presented  on “Populist Left in Latin America and Rebuilding the Nation-State”. He explained that the populist left such as Venezuela and Bolivia, people’s demands are shaped through the reestablishment of the nation-state and the two axes of this are the constitution and building hegemony.

Jeong, Ih Na, a HK Professor at Institute of Iberoamerican Studies of Busan University of Foreign Studies, presented on “A Diagnosis and Forecast of the Post-Chavez Maduro Government”. She concluded that the current crisis can be another opportunity if the Venezuelan government stays on the path of revolution.  

The last presentation on the populist left was by Lee, Sang Hyun,  a professor of Spain Central-South America Language and Literature at Chonbuk National University. He showed that Bolivia is currently stable comparing to other Latin American countries since they adopted practical policies and have achieved continuous economic growth.

The last two presentations in the forum were about the US relationship with Latin America and the strategy for social changes in Latin America. Song Dae-Han, a chief editor of World Current Report showed how the US intervened in Latin America through direct support of dictatorships in the past and it evolved to a more sophisticated approach such as supporting NGOs and manipulating the media in his presentation entitled “Exposing the devil: US foreign policy towards Latin America”.  

Federico Fuentes presentation “People’s power and political instruments in Latin America” explained that left forces occupying the old state must help come up with a plan for the overall development of the country and this must be done with as much participation of the people as is possible.  

The last section was an overall discussion. The presenters summarized the prospects for the Latin American left and proposed what kind of solidarity actions are needed in Korea.

“The current crisis Latin America is going through is the crisis of neoliberalism.” The Latin American left keeps fighting at the frontlines against and building alternatives for neoliberalism. The forum concluded with a call for participants to join in future solidarity actions regarding Latin America.