This lecture series at the University of Washington evaluated several of the Latin American governments that are challenging the U.S.-led neo-liberal world order, which emerged following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union itself in the years 1989-90. Although all these governments have opposed, to one degree or another, the neo-liberal precepts of unrestricted free trade and foreign investment, privatization of many government activities, and rollbacks in social welfare programs, the origins of these governments and their relationships with the organized labor movements in their countries are in fact quite different. By examining the role of organized labor and working people generally in these regimes, this series took a hard look at the so-called "Leftist" turn in Latin American politics.

These lectures took place during Spring quarter of 2007 and were offered as part of Professor Charles Bergquist's advanced undergraduate course HIST 449: "Issues in Comparative Labor History." We are pleased to be able to present some of the excellent work done by students from the class in response to the lecture series.


Forrest Hylton
New York University

"Re-thinking Revolution and Reaction: Bolivia and Colombia in Historical Context" - April 19th, 2007

This talk compared the revolutionary government of Bolivia to the pro-Bush, neo-liberal regime of Colombia.

Forest Hylton is the author of Evil Hour in Columbia (Verso, 2006), and co-author with Sinclair Thomson of Revolutionary Horizons: Popular Politics in Bolivia (Verso, 2007). He is currently working with Mike Davis on a book about politics and the world’s slums.

 

John French
Duke University

"Brazil's President as Working Class Fox: Lula from Trade Unionism to the Presidency" - April 26th, 2007

This talk explored the popular and trade union origins of Lula’s leadership style. Biven his moderation in office, contemporary observers have tended to regard his “radical” days as irrelevant, despite his enduring appeal to those at the bottom of Brazilian society.

John French in the author of The Brizilian Worker’s ABC: Class Conflict and Alliances in Modern Sao Paulo (University of North Carolina, 1992), and has published widely on labor and the rise of contemporary global politics. He is currently a fellow at the Kellogg Institute where he is finishing a book entitled The Origins of Brazil’s Lula.

 

Steve Ellner
Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela

"Anti-neoliberalism in Venezuela and its Implications for the Labor Movement" - May 3rd, 2007

This talk addressed the argument that Chavez supports Neoliberal measures and strategies while masquerading as an anti-neoliberal--and considered the impact of his policies on the labor movement. Ellner will discuss emerging cooperatives, worker management, distribution of underutilized land, and the nationalization of electricity and telecommunications companies.

Steve Ellner is the author of Venezuela’s Movimiento al Socialismo: From Guerrilla Defeat to Electoral Politics (Duke University, 1998). He is also co-editor of The Latin American Left: From the Fall of Allende to Prestroika (Westview, 1993) and Venezuela: Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an “Exceptional” Democracy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). He is currently finishing a book titled Rethinking Venezuelan Politics: Hugo Chavez and a Revisionist Approach to the Past and Present.

 

Brooke Larson
SUNY Stoney Brook

"Indigenous Movements in Evo's Bolivia - In Search of Roots" - May 10th, 2007

Supposedly buried and forgotten, indigenous radicalism burst onto the Bolivian national stage at the turn of the new millennium. This talk explored key episodes in the underground history of Aymara radicalism and the struggle for solidarity.

Brooke Larson is the author and coeditor of several books including Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810-1910 (Cambridge University, 2004) and Cochabamba, 1550-1900: Colonialism and Agrarian Transformation in Bolivia (Duke University, 1998). Currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, she is working on a new project on Aymara social movements in early 20th century Bolivia.

 

Paul Drake
UC San Diego

"From Revolution to Reform: The Socialists and the Workers' Movement in Chile from Allende to Bachelet" - May 17th, 2007

This talk presented the rise of the Chilean left and labor movement under Socialist President Salvador Allende (1970-73), and their destruction by Augusto Pinochet (1973-90). Drake will then concentrate on the resurgence of the Socialists as reformist members of democratic and neo-liberal governments since 1990, culminating in the current presidency of Michellle Bachelet.

Paul Drake’s many publications include Socialism and Populism in Chile, 1932-1952 (University of Illinois Press, 1996), and Labor Movements and Dictatorships (Johns Hopkins University, 1996). He is currently working on a history of democracy in Latin America.