South American armies sniff a chance for power

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South American armies sniff a chance for power

By Jorge Jorquera

QUITO, Ecuador — On November 18, the 23rd session of the Conference of American Armies (CEA) concluded in La Paz, Bolivia. At an impromptu media conference following the Session, Ecuador's armed forces chief, General Telmo Sandoval, blamed the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) for the bombing on November 17 of an Ecuadoran petrol pipeline.

According to Sandoval, the FARC is a threat to continental stability. While the FARC was not officially on the agenda of the CEA, it was a topic of much informal discussion. By Sandoval's admission, "The armies [of the continent], have to discuss [them], as the FARC has converted itself into a common enemy of high risk".

Since November 18, the Colombian armed forces have been on a maximum alert. This follows the attack by FARC forces on the police headquarters of 13 municipalities of 10 different departments or regions.

From the Colombian military's point of view, the FARC should no longer be allowed the tactical room that the peace negotiations have afforded it. If the government of Colombia and other regional governments are immobilised by the political relationship of forces, their armies are now being prepared to act.

In those countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, where the ability of the ruling classes to rule, never mind initiate reform, is increasingly eroding, the armies of the continent are the seen as the best possibility for capitalist stability.

This situation seems likely to continue. The old Latin American oligarchies that provided some stability have been increasingly marginalised by the managerial elites and the fragile domestic urban capitalists whom neo-liberalism so profited.

These latter forces, heterogenous and even more compromised by their daily reliance on imperialism, are not likely to be able to stabilise social relations, especially in the midst of the growing crisis of neo-liberalism. The only alternative may prove to be army intervention.

Today it is not massive social movements or an organised working class that yet threatens Latin American capitalism, but its own growing political inability to rule. When these movements consolidate determined political leaderships with a project for an alternative popular power, Latin America will once again roar with the possibility of revolution.