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United States and "leftist" Latin America

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Dmitry Bobkov) - South America, which has been tightly controlled by the Untied States throughout its recent history, is groping for its own path of economic and political development.

This is understandable, as the hegemony of the "great northern neighbor" brought Latin America little joy, much poverty, and a democracy that only an irredeemable optimist can describe as comprehensive.

The "left" turn is the continent's response to dashed illusions and hopes.

Russian experts on regional problems say the ongoing left turn was foreseeable also for another reason. Nikolai Leonov, a retired lieutenant general of the Foreign Intelligence Service, who had spent years in Latin America and is presently a member of the lower house of Russia's parliament, said the current events were rooted in the Cuban revolution and in the policy and ideology of Fidel Castro, which offered Latin America an alternative to the U.S. variant.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Untied Stated worked very hard to dampen the influence of the Cuban revolution and bring to power in Latin American countries the political forces that worked in the spirit of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine. However, Leonov said the ideologists of the Cuban revolution had inspired quite a few successors. A relevant example is the uprising of radical officers in Peru, which put an end to an age-long rule of pro-American governments, and the rise to power in Panama of General Omar Torrijos, who initiated the struggle for regaining the ownership rights to the Panama Canal.

U.S. interests in Latin America have been hit especially hard in the last few years. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales have taken an especially radical stand regarding the United States.

Washington's headache became worse when Chavez said he would use Russian military equipment instead of American arms. (The U.S. once lost control over Peru for a long time for the same reason.)

President Morales has nationalized the Bolivian oil and gas sector, which dealt a heavy blow to the multinational capital. Moreover, both leaders pose as Castro's successors, which confirms Leonov's analysis.

So, it was no coincidence that the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia signed a tripartite agreement on cooperation and trade in April this year. Venezuela will act as the financial donor in this threesome, whereas Cuba will be responsible for the intellectual aspect.

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are also of strategic importance to the United States. Their leaders, though seemingly more moderate politically, are increasingly often looking toward Europe, China and Russia. Even the defeat of the left forces in the recent elections in Peru was relative, as the left-wing nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala got nearly 45% of the vote. Next on the agenda are the elections in Mexico, where the voters will be influenced by a recent adoption of a tougher U.S. policy regarding illegal immigrants.

At the same time, the left leaning in Latin America is not pushing the continent towards revolutions. Governments adopt laws in strict compliance with respective constitutions, and new leaders come to power through democratic elections, which means that political situation is becoming more stable in Latin America. No conflicts are expected there, provided the pro-American opposition does not get financial support from America.

Even the radical socialism expounded by Chavez is traditional for the region and stems from the ideals of Simon Bolivar, an early 19th century Latin American revolutionary leader, and actually stipulates a capitalist attitude to state development. All the more so, moderate socialists led by Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva advocate democratic values.

In a word, there will be changes but no revolutions in Latin America.

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