Nothing pisses off Neo-cons more than South America. First, those godless communists let Che Guevara run around like he owned the place, then they elected Chavez in Venezuela, and now they're letting a woman - of all creatures! - run Argentina.
To an alum of Milton Friedman's Chicago school of economics, the worst thing anyone can do is tell the IMF to go fuck themselves. Seriously, that will get you bumped right off Rumsfeld's Christmas card list. If you, Mr. or Mrs. Leader of South American nation, refuse to deregulate, privatize, and sell out your union leaders, you can take your delicious fruit and shove it where the sun don't shine, say the boys from Chicago.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, wife of Nestor Kirchner, will take her place as Argentina's president this December. In recent television ads, Kirchner has ripped apart the IMF, citing the fact that her husband paid the IMF $9.5 billion, and yet the organization still wields enormous power over Argentina's economic policies.
Argentina was one of the first places where the IMF boys tried to work their magic. Carlos Menem was elected by the public to strengthen the unions and revive Argentina's lost economic nationalism. However, Menem quickly sold out his own people and "pulled a Pinochet," if you will. Nationalism went out the window, and Neo-Conservatism I.e. Corporatism replaced it. Of course, once Argentina switched to a free trade system, everyone magically became middle class and started watching the O.C., right? What do you mean NO?!
No, seriously, most people became horrifically poor and a lot of people self-medicated and/or killed themselves, a pattern to be seen again and again in an area I like to call PIST: the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, etc.
South American people didn't automatically adopt the American way of life once their leaders began selling their nationalized recourses to the private sector. Surprisingly, (at least to the suits in Chicago,) they were sort of pissed that we generationally maimed their culture, which is weird because I thought people normally loved to be told their entire way of life is backwards and wrong.
There have been thousands of dissidents, brave souls unafraid to voice their disdain for the IMF. Many of them are disappeared or killed because of their beliefs, while others are dismissed as fringe radicals, such as Hugo Chavez.
Few people rise to the position of power and influence Hugo Chavez possesses without becoming corrupt, and I don't intend to present Chavez as a saint or martyr. For example, on August 15, 2007 he called for an end to presidential term limits. Now, some argue Chavez put that policy in place to protect himself from a coup. South Americans have been a little touchy about coups since the whole Salvador Allende thing (our bad). Still, I don't like to see any politician in a place of power indefinitely. Unlimited power tends to drive people insane. See: Saddam, Mao, Bush, etc.
However, how badass was it when Chavez pulled out of the IMF and re-nationalized the Orinoco oil belt? Henry Kissinger must have wet his crusty, old-man pants!
Incidentally, that little thing called the Orinoco Bet may push Venezuela ahead of Saudi Arabia in the oil reserves monopoly game, so we should probably all play nice with Mr. Chavez, or figure out a way to run our cars on vegetable oil, very soon.
I don't mean to affiliate myself with the same ignorant asses, who refer to Africa as a country rather than a continent. I am aware South America is not one heartbeat, but rather a rich mixture of philosophies, backgrounds, and desires. However, there does appear to be a certain loyalty to community in South America, a desire to band together and fight for the common good. South America, the pink lower half, enjoys leaning left.
Now more than ever, the world needs South America. No other continent is more familiar with the evilness of an unregulated free trade system, or how to successfully fight the power-hungry neo-conservatives, who put such systems in place.
Keep on truckin', South America, and keep pissing off the right people!