Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Movement Towards a Mixed Economy in Latin America

Council On Hemispheric Affairs
Monday, May 22, 2006


Movement Towards a Mixed Economy in Latin America Quickens as Neoliberalism’s Eternal Verities Begin to Come Undone

Just as the Bush administration’s market liberalization drive seemed to have been reaching its apogee, serious setbacks were registered as the utility of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and various bilateral FTA’s began to be successfully challenged. The Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, acted as if the evolution of economic practice had reached its home port with free trade achieving global ascendancy. Rather than recognizing the historical reality of cyclical development – the relatively brief ascendancy of a specific economic school of thought – the White House, congress and the economic establishment acted out the meretricious belief that unlike the commercial revolution or the physiocrats in 18th century Western Europe, in neoliberalism, economic evolution had had achieved its ultimate destiny.

But such prescriptions did not seem to solve the problems of persistent poverty in the Western rich nations – or substantially lower it in developing ones – and protagonists of NAFTA and other free trade pacts were not able to entirely live up to their claim that unrestricted multilateralism, couched in terms of free trade and Washington Consensus requirements, inevitably produced a win-win situation for all sectors of the population. Rather, the outcome of those economic battles predictably produced winners and losers. The world’s rich nations (and the rich within poor ones) – the winners – were determined to guard the portals of success, and preserve both their dutiful multilateral institutions (like the WTO) and the international lending institutions in their present form.

Skeptics then began to reflect that the rich nations had devised a system in which individual sovereign states would eventually came to defer to multinational corporations, whose legal status would eventually challenge and then triumph over the traditional nation-state. This line of development paralleled the White House and its allies’ conventional wisdom that what was private was incorruptible and must be made to triumph over what was public, which was inherently venal. Beginning with the early Clinton administration, these credal beliefs were identified with such Clinton hemispheric cronies as Argentina’s Carlos Menem, Mexico’s Carlos Salinas, and too many other Latin American presidents. These worthies then staged fixed auctions, wired deals, and rampant instances of corruption that often resulted in the selling off of state assets at no more than 10 cents on the dollar. Now, in the era of Enron and a thousand like cases, including the $25 million dollar bribe by IBM of Argentina’s Central Bank governors during the Menem-era, it became impossible to defend the thesis that private companies were inherently more ethical than their public counterparts.

While it is unclear what direction the present rejection of multinational corporation-driven globalization will take, opponents of neoliberalism would argue that it surely will involve some form of mixed economy, where a logical role for both private and public corporations will be staked out, and other economic structures will be allowed their orbit of responsibility. This is why last minute developments in Ecuador regarding the cancellation of Occidental Petroleum's contract – which signifies a greater move to exert state control over hydrocarbon resources – are so important. These represent, along with developments in Venezuela and Bolivia, a return to an earlier epoch where efforts were made to keep the U.S. fox out of the Latin American chicken house, leading to a struggle – be it in Allende’s Chile or Arbenz’s Guatemala – to reconcile democratic forms in both a nation’s political and economic institutions.


This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns

May 22, 2006

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email

To subscribe to our free press releases, send an email to with "subscribe" as the subject. 1

COHA Report 06.11

Word Count: 550

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news