Back when the Cold War was raging between the East Bloc led by the Soviet Union and the West led by the United States, certain areas of the globe like south-east Asia, Africa and Central and South America were surrogate battlegrounds where forces funded by both sides waged guerilla and outright war against each other for regional supremacy.
Beginning with the elections of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980, the West ratcheted up its involvement both militarily and financially in order to overthrow what were often democratically elected governments that were regarded as being too closely aligned with the Soviet Union. Few British and American troops were in the direct line of fire, but civillians in countries like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mozambique and Angola suffered horribly.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a lot of those proxy wars petered out. They've since been supplanted, of course, by what some commentators have described as a clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim World. While all this has been going on, there's been a resurgence in leftist politics in Latin America in particular led by peasant, labour and indigenous leaders. How governments like those led by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia came about, and how they are faring in this age of global capitalism, is what University of Regina Political Science professor Jeffrey Webber will discuss in the first Coffeehouse Controversies of the winter season at Chapters tonight at 7:30 p.m. The formal title of the talk is The New Latin American Left.
To get you in the mood for a bit of rabble-rousing, here's Bruce Cockburn performing his song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" which was initially inspired by a visit he made to a Guatemalan refugee camp in 1984. (YouTube)