Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Latin America for (lefty) dummies
Democracy: Latin America Leaps Ahead
Change is the rule in today's Latin America. The people demanded a new direction, and dictatorships have given way to democracies. After 20 years of stagnation, economies are taking off, and people are rising out of poverty. Here are stories of change from the bottom up — Latin America shows us the way.
I know I'm always blabbing about obscurish Andean politics and boring the pants off of you. Believe me, I tried and couldn't really get invested in it before I moved down there and made it personal. And my attention still wanders when I read about places like Brazil and Venezuela, that are really more important in the scheme of world affairs but aren't close to my heart. Plus it seems like the only news you see about the region in English are wordy economic analyses or lazy AP reports. So I was excited that this month's Yes! magazine features a shiny special guide to recent developments and newly elected leaders.
For anyone who ever wondered what the real deal is with the so-called rise of the left in South America, beyond the Chavez vs. Bush namecalling headlines that dominate US media. They offer a cool interactive map overview followed by a comprehensive array of articles on hot issues. With easy words and big pretty pictures. And other fun things like quotes, lists, "in their own words" sidebars, art, poetry. But conscientiously researched and reported with a focus on race/gender/class issues and respect for popular culture. Kind of like if your junior high social studies reader got smarter and decided to promote a liberal agenda. You can find it all at your local library, bookseller, or over here on their website. (It's even in Spanish here!)
My only complaint is that this magazine sometimes seems less about educating than providing Inspiration! to middle-class progressive types. (The name alone is nauseating.) For example, their Cuban report telling of the enormous generosity of Cuba's medical work abroad is titled "Health Care for All. Love, Cuba." Whoa. We all like to bust the US government's bubble of propaganda, but give the rose colored glasses a rest there folks. To be fair, this uplifting rhetoric of progress and solidarity is just how the movements are sold at home in Latin America, and so it rings true in that sense. (As does the Cuba-philism.) Indeed, the articles are mainly written by contributing Latino experts in their field - props to the people at Yes! for getting that right.