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This work tells that social movements in the Americas, especially in countries like Brazil and Cuba, in the presence of strong centralized governments, have reverted to local and national strategies to combat and defeat new bilateral trade agreements and other local struggles. …
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There are definite trends that social movements in the Americas face, issues that have united them. U.S. imperial aggression have increased, with the expansion of U.S. military bases, the revival of the U.S. Navy’s 4th Fleet, and an increase in covert operations by the U.S. against South American nations like Venezuela and Bolivia. Social movements have had to fight bilateral trade agreements by the U.S. and the EU in individual nations throughout the region. Cities and towns throughout the Americas have been under attack for the exploitation and control (through trade, energy, and security agreements) of natural resources such as land, water, and energy; this has resulted in global warming, as well as other worsening environmental and health impacts.
The most serious impact of the gap left by multinational organizations is the criminalization of social movements. Internal security laws, modeled after the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security department, have been adopted by Latin American governments. In other words, political resistance to neoliberal strategies has been violently repressed, in the form of interrogations, the monitoring of social organizations by national governments, and political assassinations. As Hector de la Cuerva of the Mexican Network Against Free Trade (RMALC) has stated, “The face of neoliberalism is now militarism. In 1996, well before 9/11, Brazil used these kinds of tactics to suppress social movements. On April 17, 1,500 families of landless peasants making up one of these movements, the Movement of the Landless (MST), gathered near the town of Eldorado do Carajas, demanding land reform because in Brazil, only 1% of the population owns 50% of farmable land.3 The police opened fire on the protestors, killing almost two dozen and wounding dozens more. Ever since, the MST has worked for justice for victims of the massacre. One way was declaring April 17 as International Day of Peasant Struggle and by fighting for agrarian reform, equality, justice, and peace for both the landless peasants in Brazil and throughout the world. In Cuba, the situation for social movements is a bit different. The fact that the Cuban government is socialist and shares many of the same values and beliefs as many of the country’s social movements helps the situation for these organizations. Fortunately for Brazil, Cuban-Brazilian relations have been “excellent” in May 2008 and Brazilian President Lula da Silva expressed desire for Brazil to be Cuba’s “number one partner.”4 One of the worst things that could have happen to social movements in Cuba was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, which as political scientist George Zarur has stated, “represented a national catastrophe for Cuba.”5 Up to that point, Cuba’s economy was entirely dependent upon the Soviet Union, which subsidized the Cuban economy between four and six billion dollars per year, making up 20-40 percent of its GNP. It also enjoyed a monopoly for sugar production for
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