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THE AMERICAS: Governability?



Lexicographical history is an expression of history. Recently one word has become common: in Spanish gobernabilidad, governabilidade in Portuguese. Alejandro Toledo wonders if Peru is governable. Clearly Colombia is not. Throughout Latin America (except Cuba!?) there are terrorists, guerrillas, squatters in the countryside, and violent demonstrations. The Third Summit of the Americas has provided another opportunity to raise the question of governability. There is a good argument against globalization. It has been best made by Ralph Nader, who displays a remarkable command of the facts. However, his statements are totally one sided, and the last presidential elections showed that he has little general support, although he is wildly applauded by student audiences. Rioting students show one aspect of ungovernability, from Mexico to Chile, where highschool students have conducted violent street demonstrations to support their demand for free bus passes.

The Quebec summit provided an opportunity for violent demonstrations in many cities such as Sao Paulo. In Québec there were familiar faces, including José Bové. Again, traveling to Quebec from distant points costs money and involves loss of time. How can the protestors, most of whom are silly expressions of ungovernability, find the time and the money? They love the publicity which TV gives them, the same TV which devotes little time to the proceedings of the summit meeting. TV executives say they give the public wants it wants. True, the public loves violence, but whether that translates into respect for the violent and their "ideas" is doubtful.

Ronald Hilton - 4/21/01


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