Latin American Policy For Latin America Essay

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Neoliberalism gained prominence in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s, and was organised around promoting laissez-faire principles of the free market (Harvey, 2005, pp.7). In Venezuela, neoliberal supporters Carlos Andrés Pérez and Rafael Caldera implemented widespread privatisation and deregulation, notably of the hydrocarbon industry (Ellner, 2008, pp.92), plus eroded the welfare state and social services (Meltzer, 2009, pp.90), resulting in a socio-economic crisis leaving 54% of Venezuelans in poverty (Muntaner et al., 2006). However, the turn of the 21st century marked a significant transformation for Latin American policy (Escobar, 2010). This came in the form of the ‘Pink Tide’: the election of left-wing governments in opposition to the neoliberal ideology (Enríquez, 2013). The election of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in 1999 spearheaded the anti-neoliberal movement (Orhangazi, 2014). Chávez desired an alternative to neoliberalism falling between ‘savage capitalism’ and ‘failed communism’, with the aim of directly controlling and improving education, healthcare, food supply and other basic needs (Jones, 2008, pp.437), thus coining the ‘Alternative Bolivarian Agenda’, a direct response to Caldera’s neoliberal ‘Agenda Venezuela’ (Meltzer, 2009, pp. 92). The Bolivarian Revolution provided the foundations for an anti-neoliberal social transformation, by implementing nationalisation and participatory democracy (Azzellini, 2010, pp.8-9).

There have been extensive
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