"Mr. Humala is no fan of democracy. ... He was an army captain in command of a military base during Peru's war with the Shining Path guerrillas. There is credible testimony from several families in his zone that men directly under his command tortured and killed peasants, and that he participated in terrorizing and ransacking the business of a storeowner who demanded payment from his soldiers. Many of his closest aides have ties to Vladimiro Montesinos, a jailed racketeer."
Not only are these populist revolutions nationalistic, they are in some cases marked by a not-so-subtle racism. During the "A Day Without Immigrants" boycott-strike here on May Day, the masses marched in Mexico City in what was billed as "A Day Without Gringos." Morales speaks often of the "500 years" of exploitation of indigenous peoples, which would take us back to when Columbus and the Europeans first arrived.
In Ecuador, indigenous peoples who helped oust the last three elected presidents are bedeviling President Alfredo Palacio with strikes and roadblocks for negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States. One demand: expulsion of Occidental Petroleum.
In all these populist uprisings, there seems a common cause: to recapture from the global corporations -- for the benefit of the peasants and poor -- the natural resources of the nation. This is especially true of oil, which is now at $75 a barrel, a run-up in the price of 700 percent since it was going for $10 to $11 a barrel in West Texas in the late 1990s.
To the extent that these populist revolutions and seizures of property spread across the Third World, there is going to be an oil and commodity crisis unlike any we have seen. For whatever one's politics, populists and Marxist regimes, while big on rhetoric, are notoriously incompetent at producing anything. As a wag observed, if the communists ever got control of the Sahara, there would soon be a shortage of sand.
But it does appear we have entered a post-post-Cold War era. Islamic and Latin American radicals are energetically exploiting the democratic elections President Bush demands -- to ride to power and put in place domestic and foreign policies President Bush abhors.
Contrary to Frank ("The End of History") Fukuyama's famous prediction that liberal democracy had won the struggle for the future of mankind, nationalism, religious fundamentalism, anti-capitalism and even good old-fashioned tribalism seem to be making impressive comebacks.