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Barry Cannon – The Right in Latin America: The Struggle to Reclaim the State

4 Feb 2015

Friday 6th February 4pm – O’Rahilly Building ORB 1.24

The Right in Latin America: The Struggle to Reclaim the State

Barry Cannon, Maynooth University, Ireland

Most studies on the Latin American Right fail to systematically situate its political expression within the wider context of its hegemonic structural power. This project aims to do this by recognising the fundamental class nature of the Right project (Cox and Nilsen, 2013; Harvey, 2005) and incorporating the breadth of its structural power into its analysis (Silva, 2009). The project seeks to answer three simple questions: the extent that the Right’s structural power has been compromised under the current political hegemony of the Left; how discourse and policy options have adapted and changed in response to this; and, how strategy to regain political power has also changed. It concludes, first, that the Right’s structural power has suffered severe blows, most notably in Venezuela, but also in less radical countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and even Brazil. As a result perceptions of threat are heightened as is the sense of urgency to regain state control in these countries, but above all in Venezuela. Second, Right discourse is distancing itself from outright neoliberalism, offering a form of post-Washington Consensus type model of markets plus social programmes. This nevertheless fails to differentiate itself considerably from that on offer from the Left and undervalues issues of inequality. Finally, while no strategic option is off the table, the main thrust is to exploit the weaknesses of the Left governments, while making alliances with opposition parties and movements of whatever persuasion to regain power. Eventually, the Right may do this but more through exhaustion of the Left project than a wholesale endorsement of its own.

Barry Cannon is a lecturer in Politics in Maynooth University, specialising in Latin American politics. He has published books and articles on Venezuela, Central America and state/civil society relations in Left-led Latin America. His most recent article on the Venezuelan opposition was published in Latin American Politics and Society, Winter, 2014.

Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

First Floor - Block B East O'Rahilly Building University College Cork Ireland