August 8, 2008

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the countries of Latin America.

Mart Tarmak, the Estonian Ambassador to Portugal, provides an overview of the region and discusses the meaning of the term “Latin America.” He describes the recent developments in the area, such as women’s rise to power (contrary to the macho image of Latin America), leftist or even populist leftist governments and the revival of the American Indian languages. Tarmak suggests that the latter sphere provides Estonia with an opportunity to consult and help the interested countries: “In the field of development co-operation Estonia could share its

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the countries of Latin America.

Mart Tarmak, the Estonian Ambassador to Portugal, provides an overview of the region and discusses the meaning of the term “Latin America.” He describes the recent developments in the area, such as women’s rise to power (contrary to the macho image of Latin America), leftist or even populist leftist governments and the revival of the American Indian languages. Tarmak suggests that the latter sphere provides Estonia with an opportunity to consult and help the interested countries: “In the field of development co-operation Estonia could share its

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the countries of Latin America.
Mart Tarmak, the Estonian Ambassador to Portugal, provides an overview of the region and discusses the meaning of the term “Latin America.” He describes the recent developments in the area, such as women’s rise to power (contrary to the macho image of Latin America), leftist or even populist leftist governments and the revival of the American Indian languages. Tarmak suggests that the latter sphere provides Estonia with an opportunity to consult and help the interested countries: “In the field of development co-operation Estonia could share its experiences of the transition to the free market economy. Our expertise in information technology is highly-rated and has been applied both in developing and in developed countries. But we should also revise our experiences from the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. How did Estonian become the language of public administration? How did the same process advance in the education system and in the universities? How did Estonian terminology develop? How can you preserve your native language? We could devote some energy and thought to such questions.”
Mart Nutt, a member of the Estonian Parliament, and Rein Tammsaar from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union analyse the anatomy of political populism in Latin America, using the example of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. “Of course, you may laugh at Chavez’s socialist revolution in the 21st century because it lacks both well-grounded ideology and consistency, but such a “visionary hope” mobilises the masses and finds support among the leftist circles also outside Latin America,” they write.
According to Nutt and Tammsaar, the problem of the West vis-a-vis Latin America is the lack of a unified, reliable and justified policy concerning the region as a whole and all individual countries. “[The Western] policy swings from denial and isolation attempts to promotion of co-existence and even direct financial and political support.”
The authors argue that there is a need for a better policy because Latin America is important, even though to a cursory observer here in Estonia it might seem to be a far-away area with problems that are alien to us. Still, in the globalising world, almost everything is closely connected: the processes in Latin America directly affect some of Estonia’s allies and consequently they affect us as well. In addition to that, “the retrogression of democracy in one area of the world inhibits the development of democracy everywhere and that is clearly not in the interests of Estonia.” And finally, as populism is not unknown in Estonia, the authors suggest that Estonia learn from other countries’ mistakes and improve the quality of our own democracy.
Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Centre, writes about the common characteristics of Russia and Latin American countries. Russia has often been compared with Latin America over the last 20 years, although the reasons for comparison have varied: in 1993 many Western observers were afraid that Russia might become a country with frequent coups d’etat and governing huntas. During the 1990s, high inflation and resource-based economy led to such comparisons. Now, similarities can be found in how Russia and some Latin American countries organise their society and political systems – hence the concern that if Russia continues on its current way of development, it might end up undoing its hard-gained progress in the sphere of market economy: “If the Russian elite will preserve the current socio-political model, characterised by social divisions, a weak middle class and civil society as well as practically non-existent opportunities for vertical social mobility, Russia may end up reversing its free market reforms, following
the example of Venezuela and Bolivia who have done so for the same reasons,” Ryabov writes. “Of course, a complete return to the model of socialism, which governed the Soviet Union in the 20th century, is excluded. The ruling elite would not want to be a mere caretaker of the resources that [in case of such a return] would not officially belong to them. But a significant movement in such a direction and the emergence of some kind of temporary semi-Soviet model of society are possible.”
Andres Herkel, a member of the Estonian Parliament, portrays his recent visit to Cuba. He describes the regulation of everyday life and concludes that “Cuba increasingly resembles the Soviet Union of Yuri Andropov and Nikolai Chernenko.” A collapse and changes are unavoidable. According to Herkel, the Cubans will need Western (and especially European) aid to deal with the consequences of those changes: “Cuba needs Europe’s help more than Europeans realise. The problem is that the Americans are more active [in Cuba], but they lack credibility. Europeans are more passive, but their capability to act convincingly and effectively is much higher.”
Mart Laar, a member of the Estonian Parliament and former Prime Minister, analyses Humberto Fontova’s book ..Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots who Idolize Him”. Fontova exposes the revered Che Guevara as a brutal murderer and torturer.
And finally, Riina Kaljurand, the Deputy Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies, reviews William Easterly’s book ..The White Man’s Burden. Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good”.

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