Mariana De Maio
November 2015 became a key date in the history of Argentina as former president Cristina Fernandez’ party lost the national elections by the narrowest of margins, less than 700,000 votes, to the right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri, ending a twelve-year run of one of the most progressive governments in the history of Argentina. Many analysts argue that large media conglomerates, especially the Clarín Group, played a significant role in the process leading to political change. Macri supporters in the city of Buenos Aires provided some reasons for their decision to vote for Macri and against Daniel Scioli, who ran on Fernandez’ party ticket. Their answers seem to be influenced by a series of fake news (misleading news articles) published by Clarín and La Nación, two leading news organizations in Argentina, during the months before the national elections. These misleading news stories were published in the front pages of those newspapers and at prime time in their affiliate TV and radio stations. Corrections and retractions rarely appeared in the front pages or prime time. Macri voters came to accept the initial news as legitimate and were influenced by them during the 2015 presidential election. Considering the insignificant margin of votes deciding the election, it can be argued that the two news organizations may have been instrumental in shaping the perceptions of just enough voters to swing the results in Macri’s favor. This suggests that dominant mainstream media have had a significant influence on voters’ attitudes and that this may explain in part the election’s outcome.
From Hollywood movies to binge-worthy TV shows, stories of Colombian narcotraficantes waging war against state agents and civilians are profitable narrative devices of our times. But beyond the screen, the history is not as clear-cut or simple. The drug wars in Colombia began years before the cocaine lords launched a crusade against extradition in the mid-1980s. Building upon a long history of military and intelligence cooperation against communism during the Cold War, the US and Colombian governments engaged in a series of diplomatic exchanges during the 1970s to define the best approach to the growing traffic in marijuana and cocaine between the two countries. By the end of the decade, this long process of political accommodation led to the first drug war in the South American nation. Since then, antinarcotics campaigns against producers of illicit crops and the criminal structures that controlled exportation and distribution to the United States and European markets have constituted essential components in the relationship between the two countries. For the last forty years, prohibitionist drug policies and militarized antinarcotics campaigns have systematically interacted with traffickers’ efforts at survival and their ruthless competition for the accumulation of capital, power, and status. As a result of this dynamic, warfare has become the norm in the functioning of the illicit business as well as in the state’s efforts at drug control and repression, making Colombia one of the main theaters of the drug wars in the world.
Giuseppe M. Messina
In Argentina, the provision of health care is divided into three components: a highly decentralized universal public sector, funded from general taxation; a constellation of compulsory collective insurance schemes, financed by contributions withdrawn from the salaries of workers in the formal labor market; and a system of private insurance companies used primarily by the middle and upper classes. Regarding the delivery of medical services, the configuration is mixed, as the weight of public and private providers is roughly equal. This complex structure, which derives from the historical development of particular institutions, produces high costs and unequal access to care according to a person’s geographical residence, occupational status, and purchasing power.
Since the immediate post–World War II era, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has played a leading role in the political, economic, and social lives of Latin Americans. Its role has evolved from the Bretton Woods era of the postwar period, through the era of the Washington Consensus, and into the post-2008 crisis period. However, throughout those times the institution served as the enforcement instrument for orthodox economic policies within the liberal international order. It conditioned emergency lending to countries in economic distress on the implementation of austere economic policies.
The region’s workers consistently bore the costs of the IMF’s prescribed policies. Such policies resulted in fewer public-sector jobs, reductions in welfare state benefits, and increased levels of foreign involvement in national economies. Consequently, the IMF became the subject of frequent labor protests. Workers understood the key role the IMF played in devising the policies that caused them pain and often took steps to resist.
Although the IMF’s effects on the working class are well understood within Latin America, it has not been the subject of sustained historical analysis. To understand the dynamics of the region’s political economy, historians should focus on the IMF to a degree similar to that of economists and political scientists. More specifically, the relationship between the IMF and Latin American workers is ripe for sustained analysis across disciplinary boundaries.