Colombia-FARC peace talks: 5 ways the Left lives on in Latin America

If FARC-Colombia peace talks are successful, it would bring to an end one of the world's longest standing conflicts. And it is a reminder of how hardcore leftist political ideology lives on in Latin America, long after the close of the cold war. Here are five lasting examples:


Venezuela has forged the closest ties with Cuba of any country in Latin America under President Hugo Chavez, who has called Fidel Castro a father figure. He also counts Che Guevara and independence leader Simon Bolivar among his mentors and inspiration. Venezuela has propped up the Cuban economy, especially with subsidized oil, while Cuban doctors have manned free health clinics across the poorest neighborhoods of Caracas.

But Venezuela is not Communist. Instead, Mr. Chavez, with his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), speaks of a brand of “21st century socialism.” That includes redistributing oil wealth to the nation’s poor in the form of social programs, and more controversially nationalizing key industries, including food companies and electricity. Chavez just won another six-year term in office. He is the loudest critic of US policy in the region, and has formed alliances with other US critics, such as Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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