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2008年5月13日 (火)



EDITORIAL: South American politics


Once again, a left-leaning government has taken power in South America. This time it's Paraguay, a country in the very center of the continent. A conservative party ruled the government for 61 years, said to be the longest one-party rule in the world. Fernando Lugo, backed by a coalition of center and center-left parties, won Sunday's presidential election. Lugo is a former Catholic bishop often described as the "bishop for the poor" because of his work with the destitute.



said to be­=~と言われている)destitute=貧困な、貧困者)

Paraguay has a history of accepting Japanese immigrants going back more than 70 years. The production of soya, which was started by Japanese there, has grown to make Paraguay the world's fourth largest exporter of the crop.


However, Paraguay is also a country where a small number of land-owners dominate the farm land, and one-third of the populace is impoverished. Corrupt one-party rule had worked only to maintain the yawning gap between the rich and the poor.


impoverished=貧困に陥った、貧窮化した)(corrupt=不正な、堕落した、賄賂のきく)(yawing gap=うんざりとさせられる格差)

A victorious Lugo said he was heavily influenced by "liberation theology," which teaches that the church should seek to save those who are oppressed. Lugo had been particularly active in working with landless farmers. In 2005, anti-governmental demonstrations propelled him into politics and he left the priesthood.



In his victory speech after winning the presidency, he stressed, "I am neither right wing nor left wing. I just want to keep my promise to the poor." But his political prowess is still untested. We wonder how he is going to overcome the deep-seated culture of nepotism and corruption that has bound the country for so long. We look forward to a fresh new era of politics that responds to the hopes of the people.


nepotism=縁故主義、縁故びいき)(corruption=腐敗)(respond to=~に答える)

Across South America recently, left-wing candidates have invariably ended up winning in elections: Bolivia, Ecuador, and now Paraguay. This trend is a reflection of the governments' mismanagement of their respective economies. These South American governments, under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund, engaged in fiscal austerity and privatization. Although they managed to control inflation, the income gap widened, and public discontent increased.


invariably=変わることなく、例外なく)(fiscal austerity=国庫の緊縮財政)

"Left-wing" is too much of a generic term, and does not accurately describe the various approaches taken by the different governments.

Venezuela has chosen the path of the radical left, espousing anti-Americanism and resource nationalism, but Peru and Brazil have taken more moderate approaches.



What is clear is that American influence is diminishing in the region. Over the years, the United States has worked with South American governments to combat left-wing guerrillas and the trade in narcotics. Yet now, Colombia is the only pro-American government in the region.


The Bush administration sought to put together a free-trade agreement with Colombia, but that idea got dashed due to strong opposition from the Democratic Party. The United States uses an air base in Ecuador, the U.S. foothold in its war against drugs, but U.S. forces are being asked to return the base at the end of next year, and there is no prospect of the lease being renewed.


In contrast to the waning American influence, the sense of regional self-dependence, with Brazil as the driving force, is growing. South America is rich in oil and mineral resources. It is also a major producer of wheat, beef and other food supplies. And China, seeking those resources, is stepping up its diplomatic efforts in the region and increasing its presence.



It was some time ago that South America was called "America's backyard." But now, the region has become a key player in the globalized world economy as a major supplier of resources and food staples. We Japanese ought to be more sensitive to such developments on the other side of the globe.



food staple=食品、食料品)

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 12(IHT/Asahi: May 13,2008)

朝日新聞5月12日号 (英語版 2008年5月13日発行)


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