Received: May 25, 2019
Acceptance: June 5, 2019
The consolidation of conservative projects supported by political and religious actors in Latin America is not a novelty: the continent has seen advances and crises of popular governments, bloody dictatorships, violent speeches and rights expansion processes that are carried out with different intensity and decoupled temporalities in different countries. Heterosexual marriage, parental control over the education of children and the central role of women as the basis of the family structure are at the center of the lines of thought of these conservative projects and lead them to develop concrete actions in the public space, related to the opposition to the laws of sexual education, to the legalization of abortion and the extension of the right to marriage to homosexual people.
The ways of naming this trend are the subject of discussion in this section, since the naming itself is a problem: they are expressions made up of diverse sectors socially and even politically, claiming transformations of varying thickness as the context allows them. The progressive press tends to brand them as traditionalists because they extol the order and memory of pre-modern societies, fascists for their taste for hierarchies and for their fondness for military symbols, and yet they are characterized by the use of technology, the construction of the community based on organizational elements inspired by business management developments and the use of the media and its management.
Based on these ideas, we organized our discussion around three questions, which the authors answered based on the experience of each country.
NOur position can be described by the Hegelian expression about the knowledge that Minerva's owl only takes flight at dusk. It is not yet night. There is even a lot of light, the obfuscation of what happens without waiting for us and the cacophonic shriek of voices that announce a new procession of the powerful. Thus, the force of our interpretations is still very mixed with reactions and bets, in media res. What we still do are relationships ad hoc between specific or general events and fragments of analysis of past times in which "the worst" happened. There is a tendency to take religious conservatives as proxies of "religion" as such and inflate its power to determine events, presenting them as the very embodiment of the threat to "our" liberal and / or democratic values. What many of us have achieved so far was to participate in the antagonistic framework created and, therefore, we continue as actors of the situation.
At issue is the very idea that history has already provided us with templates or templates that will save us the labor of producing a framework of understanding. Let's start by ridding ourselves of the idea of context as a legacy of past experiences and asking ourselves about the specificity of our contemporary situation. We will still have to talk about context, but in two fundamental senses: as a prioritization of the event on the inherited tradition and as part of our own relational location as analysts in that reading of the real. Context is construction open, contestable and relational. It is not a dice, it is not out there.
Second, we need to listen to the situation, speak less and listen with attention and humility to what people say, without losing the perspective that the speech of social agents is not in itself the key to understanding what they do and think. If the idea of context calls our attention to the need to reinforce the link with “what is happening”, there is also no context without reference to broader frameworks of intelligibility: theories, methodologies, narratives and action projects. Here, I believe that more than the terms that the question mobilizes, it is important to incorporate the question of the crisis of democracy as a regime and as a proposal for the management of the social in societies increasingly harassed by the idea of the capitalist market as a measure of all. things.
If we think of the decade between 1970 and 1980, Peru has a reformist military government that, being authoritarian and nationalist, carries out an agrarian reform seriously affecting the oligarchic elites; an educational reform that renews teaching and learning methods, as well as other measures of a different nature that reinforced its dictatorial character, such as the expropriation of the press and the control of free expression, expelling journalists from the country, and the dismissal of thousands of workers as a result of a strike, which accompanied by the economic crisis that was beginning hastened the change of regime towards democracy.
This was a time when the Catholic Church in Peru was putting down new roots in its relationship with the poor in the countryside and cities, who were in an accelerated process of urbanization. Living with the new inhabitants of what they called Young Villages, they shared their struggles and dreams. By participating as settlers, they contributed to improving the living conditions of the new inhabitants of the slums, often in relation to other churches and social organizations, including
the political parties, which together strengthened a civil society capable of resisting the regime's controlist measures and taking advantage of the spaces for change that were opening up. This time was very marked by the practice of the Christian base communities, by the theology of liberation, the option for the poor, the popular leadership that respects the social, cultural and political identities of citizens of all social conditions, and more. forward for human rights. Economic problems were faced when there were massive layoffs and common pots were made, and in a more stable way popular soup kitchens were formed to fight against hunger and poverty caused by unemployment and inflation, at the initiative of secular citizens, in solidarity.
Looking at the democratic time that opens in 1980 with the elections, and the possibilities of doing politics, in Peru several factors have coincided that contributed to generating a context in which the conservative forces, who until today consider the military government on the side of the movements that promote human and citizen rights, began to be more present in different ways.
Analyzing the economy, the 1980 crisis that hit Latin America affects Peru since the government, between 1980 and 1985, of Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who managed to negotiate the crisis, which was not the same with the policies of Alan García (1985-1990 ), which unleashed a hyperinflation consisting of maxi-devaluations of the exchange rate and a maxi-increase in public prices (Dancourt, 1995), with tremendous consequences for the population.
The government that followed was that of Alberto Fujimori, whose election led to the practical disappearance of the political parties in 1990 by defeating Mario Vargas Llosa in the second round elections, with his Democratic Front party, which led the first round but not with enough votes to be elected, and apra, which came in third place.
Fujimori closed Congress after two years of government, and forced by the oea called for new elections for a Democratic Constituent Congress. He dedicated himself to charity work to get closer to the popular masses who had elected him, had the support of the army and managed to be reelected as president in 1995 against Javier Pérez de Cuellar, former Secretary General of the United Nations, backed by a center-left party, and Then in 2000, in elections highly questioned by the opposition, amid political scandals and corruption, they led to the resignation of Fujimori from outside the country, thus beginning the transition to a new government.
In the first election, Fujimori had Carlos García y García, pastor of the Baptist church, as his first vice president and with the support of other evangelical churches that trusted him. But after the closing of the Congress, García y García distanced themselves, along with other evangelicals. Later he has had the support of other more conservative groups that seek to gain power to expand their churches and achieve religious equality, as well as the defense of the family and life. Its closeness to apra It is also notable, and they have formed their own political parties, such as Pastor Lay, who after being part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has been a candidate and elected as a congressman and is a member of the Restoration Party that has supported him in his presidential candidacy.
Fujimori also had a very close relationship with Monsignor Juan Luis Cipriani while he was archbishop of Ayacucho, the center of the Shining Path leadership and its attacks on the civilian population, where there were many human rights violations.
In Chile, the evangelical world, mainly in its Protestant line, began to participate in politics in the last quarter of the century xix in liberal and radical parties. This participation resumed in the 1930s, when Pentecostals were gradually being integrated, although they did not manage to reach the level of deputies, but they did form part of unions and municipal and regional governments, both by popular election and by positions of trust. In contrast, Protestant evangelicals (Anglicans and Lutherans) manage to elect several deputies in center-left parties. This evangelical-political relationship, in its link with the center-left, lasted until 1973 (Mansilla and Orellana, 2018), a relationship that was broken with the emergence of the dictatorship, but this rupture began in the 1960s.
The evangelical-left crisis came from the center-left itself. This questioned the social legitimacy of evangelicals in their relationship with the popular sectors and also their political commitment to the national and Latin American as shown by Catholicism from Vatican II and Liberation Theology. Their ties to the United States were questioned when the United States approached the Chilean Pentecostal world, which had always been economically and ideologically independent, to offer them humanitarian aid. There was a commodification of solidarity with the creation of Evangelical Social Assistance (grab), commercialized in 1958 by the Church World Service, was instrumentalized by the US government through the Alliance for Progress program (d'Epinay, 1968). This instrumentalization became very visible during the mega-earthquake that southern Chile suffered in the 1960s.
This is how both Catholic priests and left-wing intellectuals highlighted the commodification of solidarity and the real danger of constituting a USA as the "model of society". Along with that, the arrival of the American evangelists was also made visible, prophesying about the danger of the Marxist ghost, which encouraged us to follow the capitalist model of the United States. They divided the world in two: the political left that belonged to the devil, and USA that he was on God's side. In this religious-political apologism they denied that there were political and economic intentions. Nor did they use the word capitalism. This "religious cold war" divided the evangelical world into, at the very least, the canny (conservative) evangelicals and the naive, self-proclaimed apolitical, who saw a model of God in the society of USA and, on the other hand, the progressives and ecumenicals, where Liberation Theology and the World Council of Churches were. They urged Latin American Christians to free themselves from the bosses and imperialist yokes. However, the former had the support of the bosses (military, businessmen and politicians), while the latter, ecstatic with the liberation of the boss and having as imaginary the arrival of the kingdom of heaven on earth for the benefit of the poor. They believed that the national economic and political leaders would support their millennial utopia and hopes of the oppressed, but eventually they overcame the millennialism of the oppressors.
For the Colombian case, the inclination of the balance of powers towards authoritarian, xenophobic, homophobic, racist, discriminating and patriarchal regimes that has been verified on the planet and specifically in Latin America during the last decades, constitutes not a change or an emergency. , but an expression of the current hegemony. And while many people see with optimism the advance of support for certain divergent proposals (the increase in voters for non-traditional political parties and certain constitutional demands on the part of women, ethnic or sexual minorities), it is also clear that the victories of Authoritarian initiatives have received more and more support and that their scope, their strength and the social passion that characterizes them are increasingly radical. This has led to greater polarization and a more tense society, despite and precisely in connection with the conversations held in Havana and ended with the so-called “Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace”.1
Several facts show us this tension and the triumphs of the sectors whose characteristics I have already mentioned, and which for convenience I will call the ultra-right from now on. As an example, let us mention four emblematic events: the plebiscite for peace, the presidential elections, the consultation against corruption and the continuity of socio-political violence expressed in the increase in the murders of social leaders and human rights defenders.
The plebiscite was the mechanism chosen by the Santos government to endorse the agreements made in the long and conscientious conversations with the farc in Havana for about six years. The result of this plebiscite, which surprised the government and thousands of observers worldwide, was 50,21% against the agreement and 49,79% in favor. The opposition, led by the ultra-right sectors, achieved this victory, although by very few votes,2 through a campaign of a religious nature centered on assertions that the agreements contained the so-called “gender ideology”, that the country was being handed over to “Castro-Chavista” atheist communism and that the criminals would not receive the punishment they deserved.
The 2018 presidential elections showed in the first round a majority sector inclined in favor of the implementation of the peace accords, the fight against corruption and the adoption of measures favorable to greater social equity.3 However, for the second round, the sectors of the elite preferred to ratify their membership in the hegemonic bloc, linking themselves to the far-right candidate, until before the unknown elections, than to support the candidacy of Gustavo Petro. The arguments of the “Castro-Chavismo”, an atheist ex-guerrilla, a threat against property and the family, moved strongly and led to the well-known results.4 Some liberal sectors also promoted a plebiscite consultation based on the institutionalist affirmation that the country is in bad shape because its entities have been co-opted or subjected to corruption, and of course the national and international scandals feed this argument devastatingly. However, the plebiscite, despite receiving support in votes much higher than the votes with which the president was elected, did not achieve the necessary ones in accordance with the provisions of the laws. What is interesting for our analysis is that the proposal did not have the support of the leadership of the churches, neither the Catholic nor of other confessions, despite the obvious ethical argument behind it. Said non-endorsement was due, among other reasons, to the fact that the person at the forefront of the proposal was a lesbian.
A similar silence is produced around the systematic massacre of social leaders and human rights defenders, which has intensified after the signing of the peace accords. This fact, on the one hand, makes clear the relationship with the treacherous history of the peace accords in the country, the most recent expression of which was the murder of more than five thousand people who were linked to the party. up following the ceasefire agreements established in March 1984 between the government of Belisario Betancurt and the farc, and on the other hand it clearly shows the true dimensions and intentions of the war that has been fought, not only in Colombia but on a planetary scale, against the peoples and defenseless populations (Lozano, 2018)5 by complex financial and extractivist interests.
ANDn November 2009, the cover of the magazine The Economist it made explicit the world's enthusiasm for Brazil. In economic terms, after the distrust of some with the inclusion of the country as one of the brics, the decision was right. In addition to the average growth of the GDP of 5% a year, stated one of the magazine's reports, Brazil stood out in the bloc: “Unlike China, it is a democracy. Unlike India, it has no insurgents, religious or ethnic conflicts, or hostile neighbors. Unlike Russia, it exports more than oil and weapons and treats foreign investors with respect. " The enthusiasm was not just foreign. In the country there was a generalized recognition of the massive change in the consumption capacity of the lower classes and the indicators of poverty and infant mortality reached numbers never before reached. At the end of the first decade of the century xxiIt seemed that Brazil would finally stop being the country of the future to become a reality of the present.
In this scenario, Lula, a former union leader who held leading positions in Brazilian politics since the 1980s, appointed Dilma Rousseff as successor to the presidency of the Republic, elected for two consecutive terms, in 2010 and 2014. Dilma , a figure much more technical than political, would have the opportunity to further expand the country's visibility on the international stage. In addition, it had the opportunity to host three of the main mega-events in the world: World Youth Day, in 2013; the Soccer World Cup, in 2014 and the Olympics, in 2016.
However, the “Brazil guideline” had to be advanced in the world news. In June 2013, a series of protests, initially against the increase in the price of bus tickets, took on unexpected proportions. In the period of a month, the sequence of five demonstrations in different cities of the country brought millions of people out onto the streets. The slogans were vague. What began with the price of public transport ended up gathering the most varied demands, from the demand for political reform to the democratization of the media. It was the sign of a diffuse and generalized discontent that in one of its last acts turned against the political class and, symbolically and literally, led a crowd to occupy the front of the National Congress and other emblematic buildings of the federal administration, in Brasilia.
In 2013 the town found itself on the streets. In the years that followed, the crowd divided and took up both sides of the road. Public debates became polarized, political disputes divided the country, Lula is in prison, Dilma suffered impeachment and the country plunged into a crisis from which it is still trying to emerge.
The interpretation of the sequence and relevance of each of these events varies a lot, but two aspects seem to have some consensus. In the first place, the key elements to understand the Brazil of 2019 lie in the political and social transformations that the country experienced since 2001, when Lula was elected president. That is to say, what is at stake is a story whose characters are not only active and starring in different attacks, but also the narrative about how that intense and brief process of rise and decline of the country took place. The second aspect is that June 2013 was a turning point in the public life of the nation. The new actors entered the scene at that moment and contributed to the conformation of the polarized framework that would stabilize and that would go on to serve as a metric of the reading of the political position of each one. It was from that moment that, in the dispute over the narrative of the recent history of the country, the vocabulary of analysis and of the contest incorporated as frequent words "right", "conservatism", "fascism" and "fundamentalism".
The historical and social context that nourishes the emergence of conservative expressions is that of uncertainty. On the one hand, we are experiencing the collapse of neoliberalism, as a neighboring country of the most powerful nation in the world. If the Berlin Wall fell with the crisis of socialism, the crisis of neoliberalism seeks to sustain itself by building a wall that divides the United States and Latin America. President Donald Trump has insisted on walling off the fears produced by the exodus of societies that have been plundered by the global market. The metaphor of the wall multiplies in the territory, in politics, in private subdivisions, in places of exclusivity, in the language of otherness. The wall is a way of living protected from the other and from the outside. It is a way of not recognizing weaknesses or facing internal risks and of spreading fears towards others, those who can be exterminated. This is undoubtedly the principle of fascist rationalities. The wall is also part of what defines Mexico and what it reproduces in its relationship with Central America and its indigenous populations.
On the other hand, we are experiencing the erosion of modern democracies. In Mexico, violence and with it insecurity have grown unprecedentedly. In addition to the robberies, charges for "the square", extortion, express kidnappings and the disappeared, daily we read chilling news about the discovery of clandestine graves where thousands of people were buried, of whom nothing is known. In Mexico, the vernacular song is honored: "life is worth nothing." Criminal societies (for which "narco" is already very small) constantly put the State in check and keep civil society a prisoner of its power (for example, the theft of gasoline known as "guachicoleo"). This situation of generalized insecurity is explained as an effect of corruption and impunity, and therefore demands justice, punishment and a heavy hand. It encourages sectors of the right that express the devaluation of human rights. On the other hand, a large part of society supports the new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a politician trained in the authoritarianism of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, who implements leftist speeches with conservative Christian dogmas, and who constantly seeks to implement national projects devaluing democratic procedures and consensus building. The urgency to straighten out the country allows institutions and democracy to weaken, and this can lead to a new authoritarian state that strengthens the presence of the army in all areas and reduces the participation of civil society.
The last decades have accumulated events that, if isolated, did not seem to point in the direction of a conservative backlash, on the other hand produced a persistent erosion of the frameworks on which the Latin American postwar and post-dictatorship order was built. The advance of pluralization, with its inevitable impact on representations and practices of the nation, cultural (and religious) identity, collective identities and family ties, occurred in the midst of an accumulation of forces that the democratizing moment allowed. Conservative forces went on the defensive. But the social is relationship, rather than closed structure. And the translation of the democratizing and pluralizing aspirations into platforms of governments and movements occurred incompletely: too much was negotiated with the enemy and the well-known strategy of the accumulation of forces for small and large attacks was allowed.
In Brazil, under the sign of the perverse confluence between the demands for an expanded public sphere from the state to the non-state and the discourse of market freedom, enterprising, competitive forms of spirituality arose, adverse to the syncretic pact built by Catholicism. Pentecostalism is the most popular and articulate form of these spiritualities. But Pentecostalism itself was more of a locus that a matrix of that confluence in the religious field, with direct reflections in the political. What began as the Brazilian Pentecostal “minoritization” of the 1980s did not lead in a linear fashion to the current assemblage of
neoliberalism, political authoritarianism and moral conservatism. There were internal disputes and the most reactionary tendencies won out. But similar things have also happened with Catholicism, historical Protestantism, and spiritism.
Since we have talked about the context in which conservatism arises, we have to explain what we understand by political and religious conservatism, and how it is present in the State and in society.
I take a first central idea from Alberto Vergara's book, which is called Citizens without a Republic. From institutional precariousness to political collapse (2018: 14-15) to explain that it would differentiate two great political visions of the country: “hortelanismo” (taken from the “dog in the manger, who neither eats nor lets eat”) and “republicanism”. The first vision is developed by Alan García, the second by Valentín Paniagua, the president of the transition in 2001, and they do so from “the apex of power”, as presidents of the Republic. The objectives of "hortelanismo", for García, are centered on the modernization of the country through private investment, against citizens who delay the country, and in the open economy. Those of "republicanism", for Paniagua, are summarized in "the self-government and legitimacy of public policy", and include loyalty to the Constitution, the need to reinstitutionalize the country, and "that no one feels excluded" (Vergara, 2018 : fifteen).
If, as Javier Iguíñiz (interviewee) says “we understand by neoliberalism political authoritarianism combined with economic liberalism”, conservatism in Peru does not have a strictly liberal connotation. The mercantilist character in the economy and the rentism that characterizes it is combined with the aforementioned authoritarianism in politics and the capture of the State. In this context, conservatism in politics, related to commercialism in economics, is therefore not expressed in terms of fascism, that is, in economic nationalism, because markets continue to open up to foreign competition, without For this reason, leave the close association of companies and the State. And on the political side, democracy resists authoritarian attempts by political leaders and widespread corruption.
The following governments after Fujimori (Toledo, García, Humala and Kuczynski), already in 2001, despite the reforms of the brief transitional government of Valentín Paniagua, managed to maintain the democratic alternation for the first time in two centuries of Republic in Peru (In 2017 Kuczynski resigned under pressure from Congress and was replaced by his vice president Martín Vizcarra). We are still in a situation in which there is great weakness in democratic institutions and leaderships, with the consequent expansion of corruption and the continuation of the power of companies over the State. Therefore, it does not become a situation whereby democracy becomes a dictatorship and neither one in which the opening of the market to imports and foreign investment leads to the disappearance of mercantilism and the increase of economic competition under rules. From the market.
Conservatists have a weak presence in Peru, but their resistance to the existence of personal freedoms in fields such as the family, reproductive health and other demands that are promoted by citizens and by the international organizations of the United Nations is important.
PIn the case of Chile, only middle-class evangelicals, who were very scarce (while the vast majority were in poverty), made common cause with ecumenism, while the vast majority went after the "bread and fish" delivered and promised by American churches. But to do so, they had to get away from the socialist “class brother”, because for the preachers and evangelists, influenced by McCarthyism, it was the serpent that would finally take over Chile and transform the temples into taverns and brothels. Faced with that fear and that threat, the evangelical pastors called their parishioners to move away from the left, from the unions and from all popular and neighborhood organizations. However, the "bread and fish" were only the bait, since what mattered was to deprive evangelicals of their ideological autonomy and make them dependent on the conservative and capitalist American religious ideology through literature, bibles and hymnals. It was what finally captivated evangelicals, not only Chileans but also Latin Americans. Today evangelicals do not even produce their own songs: everything is imported from USA and globalization helps a lot to do this. Latin preachers and psalmists, to achieve success, emigrate to the United States and from there they preach, sing and prophesy the neoliberal capitalist dream.
On the other hand, sectors of the left, instead of approaching the evangelical world, accused it and took out publications delegitimizing the popular role of the evangelical pastor. They criticized and despised their sacred symbols. Then the evangelicals wondered, if they are like this in a democracy, how much more in a Marxist government? Fear that increased with the arrival of the Allende government, which increased the iconoclasm and secularization of the left, distancing and excluding the evangelical world, once a classmate, now considered "the religious arm of the Yankees." Then came the military dictatorship, which called on evangelicals to be partners to build a new homeland, a new Chile according to God's model, but for this it was necessary to eliminate all the Marxist cancer from the evangelical churches. The proof was: those who supported the military government were on the side of God, and those who did not do so were considered enemies of the country and of God.
In this way, the struggle and the search for democracy became a hopeful and utopian principle that united different Chilean sectors: Who doesn't like democracy? The slogan was "joy is coming": Who does not like to live happy? Even the evangelicals themselves preach it using the synonym of joy and bliss. Why go in search of the evangelicals, if they should come and join the fight for democracy, because their results will benefit everyone? Consequently, the left sinned from an excess of optimism and a desk politics that excluded and excludes dialogue with evangelicals. Consequently, the left in its return to democracy, more secularized than it was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, conceives that religion is not important, it is just a resource and an illusion of submissive people. and manipulated. For the leftist prejudice, being a "joint" and being "chestnut" is a matter of conservatives who use religion to keep many in submission, or it is a matter of submissive to whom the social democratic discourse has not dawned.
On the other hand, pastors are despised for their speeches. Before, evangelical churches and their pulpits were considered schools of popular leaders, while today evangelical pastoral leaders are politically incorrect, they say what they think, they speak as if they were praying. In Chile you don't have to say what you think, you have to hide racism, classism and careerism: you have to think it but not say it; you have to practice it subtly, but with invisible iron strands. If you say it and do it roughly, the same discriminators discriminate against you. They discriminate against you not because of the content of the speech, but because of the discursive form. On the other hand, the evangelical pulpits have not been updated, they have not learned to be politically correct, they have not learned the art of politics: negotiated coexistence, based on the awareness and acceptance of diversity, pluralism and tolerance.
In order to actively understand this situation and specifically the significance of the religious game in these events, it is necessary, first, to deconstruct fairly widespread explanations with respect to recent armed conflicts, and second, to determine with sufficient grounds the factors that play a role in their development.
The claims of several schools that address armed conflicts after the so-called cold war have spread in the West, in most of which positions are generalized based on local or regional events, planetary articulations are unknown and roles are blurred. of the entities and world powers in their gestation and development, looking only at the role of local rebel actors. The analysis by Samuel Huntington (1996) is well known according to which wars are taking place due to a planetary confrontation between civilizations, and Latino immigration in the United States is a threat to national identity and stability. The insufficiency of these categories to explain the conflict in Colombia (and in most nations) is evident, but their perspective brings to the table the fact that there is a complexity in the conflicts and that within it radical differences are at stake. in worldviews. On the other hand, there are slightly more recent approaches that are based especially on the ethnic, religious and autonomist character of the confrontations, considering them as wars without ideologies, fragmented, retrograde, exclusive, made against the population and economically based on pillage and extortion. .6 Here again the religious is taken into account to see the differences, not as a virtue and a necessary characteristic of universal vitality, but as the explanatory reason for the wars in the rupture of the totalitarian homogeneity that would seem to be longed for. The explanation about pillage and extortion is a resource widely used by various analysts and later by language manipulators, who expose the economic interests after the wars but placing them only in the case of the rebel groups and curiously hiding the role of the world powers entities. These explanations, which are generated in the global north, are nevertheless widely used in the Colombian sphere. Behind these analyzes is hidden the fact that large multinational companies have waged a fierce war of conquest and domination to guarantee the availability of raw materials and energy sources, increasingly cheap labor and the massive consumption of their products. , including of course the financial ones. In short, looting and looting are an incontestable and planetary fact, but their main actors, more than the small rebel groups, are the big transnational businessmen, including the bosses of the war machine. And the ethnic-religious factor plays an important role, but not because of diversity, but on the contrary, because of the forces that seek homogenization and totalitarianism.
This role of the religious fact should, in my view, be elucidated in two areas: the field of religious imaginations and mentalities or, as I have called it on other occasions (Lozano, 2014), the tectonic plates of socio-religious dynamism, is that is, those collective constructions that have been woven for centuries and that remain as the social substratum of "long prisons" throughout history; and the scope of the immediate expressions that manifest the agency of different actors in a specific conjuncture.
In the field of tectonic plates, it is necessary to mention, even if it is only enumeratively given the space limitations that we have in this intervention, a) the good / evil dualism and its corresponding flood action against evil; b) the idea of the chosen people that has received the revelation of the truth, which therefore becomes unique and unquestionable and that leads not only to contempt, but also to persecution against any ethnic group, culture or social behavior that does not conform to hegemonic protocols and structures; c) hope and trust in the messianic king who will act as grand inquisitor, defeating evil at its roots, which leads, on the one hand, to each one feeling like a small inquisitor and, on the other, to the blind following of whoever of he soon appears in messianic robes; d) patriarchy, which leads to the defense of particular forms of “tradition, family and property” and to ignorance and passionate persecution against alternative forms of family or gender relations; e) the fear of punishment executed by the maximum inquisitor and that is illustrated in the image of hell and acts as one of the most radical and intensely used mechanisms of power. To these plates that have been acting and being reproduced for five centuries in Latin America and that have a longer history in wars, violence and legitimations of power in the European cosmos, it is necessary to add the Christian civilizing argument that is presented in various forms such as the arrival of modernity, progress, truth and light, devastating, subduing and plundering the "un-civilized." Likewise, it is necessary to add the passionate anti-communism spread among Christian believers since the second half of the century. xix.
On these tectonic plates, already in the plane of the social surface, the extreme right or capitalist neo-conservatism has skillfully moved a manipulative public discourse in the fight against looting and crime, demonizing opponents through harangues and slogans such as “the Castro threat”. chavista ”,“ gender ideology ”,“ the ruin of the family ”,“ underdevelopment ”and“ backwardness ”, or what is the same, the threat against the“ blessing of prosperity ”. Curiously, this public discourse hides a private practice of enormous corruption, illicit enrichment and violation of national and international regulations, especially in the field of human rights, which also seeks impunity.
If the events described above compose the framework of the most recent history that established the background from which the Brazilian political disputes occurred, two events further intensified the processes that were structured there. The first of these was Lava-Jato, an investigative operation conducted by the federal police that found allegations of corruption between the government and contractors. In the framework of this investigation, dozens of politicians and company executives were arrested, in addition to Lula himself. The second event was the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in August 2016. Both situations are complex and multiply parallel processes around them with unfoldings that are still unknown and therefore difficult to describe. However, it is possible to recognize several occasions in which the theme of religion acquired some centrality in the developments of these two events.
Dilma Rousseff's impeachment was supported by popular demonstrations that, throughout 2015 and 2016, once again brought millions of people to the streets. The pattern of the acts, with some variations, was centered on the overthrow of Dilma, on Lula's prison and on the diffuse demand for the “end of corruption”. Such protests are important to understand the political process that is taking place in Brazil. They show a not trivial novelty: for the first time in the most recent history of the country, the streets were taken by political actors not linked to class entities, student movements or representatives of political parties associated with the ideological spectrum of the left. The right wing won the streets and entered with force in the dispute over the narrative of the popular demands of the country. During these demonstrations, the news got us used to seeing how the terms "right" and "conservative" cease to operate as a category of accusation and are used as elements of self-identification.
Part of the interpretations of this new phenomenon of mass protests in Brazil bet on the idea that it was in 2013 when subjects not used to political movements until then recognized themselves as actors of a broader collective. In that case, 2013 taught them a model for the dissemination of events (via the internet), a form of occupation of the streets (large protests) and a possible political identity (conservative and anti-corruption). Although it is pertinent in many respects, this interpretation does not consider that every year, since the beginning of the 2000s, among the largest public demonstrations in Brazil is the March for Jesus.
Every year, evangelical churches organize these demonstrations in large Brazilian cities; São Paulo stands out, where, for example, three million people gathered in 2009. The importance of recognizing the March for Jesus as an event that makes up the process of political formation of the actors who have been occupying the streets in Brazil since 2013 is sustained by two arguments. First, although it may have served as an element of acceleration of the process, 2013 is part of a sequence and is not an inaugural event. And second, when analyzing the March for Jesus we will identify the emergence of an aesthetic and symbols that would consolidate in the protests for the impeachment. In the March for Jesus, for example, for the first time the protesters adhered to the shirt of the Brazilian soccer team as a symbol of the defense of family values and the fight against corruption. Aesthetics that turned the mark of the demonstrations against Dilma and Lula.7
PIn the case of Mexico, I prefer to speak of the advance of conservatism (and not of the right) to address this strip that crosses and links sectors of the left and right, and that generates new alliances between different religious groups that saw themselves as opponents in the theological field , but that they are able to establish alliances by sharing the idea of a common enemy to face. If in the 1960s the enemy of the conservatives was communism, at the present time it has been replaced by the so-called “gender ideology”. As Ávila González (2018) says, “the concept of gender has become the ghost and unifying axis of evil, equated with terrorism; an evil that threatens the natural order by promoting a culture of chaos and death (anti-family, anti-men, anti-heterosexuality, immorality, etc.) ”. This was manifested recently (during 2017) in the crusades undertaken by the National Front for the Family, which opposed the legal recognition of unions between people of the same sex. Conservative sectors have spread the moral fear that threatens the family, the patriarchal order, and marriage. They have spread lies on social networks to encourage that fear and mobilize society, as was the rumor that in textbooks the biological differences between boys and girls would no longer be recognized, or the delivery of the gay kit in the schools. They have been able to establish an interdenominational block that is distinguished by opposing the recognition of the existence of the "other" and by maintaining the public validity of dogmatic principles that are imposed on the rest of society as unquestionable truths. And finally, different conservative Christians (evangelicals and Catholics) have chosen to take positions of power from which to influence public policies.
The advance of conservatism is not exclusive to the right, it also goes hand in hand with the populism embraced by the new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (amlo). This can be seen in the fact that: 1) Although society in general values the division of activities between churches and the State (see the data from the Survey believe),8 This is constantly questioned by some religious groups (Catholics and Evangelicals) who argue that the regulations go against the right to religious freedom. On the other hand, amlo it has constantly disqualified the principle of secularism, appealing to biblical principles and implementing religious symbols to legitimize political activities. Secularism represents a constitutional value conquered in Mexico since the century xix, which regulates the interference of religion in some strategic public sectors to maintain the autonomy of the State, such as education, health and ownership of the media. 2) The alliance between brunette (National Regeneration Movement, the party that led to amlo to the presidency) with the Social Encounter Party (pes) was a fact that gave influence to evangelicals in government policy. The pes It is an evangelical party that, thanks to guaranteed votes, obtained seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Evangelicals, although they are a minority in Mexico, have become a new protagonist of national politics who, as they have done in other countries (Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica), seek to impose pro-life laws and a campaign of opposition to the new enemy which, along with conservative Catholics, they call "gender ideology." 3) For some years, when there was political alternation in Mexico, we have seen the implementation of religious symbols to legitimize politicians and their policies. López Obrador is no stranger to this use of religion to gain popularity and to legitimize projects. An example of this were the ceremony on the day of his inauguration where he received the baton of command of the indigenous peoples and the “Mayan” ceremony that he performed to legitimize the Mayan Train project, which was not consulted with the indigenous communities of the affected region. 4) His repeated announcement to institute a Moral primer to be distributed in evangelical churches.
LEvents rush out of control and point to different and even contradictory things. The very construction of an agency that articulates, the construction of a counter-hegemony to the democratization and social pluralization of the 1980s is part of those events. In the specific context of the religious field, we find a crisis of the family, a reluctance to assume the discourse of secularism for fear that the spaces may narrow to the Pentecostal minoritization of the period, an effect of the anti-communist rhetoric that echoes and approaches the New American Christian Right and its radical neoliberal expression of Tea party. If in the United States the conservative evangelicals who ballast the Christian right of the Bush era, the "evangelical-capitalist resonance machine" of which William Connolly (2008) speaks, have been led by historical and charismatic churches, in Brazil it is the Pentecostal churches that constitute the main recruiting base. It is about the construction of a hegemonic bloc made up of neoliberals, authoritarians, politicians and religious moralists of various calibers. It is not yet a well-tuned, oiled machine. And the process takes place in an intensely contested terrain, taking into account that the democratic framework, although weakened by the 2016 coup and the 2018 electoral victory, still allows the expression of dissent.
In this framework, we can perceive the emergence of new ecumenisms. On the one hand, the Pentecostals knew with great mastery, in the Brazilian case, to articulate with Catholics and even with sectors of the Catholic hierarchy, but also with an arc of forces in which the "Christian religion" has become a master signifier, a capiton point Lacanian, of aggregation of a reactionary coalition. A right-wing ecumenism, hegemonized not by majority Catholicism but by an active religious minority! On the other hand, the progressive and left-wing sectors of the evangelical churches articulated with social movements, ngo, leftist parties and sectors of the academy to build a counter-discourse on the link between faith and politics and insist on the internal heterogeneity of the evangelical field. A left ecumenism, without clear and unique leadership and mobilized around ideas of resistance!
CSocial onservatism, folded into the family, from the economic to the political. In this context, religions intervene from conservative positions. Linked to the movement "Don't mess with my children", they intervene to prevent family and sexual education in schools. They hold annual marches led by Catholic and Protestant bishops, priests and pastors against the Ministry of Education and civil institutions that promote information and culture on these issues.
Family and patrimonial individualism is the popular substratum of conservatism that crosses social classes, from the old oligarchic families to the middle class bourgeoisies and even the popular sectors. Elites linked to religious groups such as Opus Dei, Pro Ecclesia Santa, conservative congregations, conservative families. Very linked to school and university education, they are preparing new conservative generations both in private and public life fields.
Conservatism thus appears as a reaction to democracy and citizen rights that advance against racism and the various discriminations, which include gender among its various dimensions. The importance of the media in the democratization of public space, public opinion and citizenship as actors in the fight against corruption, authoritarianism and secrecy in government is also highlighted. Politicians cannot privatize public space.
The evangelical world in Chile has been in crisis at least since the first decade of the 21st century. It has a crisis of hope: a crisis of promise, of expectations, and of the future. This is because the evangelical discourse, especially the Pentecostal one, focused on heaven, hell, the devil and demons. His closest offer was alcohol rehabilitation, overcoming domestic violence, and receiving social and symbolic resources to be a good worker. While today public policy has been more efficient and without the need for conversion. The worker lost his relevance and centrality and was displaced by the entrepreneur and the professional, which the university and, again, public policy, do better. Therefore, the pastoral speeches are not efficient and their churches illusively grow, because they are the corridors of believers of other churches. Consequently, pastors today are administrators of the charism and guardians of religious tradition. In this logic, shepherds, especially of the great temples and confessions, join the imaginary of the politician, the high public official, the great businessman and the civil servants of the ffaa and of Orden: to extract the maximum possible benefit from their social and economic status. This is manifested in the use and abuse of tithes, which has generated social unrest and increased social rejection of religious leaders. Therefore, the erosion, delegitimization and rejection of the Catholic Church does not benefit evangelical churches as in other countries, but affects them negatively. The population rejects not only the Catholic Church, but also any institutional religion, because the institution has stifled the charism. Therefore, the conservatism of the pastor is per se its socio-religious reality. This generates a double crisis of growth: new believers do not convert, or if they do, they do not persevere, and on the other hand the new generations leave the churches. Consequently, this essentialist discourse becomes intolerant of feminist discourses, sexual minorities and ancestral religions. Why? Because those are the efficient and effective speeches today. It is they who have seized social sensitivity. Their demands become plausible and coherent and therefore included in public policies. On the other hand, evangelicals and their demands are rejected and illegitimate, because they seek their own benefit and not that of society in general, and therefore they are not included, and therefore they join the conservative politics looking for patronage profits.
Finally, the conservative discourse of the evangelical world is reaffirmed by political conservatism. Pastors seek recognition and be included in the government of the day. Conservative evangelical leaders are not interested in having their confessional demands included, but rather that they are included in government positions of trust, by failing to do so in popular elections. In this sense, those who are going to seek the vote of the evangelicals are the right-wing political parties and groups. Not because right-wing politicians are interested in evangelicals or that their speeches are coincidental, but because they ensure a sector with a significant weight of votes. They are not included in the government's relevant trust positions, but they are included in irrelevant and invisible positions, and they assign symbolic value by including them in government protocols. The immediate pragmatism of the new rights allows them that coexistence, to transform human and social rights as part of their political agenda, not because they consider them relevant, but because they allow them to channel social unrest and be elected, but once in government they only legislate those rights that coincide with neoliberal logic. For example, Piñera promises evangelicals not to pass laws that favor sexual minorities, or abortion, but finally he approves them anyway, because he knows that what he shares with religious and political conservatism is his aversion to progressive ideas. And in the face of the crisis of political and religious ideas and the country's project, they will remain united for the next few years, even if the politicians betray the religious.
The impacts of this reaffirmation of the ultra-right in power are being felt in events such as the aforementioned intensification of the assassinations of leaders that reached the figure of 110 during 2018, according to the report of the un, to which it is necessary to add the increase in massacres (in 164%), the rise in homicide figures that in some areas reaches 1 473%, the continuity of extrajudicial executions or misnamed false positives, of which eleven were registered in the year, the murder of 85 former members of the farc and other samples of this true humanitarian catastrophe (United Nations High Commissioner, 2019). In short, it is about the increase in the war against the population. In addition, there has been progress towards the intervention of the Colombian military in other expressions of said war in the international arena and now there is the threat of military intervention in Venezuela.
In addition to these acts of armed violence, there are serious impacts in the setbacks with respect to the peace accords, especially in the brakes that are being placed on the implementation of various agreements, among which those referring to rural reform and the truth stand out. and justice. The commitments regarding point 1, called “Towards a New Colombian Countryside”, in which, according to the report of the Krock Institute of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, United States, had only made significant progress in May 2018. 5% of the respective items (Krock, 2018).9 Glyphosate fumigations resumed; President Duque has just raised objections to the law on Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Serious threats are also seen with respect to constitutional judgments already issued regarding the decriminalization of abortion (Sentence C-355 of 2006) and equal marriage (SU214 of 2016).
Now, obviously the impacts will depend on the reaction of the different actors to these facts and, therefore, it is worth asking about the role of the human sciences in this regard. Beyond their registration and analysis as supposed neutral observers, and beyond the modern heritage that places us in the framework of dialogue with the secular state and with secularized society and that bases our worldview on individualistic anthropocentrism, it will be necessary to actively interpret spiritualities from the recognition and affirmation of community autonomies, by questioning dogmatisms, therefore, in favor of the recognition of diversities and articulations, and revaluing the criterion of sacredness of life that these spiritualities propose. Analysis and emerging categories regarding epistemologies and ontologies of feeling-thinking with the land, the transformative commitment, reflection and action in a network and instead, the territorial perspective and the Sumak Kawsay can be a fertile ground.
Lhe sequence of events described so far had its apotheosis in 2018. In that year Lula was arrested and Jair Mesias Bolsonaro elected president of Brazil. Bolsonaro is a reserve soldier and politician with a long history in the Brazilian National Congress, having been elected for seven consecutive terms as a federal deputy. Despite having held a seat in the Chamber of Deputies for so long, until 2015 he remained a parliamentarian unknown to most of the population and of little relevance, even, in political articulation. He was, in short, a deputy of the "lower clergy." Starting in 2015, however, he became an increasingly present figure in the news and on social media, appearing in protests against Rousseff and demanding Lula's imprisonment in videos broadcast on Facebook. Affiliated to a party with little recognition and with only nine seconds of television propaganda during the first round of the electoral dispute, and against the expectation of many analysts, he managed to be elected.
Bolsonaro declares himself a Catholic, but made important contacts with the evangelical population during the electoral campaign. He traveled to be baptized by a Brazilian pastor politician in the Jordan River, adopted as the slogan of his campaign "Brazil above all, God above all", he tirelessly repeated some biblical verses on the Saturdays he participated during the dispute and, when He was chosen, in one of them, among his first acts, he made a prayer in the Pentecostal style, led by a politician as well as an evangelical pastor. The evangelical presence in Brazilian politics is certainly not new. What was consolidated more recently was the change in the way these actors act, who, at least since 2010, consolidated the parliamentary evangelical front, assuming a form of action that extrapolates to the parties and places religious identity as the main element of political identification. This process was already being established throughout the governments of Lula and Dilma, when politicians-religious were raised to the first echelon of the government and occupied positions of ministers and high secretaries. Since Bolsonaro's presidency, however, the evangelical presence and the discourse in defense of Christian values and the family acquired, at least in that first moment, a determining value for the very choice of the government's hard core.
Bolsonaro is a central character for the new Brazilian politics. It is still early to identify its effect for the continent. What matters most now is not so much observing Bolsonaro himself, but the phenomenon that made him president of Brazil. Somehow, what is at stake is recognizing that the most important social fact here is not Bolsonaro, but Bolsonarismo. It is certainly tempting to attribute a novel character to Bolsonarism. However, to finish, seeking to scare away this temptation, I turn to a text by the sociologist of religion Flávio Pierucci, published in 1987, entitled "The bases of a new right." The text analyzed the context of the elaboration of the federal constitution of 1988. Pierucci recognized there that the so-called new right was reactive to the Catholicism of liberation theology, but at the same time it projected almost prophetically how that new right could find an echo in the emerging Pentecostalism in the mass media: “It is that the penetration [of moralism] in the mass is greatly facilitated by its double and advantageous alliance: with the extreme right of the police media and with the extreme evangelical right, the latter equally mediatic (... ) This new sociocultural space for the extreme right, represented by fundamentalist Christian denominations, converges in its specific anti-clericalism with the other, anti-clericalism-de-caserón and delegation, to accuse the archdiocese of San Pablo of making a pact with criminals through human rights policy ”.10 Pierucci's quote could be from an analysis of the current situation in Brazil, but here it serves to remind us that the "new right" may, thus, not be so new.
MMexico is a country that is becoming polarized. This is seen in the language and in the use of new stigmatizing labels of the others. On the one hand, the President constantly defines all those who are not with him as enemies, power mafia, and frequently as "fifís". The fifís are all bourgeois, but they also articulate with the values of opponents of the nation. In contrast, the right-wing sectors that see in amlo a risk for the country and for the economy, they have extended their perception of dangerous otherness, calling the popular sectors "chairos" and all those identified with the left or sympathizers of amlo. A very offensive expression that goes beyond the political and that begins to stereotype Mexicans as undesirable people due to their economic deficiencies. The borders between fifís and chairos are lived in social networks, but they have already been expressed in citizen marches where the economic sectors of society confront each other. These labels are contrary to a culture that promotes a pluralism capable of accompanying the growing religious diversity, the multicultural inclusion of a country diverse in ethnic groups, with the presence of new racial minorities that came from the hand of migration, and the marked segmentations of social class. These labels are also used to disqualify religious manifestations. These labels encourage class confrontations and can generate dangerous fascist cultures. Attention will have to be paid to how religions play a role in strengthening these discriminatory labels that lead to class confrontations and confrontations.
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