As this year’s G20 summit in Cabo, Mexico, marks the first time a Latin American country has hosted the G20, it is perhaps timely to look at the particular local blend of anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism that continues to thrive within the popular political discourse in a region that once famously attempted to stone Richard Nixon. This deep-seated popular ambivalence, taken together with the current worldwide trend toward dynamic popular manifestations exemplified in the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring, could result in something of a perfect storm for popular disruption as the world’s leaders prepare to descend upon Cabo.
Since 2008, every G20 summit has become a focal point for organized protest, often reflecting local flavors of suspicion toward capitalism in general and American influence in particular. During the 2011 summit in Cannes, approximately 10,000 people gathered to protest the summit, and 12,000 French riot policemen—alongside water cannons and helicopters—were required to contain the unrest.
A government mural visible from the principal freeway in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas, shows a smiling Barack Obama with the left side of his face removed, revealing a threatening robotic skeleton reminiscent of the Terminator franchise. The caption reads “Toy of the Empire: Easy to Use, Totally Manipulable.” This mural, which has remained in place for over two years, says much of the role that anti-American sentiment continues to play in the popular political discourse in the region.
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