The IMF and Class Struggle in Latin America: Unveiling the Role of the IMF

By David Barkin and Juan Santarcángelo in Monthly Review Online, 1 May 2024

Mainstream economics posits that the path to prosperity for developing countries is achieved through the implementation of a set of “free market” policies, which, among its principal measures, advocates for economic openness, market deregulation and liberalization, and privatization of public enterprises. Despite empirical evidence showing that no developed country has reached its current capacity through the application of these policies, the core countries of the world continue to maintain this discourse and, more importantly, attempt to ensure that developing countries implement these measures. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) plays an integral part in this configuration. With the purported aim of safeguarding the stability of the global economy, the IMF has been key in the reconfiguration and extension of the dominance of international finance capital over the local productive resources of Latin America by favoring the consolidation of local capitalist classes subordinated to the designs and power of global capital.

The aim of this article is, on the one hand, to demonstrate that the relationship between Latin America and the IMF is a faithful reflection of a global class struggle, in which internal and external power dynamics have been articulated over the years in favor of capital. On the other hand, the goal is to reflect on the concrete possibilities that open up for the region in the future if it decides not to repeat its history.1 With these objectives in mind, We begin by briefly reviewing the role of the IMF in the global economy, the countries that control its decisions, and its main functions and sources of financing. We then examine the long-term relationship between Latin American countries and the IMF from the mid-1970s to the present. The objective is to reconsider these elements to account for the specific ways in which IMF intervention inevitably proved decisive in the class struggle for countries in the region, always favoring big capital. Finally, in the last section, we reflect on the nature of the IMF and the possibilities that lie ahead for the region if it chooses to reverse this disastrous historical legacy.



Leave a Reply