By Eddy Montilla
A couple of decades ago, some Latin American countries decided to embrace some kind of pseudo-socialist ideas based on false promises and empty rhetoric coming from their political leaders that made people sleep deeper than a bad movie on TV. This situation happened in Venezuela with the populist leader Hugo Chávez, in Bolivia (Evo Morales), in Ecuador (Rafael Correa) and Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega), not to mention the perennial Cuba.
The socialist model implemented in those countries can be described as a bunch of good intentions with retrograde steps that can be confirmed when you see its final result: Venezuela, a country with the largest amount of proven oil reserves in the world where filling the tank of a car is practically free, has its inflation today projected to reach 8 million percent or more this year, for which it may receive one the most dubious honor that a country could bestow: to be one of the most miserable places in the world. Everything began with Hugo Chávez and reached the limits of the absurd with the country’s current President, Nicolás Maduro. As a result, a lot of people are in dire straits and more than four million Venezuelans have fled their country amid the economic and humanitarian crisis.
Rafael Correa did a better job in Ecuador than Chávez and Maduro in Venezuela, but his blatant attempt to silence the Press and constitutional amendments that eliminated presidential term limits were enough to end Ecuadorian democracy. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega fought against the Somoza dynasty that ruled his country as a family dictatorship for decades only to become himself another modern dictator. Among these socialist leaders, “The Untouchables”, Evo Morales in Bolivia seemed to be the most successful one even though the price was too high since he undermined his own credibility and position by approving constitutional amendments so that he could seek a fourth term in office.
Latin American socialism found its failure in its fragile way of working and principles: leaders provide “fish” to the people, but they never teach them how to fish in order to be treated like a god by the poor. The lack of generational shift and leaders’ reluctance to pass the baton to others doomed their plans to failure from the beginning. Only Costa Rica (and dubiously Mexico in second place) has kept dictators away from its Government, which explains its solid democratic growth, not to mention its steady economic position. With so many examples to learn from them, we only hope that the region has understood and learned the lesson to bury the path followed by Venezuela, Cuba and other countries in Latin America because wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion
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Photo: By courtesy of Archivo Medios Públicos under the criteria of Creative Commons (Flickr, 7-6-2019).