May 9, 2017    4 minute read

Is the Political Left Really Dooming Latin America?

The Real Story    May 9, 2017    4 minute read

Is the Political Left Really Dooming Latin America?

Lenín Moreno, the candidate from the same party as the former Ecuadorean government, was elected president on April 3rd.

This is, therefore, a historical turning point, which the population is calling the first step towards the “Venezuelisation” of Ecuador. Nevertheless, some people argue that this process started with the many corruption complaints against the President Rafael Correa since the start of his mandate in 2006.

The “Pink Tide”

“Venezuelisation” is an ambiguous term. There is no proper definition of it, although everyone seems to know it implies nothing desirable. One immediately think of the long queues of Venezuelans waiting for basic goods and the Venezuelan minimum wage of 12$. One also thinks of leftist parties and one of the favourite words of recent years: crisis.

In the 21st century, support for leftist parties in Latin America has been called the “Pink Tide“. This wave was produced through promoting the idea of a “real change in times” and furthered by stagnation at best or, at worst, recession.

This was due to a lack of structural economic reforms, such as improvement in education or increases in technological development, which produced a general decrease in productivity and a consequent lack of growth incentives.

Unfortunate Tendencies and Terrible Policies

Since the final years of Chavez’s presidency, a feeling of chaos and instability was felt by Venezuela and its neighbouring countries. The problem worsened with the emergence in the political arena of Nicolas Maduro, who was educationally unprepared (another Latin American political pattern) for a leader.

But still, voters were not able to reject him, out of political loyalty towards Chavez’s party. This loyalty was the product of populist policies directed towards short-term solutions to poverty, including the provision of limited basic goods to families and housing programs benefiting the poorest (usually party members). Similar policies exist in Nicaragua and Ecuador, both of which also suffer from high state intervention and a dearth of educational investment.

Woeful Party Loyalty

These countries have had the same party in power for many electoral periods: Chavez’s party has been in power since 1999; Alianza País, the incumbent Paraguayan party, has led the nation since the start of Correa’s presidency; and Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s president, has ruled since 2006. For all this to happen, legal changes were made.

In Nicaragua, reelection was not legal (and still not recognised by its population) until the change of its constitution in 2014. Just as with Maduro in Venezuela, Nicaraguans wanted Sandinista’s government in power due to political loyalty. This was, after all, the same party that fought against Somoza’s dictatorship in the 70s and the US intervention in the 80s.

Once in power, Ortega, like other “socialist” governments, decided to stay in power and purported to defend his country’s sovereignty from US imperialism and poverty.

However, these countries are not experiencing real GDP growth and are certainly not defending democracy. As economist Joseph Schumpeter has discussed, democracy is about the peaceful passing of power, and that alone is its value.

Are They Really Left Wing?

These Latin American countries are under dictatorships, even though one rarely reads news referring to them as such. It always seems that one lacks the proof needed to demonstrate something is very wrong in Latin American politics.

People argue they are just socialist countries, living under their ideologies. But they do not guide themselves through any Marxist ideals. On the contrary, it is not the seizing of the means of production that they are looking for, but the increase of their own personal and party power.

Additionally, people accuse Latin American “cultural norms” as disliking bureaucracy or structural organisation as reasons for the lack of transparency in their governments. However, many NGOs of Latin American origin exist all over the continent and work without corruption accusations.

Imprudent Investment

Finally, people contend that fraud accusations are just a lack of proper technology, which results in scepticism. For example, during the Ecuadorian elections, there were accusations of technical problems as the system stopped letting voters keep track of the results.

However, money that could be invested in electoral technology is instead used for propaganda. For example, in Nicaragua alone, 5.418.983 million dollars were spent as part of Ortega’s 2011 campaign. He was also accused of fraud during that election and the previous one.

The Reality

For a long time, Latin America has been in the process of “Venezuelisation”, and now more and more people are starting to see it. Poverty and economic instability have become unbearable.

Calling these forms of government by their proper name, dictatorship, is just the start of accepting that Latin America is already in critical condition.

These governments should not be equated with leftist ideas because, in reality, their countries’ decline has not been from the leftist policies they apply, but the policies they lack and the corruption they promote. Populism, not left-wing politics, is dooming Latin America.

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