Brazil And The Decline Of Latin American Left-Wing Populism / 14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca

Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández, Lula Da Silva, Nicanor Duarte and Hugo Chavez signed the agreement for the foundation of Banco del Sur in 2009. (DC)
Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández, Lula Da Silva, Nicanor Duarte and Hugo Chavez signed the agreement for the foundation of Banco del Sur in 2009. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca, 13 May 2016 – Like a good Brazilian novel, where the best scenes are reserved for the end, the Brazilian left is finally exiting the stage of that South American giant. This Thursday, having first served successive terms in the Chamber of Deputies and later the Federal Senate, Dilma Rousseff was officially informed that she had to step away from the presidency, to give her time to prepare her defense in front of the Senate.

Supposedly, Rouseff has 180 long days for this purpose, but the incriminating evidence, as well as the fragility of the defense (although she says otherwise) portend a process that will not use up the available time. The suspended president argues that other presidents did the same thing she did, but without being sanctioned. However, the fact that others committed crimes does not authorize her to commit them. Dilma Rousseff will not return to the presidency of Brazil, and nor will her mentor and leader Lula de Silva, because their party emerges ethically tarnished after numerable cases of corruption. continue reading

It has to be said that Da Silva’s and Rousseff’s Workers Party (PT) only came to power by allying themselves (over these long 14 years in power) to Brazil’s largest party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The PMDB’s departure from the coalition determined, in good measure, Rousseff’s fate in both the House and the Senate. Rousseff’s party was never the majority party in Brazil, and after the “armed assault” staged to steal by the fistful from the state oil company Petrobras, it will not be for the foreseeable future.

Rousseff argues that her actions were not a crime, but more than three-quarters of the House and Senate believe otherwise. All in the context of the moral decadence of her party. The treasurer of Rousseff’s party is in jail, as is the head of the president’s last election campaign, both of them accused of corruption.

The fall of the main bastion of the South American left is nothing more than the continuation of the collapse of the Castro-Chavez project in Latin America, after the fall of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, the victory of the opposition in the National Assembly elections in Venezuela, Evo Morales’s loss in a referendum to allow his reelection in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa’s agreeing not to run again for the presidency of Ecuador.

The South American subcontinent is beginning to emerge from the long night in which it was mired in left-wing populism promoted by Castro-Chavezism, and hopefully these democratic winds from the south, will reach Venezuelan soil first and Cuban soil afterwards, bringing the democracy that we Latin Americans desire and deserve.

The Castros’ Chess Game in Venezuela / 14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca

Venezuelan opposition activist Lilian Tintori, wife of the political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, Sunday. (Twitter)
Venezuelan opposition activist Lilian Tintori, wife of the political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, Sunday. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca, 8 December 2015 — The surprising, though expected, results of the Venezuelan elections have a fairly simple explanation if we consider that it implies the exit from the Venezuelan political scene of Disdado Cabello, Nicolas Maduro’s major enemy and, therefore, also that of the Castro brothers.

President Maduro’s last minute change in attitude towards the electoral process could be an order from Havana with an eye to resolving, with the triumph of the opposition, two aspects that are of major concern to the Castros: the current power of the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, enemy of Cuba and therefore of Maduro; and in second place, avoiding the international blow that would derive from giving the president-elect of Argentina Mauricio Marcri’s a legal basis for his proposal to apply the “democracy clause” against Venezuela to expel it from Mercosur, the southern common market bloc. continue reading

In the final days before the elections we witnessed a radical change in the position of Nicolas Maduro regarding the electoral process. From original messages warning he would take violently to the streets, he switched to an attitude of apologizing for his words saying he “had been misinterpreted” and assuring that the government would accept the results.

He received his (former enemies), the Latin American ex-presidents in the Government Palace (sent – unsuccessfully – to expel Cabello from Venezuela), and allowed opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez to vote from prison, among other clear changes in his posture, which can only be explained if there had been an order from Havana to that effect.

Politics is a complex game of chess. The victory of the opposition in these parliamentary elections is a defeat for Nicolas Maduro, but there is no doubt that the main person defeated is Diosdado Cabello, and that this objective is greatly prioritized in Havana and will be very well received by Maduro. Of course, as the island is already preparing for how to deal with an opposition legislature, because Maduro has another three years in office, there is enough time – from the Cuban point of view – to neutralize it, having gained time.

Venturing a hypothesis, after the Cuban directive to accept the popular will in Venezuela, it could be the current US-Cuba relationship and possible negotiations that led Havana to influence Caracas in this regard, with the intention of initiating a thaw between Washington and Caracas without removing Maduro from power, only Cabello. The current President of the National Assembly is accused of being a drug kingpin in Venezuela, and we have seen Havana’s solution to this earlier, with accusations against Cuban generals (and ultimately the execution of a national hero General Ochoa).

It is still too early to speculate with a reasonable degree of accuracy, but a statement of opposition victory readily accepted by President Maduro – the same man who had previously spoken of “massacres” if this were to happen – merits further investigation beyond saying “he complied with the popular will,” when we know that for the Castro brothers there is no reason other than always ensuring the protection of their interests.

Thus the acceptance of the Venezuelan opposition victory could have been driven by the division within the ruling party and the Cubans’ desire to get rid of a dangerous enemy.

In Cuba, We Have The Worst Of Both Worlds / 14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca

Container Terminal Development Special Zone of Mariel.
Container Terminal Development Special Zone of Mariel.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jorge Hernandez Fonseca, 4 August 2015 – Cuba has lived under the rule of the Castro brothers for a long “socialist” period, the result of which has been an impoverished society. The solution now promoted by the authorities is “to befriend the imperialist enemy,” because, “without the restoration of capitalism it is impossible to construct socialism.” However, it is not the socialism that Raul Castro and his generals are going to implement on the island, but rather a hybrid of the worst of both worlds.

Capitalism requires individual freedom as a condition to better develop the entrepreneurial potential of society, to foster the development of the productive sources. Individual freedom implies, however, a certain dose of social insecurity – an undesirable feeling for many people – but that strengthens the entrepreneurial capacity of the other part of the same society. continue reading

Capitalist production organization is structured naturally so that the few entrepreneurs – owners of the businesses – give employment to a greater number of employees. Socialists denounce the “capitalist exploitation” by these entrepreneur-owners of the “unredeemed” masses.

Socialism, for its part, prioritizes “the social” at the cost of sacrificing individual freedom. It argues that “the social security is obtained at the sacrifice of individual freedom,” as a kind of payment to obtain the longed-for “social justice for the great dispossessed masses.

The productive socialist organization is very similar to the capitalist. In order to eradicate capitalism, it nationalizes the productive enterprises and in parallel limits individual freedom through a dictatorship in order to “give social justice in exchange for freedom.” As there are no owners, the earnings go to the all-powerful state which supposedly distributes them “equally” to offer the promised social justice. This scheme doesn’t work and decreases the earnings until the final collapse of the economy, an incentive for the return to the “old” capitalism.

The Castro regime has decided to implement a State capitalism that allows only foreign “capitalist exploitation,” but leaves the dictatorship intact

In the current circumstances, the Castro regime has decided to implement a State capitalism that allows only foreign “capitalist exploitation,” but leaves the dictatorship intact to curtail the individual freedoms of Cubans. In this case, we have the worst of both worlds: on the one hand, the lack of freedom implied by a socialist dictatorship, on the other hand, that lack of social justice implied by capitalism only for foreigners. This, for Cubans, means the continuation of the struggle against the dictatorship.

The Castro regime will disappear with the disappearance of the Castro brothers, with or without the presence of the United States on the national stage. It will be then when the Cuban people, inside and outside the island, will assert their rights, violated in this half-century of oppression and treachery.

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Editorial Note: This text was previously published (in Spanish) here. It is reproduced with the permission of the author.