Caudillism, a Repeated Evil / Fernando Dámaso

The Latin American left, old, new or newest, in its love-hate relationship with the northern neighbor, has always railed against it, making it totally responsible for all our political, economic and social ills. Added to this has been the contribution, over the years, of many of our intellectuals and artists who, enjoying most comfortable economic positions, have tried to establish a kind of political patronage over the masses, trying to cleanse, with them, their bourgeois stigma, which they deny but enjoy. It’s not worth recording their names, because the list is endless.

Acknowledging our shortcomings is something extremely difficult for Latin Americans. We’ve always like the role of victims and it has paid us good dividends. Immensely rich lands have provided us with wealth or well-being and all for the fault of others: first it was the Spanish and Portuguese who destroyed the magnificent and idyllic aboriginal civilizations, which respected the human being, did not go to war and lived in peace and harmony, resting on the banks of rivers and lakes, singing and dancing in honor of the gods, who were so good and so undemanding that they showered them with offerings of tropical fruits. Then there were the British, Dutch, French, etc. who also came to exploit and take over our natural resources that we, wisely, didn’t exploit, reserving them for future generations. In the end came the Americans, getting rid of all the designated governments and doing what they pleased, and so on.

This story, well told, is very comfortable for our leftists and allowed them to disregard the reality and the real causes of our situation: our own incapacity. Other countries with fewer natural resources, with adverse geographical and climatic conditions, with submissions and wars, have been able to struggle, overcome obstacles and develop without exploiting anyone: Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Thailand, Malaysia, to name a few. Why has Canada developed while Mexico hasn’t, both having borders with the United States? Is it that the United States has been magnanimous with Canada and stingy with Mexico? Or is that Canadians, instead of wasting time in fratricidal strife, have dedicated themselves to work hard and develop their country? The answer is obvious, despite the silliness of our left. If we review the history of Latin American nations we find only a string of wars and warlords in a violent and interminable struggle to seize power and benefit from cliques outside the people’s interests, although they often disguise themselves as such.

The people meekly followed these mythical characters and have relied on an endless carnival, which has plunged us into the most appalling underdevelopment, without real hope of leaving it. All leaders have used the same scheme: from liberator to dictator.

Until our people stop whining, blaming everything on their neighbor (whom they envy) and decide to work hard, to settle the caudillism and establish a truly democratic system, where what matters is the management of government and results, not personal sympathies for one or another figure, until we establish and strengthen the institutions that can prevent someone from seizing power and operating at will, until democracy really works and not the current freaks, we cannot solve any of our problems.

Meanwhile, our leftists, supported by the festive leftists of the developed countries, continue to entertain themselves organizing protest marches against everything, burning effigies of Uncle Sam and the incumbent president as well as flags, to the rhythm of a Brazilian samba, a Colombian cumbia, a Venezuelan joropo or a Cuban conga, with large portraits of Bolivar, Che and other convenient figures. It’s easy and convenient to shift onto the shoulders of others our own historical incapacity and indolence, to be able to continue lying against the trunk of a coconut tree napping, while responsible nations and workers cross in front of us and leave us behind.

March 30 2011