Don’t Let the Pandemic be a Pretext for Authoritarianism

The writer Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize for Literature. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerInternational Foundation For Freedom (via 14ymedio), Madrid, 23 April 2020 — We, the undersigned, share the concern about the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a large number of infections and death throughout the world, and we extend our solidarity to the families in mourning.

While public and private healthcare employees fight the coronavirus valiantly, many governments take measures that indefinitely restrict basic freedoms and rights. Instead of some understandable restrictions on freedom, confinement reigns with several exceptions, the inability to work and produce, and information manipulation in several countries.

Some governments have identified an opportunity to arrogate excessive power to themselves. They have suspended the rule of law and even representative democracy and the justice system. In the dictatorships of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the pandemic serves as a pretext to increase political persecution and oppression.

In Spain and Argentina, leaders with a marked ideological bias intend to use the harsh circumstances to monopolize political and economic prerogatives that citizens would resolutely reject in another context. In Mexico, the pressure against private companies intensifies and the Puebla Group is used to attack governments of different signs.

On both sides of the Atlantic, statism, interventionism and populism resurface with an impetus that suggests a change of model away from liberal democracy and the market economy.

We want to strongly state that this crisis must not be faced by sacrificing the rights and freedoms that it has cost a lot to achieve. We reject the false dilemma that these circumstances force us to choose between authoritarianism and insecurity, between the Philanthropic Ogre and death.

Madrid, April 2020


Among many others, the manifesto is signed by: Mario Vargas Llosa, and former presidents Aznar, Zedillo, Macri, Uribe, Sanguinetti, Lacalle, Cristiani and Franco. It is also signed by an outstanding group of intellectuals, businessmen and political leaders from Europe, Latin America and the United States.

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