Latin America and the New Populist Cycle

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has legitimately won the Mexican elections and is not expected to govern with prudence. (@PartidoMorenaMx)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 23 Septmber 2018 — In Mauricio Macri’s Argentina the Peronists do not give a damn that Cristina Kirchner and her husband were two world-class thieves. “Whoremonger or thief, we want Perón” is still the slogan of the tribe. Maybe we are not Republicans. Or sufficiently Republican. To be so, it is essential to voluntarily place oneself under the authority of the law and to respect the dictates of impartial courts, but that is particularly difficult for us. Republics are fragile structures that are only able to breathe in a virtuous atmosphere. Outside of it they die or become something else.

In the Brazil of ‘Lula’ da Silva and his Odebrecht cronies more or less the same thing happens as in Argentina. Cheating, bribes, massive frauds were the order of the day, but to the supporters of the charismatic leader those violations of the law made no difference. Just recently it was learned that Lula himself, against the opinions of his own technicians, gave instructions for the National Bank for Economic and Social Development of Brazil (BNDES) to lend 600 million dollars to Cuba under very favorable conditions.

The objective was to put the development of Cuba’s Mariel Port in the hands of Odebrecht, knowing that the island could not repay the loan. A substantial part of that credit returned to Brazil in the pockets of corrupt politicians. It was the slice that Odebrecht distributed clandestinely, paid for with the taxes of the mocked Brazilian people. The project, by the way, carried out by a developer that would charge reasonable profits, cost half the amount paid to the Brazilian company.

Despite this filthiness, Lula headed the polls until the courts forbade him to run for president. After this impediment for corruption, imposed by Sergio Moro, an exemplary judge who set up the criminal investigation called the Lava Jato, and who has faced the political mafias of the Workers’ Party with enormous courage, Lula has chosen Professor Fernando Haddad to replace him. Haddad is a radical political professor, former failed mayor of Sao Paulo, also with pending charges of corruption against him. Simultaneously, he has recruited the young journalist Manuela d’Avila, deputy star of the Communist Party of Brazil, as Haddad’s vice president. The selection of the pair shows how things really work. Capital is terrified and is running out of the country through all the available holes. As has been said so many times, “there is no animal more cowardly than a million dollars.”

At the other end of the electoral spectrum, Jair Bolsonaro, the candidate of the right in October’s upcoming elections, a former captain of paratroopers, doesn’t respect the current legality too much either. He speaks with nostalgia of the time of the military dictatorship, justifies the torture, at the time had phrases of praise for Hugo Chávez, and regretted that the army had not shot 30,000 people, including former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, whom he accused of connivance with the Workers’ Party. Meanwhile, former General Hamilton Mourao, his vice president, mumbles badly about the chances of a coup if they lose the election for alleged fraud. Some in Brazil call Bolsonaro the Brazilian Trump. May God have mercy on our souls.

It is very possible that we are again entering a populist cycle. Macri in Argentina could lose power as a result of the economic crisis. Haddad could defeat Bolsonaro and establish a leftist populist regime. Or Bolsonaro could defeat Haddad — they are tied in the polls — and start a kind of right-wing populist  of a republic. Andrés Manuel López Obrador has legitimately won the Mexican elections and is not expected to govern with prudence.

In Latin America, all the the evil dictators — Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega, Evo Morales, Raul Castro and his handpicked Diaz-Canel — don’t even have to sit patiently at the doors of their houses and wait for the corpses of their enemies to pass by. All they have to do is entrench themselves in power and wait for a new populist cycle. Which we are in.


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