Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It Can Be Dangerous To Vote Against Something Without Knowing What It Is Your Voting For.

For months now I have been pondering the question: Why is the socialist model of government becoming so popular in Latin America? Many reasons have popped in and out of my mind and I have been trying to put my thoughts into words....But the words kept eluding me. A few days ago, I stumbled across an article written by Carlos Alberto Montaner titled, Neofascism intent on destroying democracy. In this essay Montaner outlined how Europe fell into the Neofascism trap after World War One and a few things that Latin America has in common today, and I quote "frustration in the face of the persistent poverty among a substantial part of society, disorder and state inefficiency, the lack of opportunities and generalized corruption". These were the words I was looking for. So simple and so true. These un-faced problems create the breding ground for socialistic ideas that open the door to future fascism.

In my opinion, you cannot call the victory in Ecuador by Rafeal Correa in November, a mandate by the people who were agreeing with his ideas for change. For the reasons quoted above the people were and are frustrated. They voted against something, and for a change, and for the most part, I don't believe they had any idea what that change would be or where it would take them. Most people I have met, have no interest in politics and only vote because it is mandatory.

So....who is to blame for the sorry state of affairs that set the stage for the Correa win in November? In my opinion, it is the past governments from the federal down to the city, and the big corporations who control the economy, but don´t give enough back to help develop the future work force. In my opinion, these two groups are the root cause of the social dissatisfaction that we experience today. They failed to pay attention to the basic needs of the people. And when you think about it, the solutions are fairly simple, if the problems are attacked before the people reach that point where they no longer have hope or faith in their government.

I don't believe we necessarily need to hit bottom before we are jolted back to reality. There seems to be a tendency with our new president to take us on the same path as Venezuela. If we are smart we need to learn the truth of where Hugo Chavez has taken his country in the past eight years before we follow blindly down the same road. This knowledge could be our best defense against the best laid plans of our new president.


  1. Hi Roberto, I cannot resist responding to your post, share my opinions, and provide a different viewpoint. The reason that the socialist model has become so popular in Latin America is, as you said, because the people are tired and frustrated with the corruption and the government not doing anything to help them. However, the socialism that they are seeking is not fascism, it is participatory democracy and a government that listens to the people. And this is exactly what Chavez is giving the people of Venezuela, and the hope he is giving to the rest of Latin America. Chavez rose to power after over ten years of escalating protests in Venezuela by the people demanding democracy and fighting against neoliberalism. Last night I saw a screening of the film "Venezuela Bolivariana: People and the Struggle in the Fourth World War", which is excellent and you should see it if you get a chance. Here is the truth about where Hugo Chavez has taken Venezuela, through the misiones his government has been putting in place since 2003:
    3000 primary schools have been built in poor rural and poor urban areas
    education spending has risen to 6% of GDP, from 3.9%
    primary school attendance has risen 25%
    1 million people have been taught to read
    1.4 million people have completed high school
    4,400 community health clinics have been built
    free medical treatment and health education is available for everyone
    free prescription drugs
    free treatment for cancer and HIV
    subsidized food and nutrition for the poor, and 8 million people receive subsidized food
    post natal mortality rates have decreased by 38%
    Micro-credit available to all, especially women
    that is just to name a few.
    The people who oppose Chavez are the corrupt rich elites who don't like that he is taking money away from them and sharing it with the poor. For more information, see: http://www.gobiernoenlinea.ve/miscelaneas/misiones.html

    Ecuador shares many of the same corruption that especially results from an oil regime, and if Correa is intending to take Ecuador down the same path as Chavez, and he manages to do it against the opposition from the elites, then this will be a miracle for the people of Ecuador. Changes in the constitution and the constitional assembly are necessary to rid the government of the corrupt elite and replace them with elected officials who are responsible to the people. Correa promises to do this, and many of the people of Ecuador have hope in him. Not everyone voted against something, many voted FOR something. They voted for the promise of a country where their voice really counts, and the promise of a government who genuinely tries to meet their needs. I sincerely hope that he succeeds. This is definitely a road that I want Ecuador to go down.

    Here is another link with some interesting articles:

  2. Debra...thanks for taking the time and effort to comment. Your last sentence, compels me to ask...Do you live in Ecuador? I feel that this is important when you say, "This is definitely a road that I want Ecuador to go down".

    I am with you for the first 75 words of your comment, but after that you lose me. In my opinion I would change one word in the first part of your next sentence. "And this is exactly (NOT) what Chavez is giving the people of Venezuela". You continue..."and the hope he is giving to the rest of Latin America". Here in Ecuador he is not giving hope...the thinking people are scared. In fact that seems to be Correa's biggest nightmare...The press keeps insisting that what he is doing is what Chavez did in Venezuela, and Castro in Cuba. And Correa has to keep defending himself, by saying it is not true....But is it? There is opposition here....Not everyone is putting his head in the sand.

    I am not an expert on Venezuela, but I have read enough to know that all that is written on the Government web site that you gave is not true. I do do not know if anyone from Venezuela reads this blog, but if they do I hope they leave a comment.

    I would however like to comment on one point that you made.

    Regarding elementary school enrolment...if you scroll down to the chart on this link you will see that enrolment has increased from 1999-2004 less than 500,000 which is a far cry from 25%. For the years 2003 and 2004 there was very little increase if any.

    If you are interested is learning more of what I believe is really the situation in Venezuela, here are some links.

    |..Venezuela News and Views>.
    2..Caracas Chronicles>.

  3. Roberto, for a very succinct view of why socialism does not work, read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. When people have no need to produce, and indeed their production is vilified, they will not bother to try. Socialism kills the human spirit.

  4. Thanks Dagneyt for your comment. I read Atlas Shrugged 20 or 30 years ago. A great story and full of truths. It is probably time to pull it off the shelf and read it again.

  5. Hi Roberto,
    Sorry for the delay in responding...have been very busy. I'm studying a masters in Latin American development (I emailed you about the books on LP a couple of months ago). I don't live in Ecuador right now, but I have traveled there a bit, am going back this summer, have a few friends there, and intend to live there when I am finished my degree. I have also been to Venezuela, and have talked to people working in the missiones and the poor barrios and they have told me they are amazed at the hope that the people have and the changes in their attitudes and lives. I have also talked to Venezuelan and Ecuadorian activists here in London who have told me how much hope the majority of the Latin people have in what Chavez is trying to do. I say the majority, because the ones that are wealthy, the ones that are currently in government, owners of big companies, owners of the press, and especially the US government, are not happy, and therefore do what they can to slander what Chavez is doing. I'm not saying that I agree with all of his tactics and he has made some mistakes along the way, but I agree with his efforts to get rid of corruption and decrease the inequality in the region.

    While Correa has similar rhetoric, his economic background will give him a more pragmatic edge, in my opinion, but I hope he also succeeds in getting rid of the corruption in Ecuador's government, and implement effective income distribution policies. This requires an element of socialism. Inequality and poverty means the country must be governed from the left, and social improvements need to take precedence over capitalist gains by the elite. This is not to say that socialism and capitalism cannot live together, like they do in most developed countries (Canada and the US included), but until the astonishing level of inequality in the region is diminished, socialism must prevail.
    I hope I make it down to Banos one of these days so we can have a nice chat about it all! :o)

    P.S. Here's another interesting article to read: