Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Latin American populist trio

Some of the guys that may annoy me most are those individuals who pretend to play the role of Messiah when elected to a popular position. And although these individuals have proven to be the ones that impact more negatively their respective jurisdictions, for some reason people in developing countries still believe in their ideals and want them to be their rulers.
See the case of Venezuela, for example, where Hugo Chávez (picture above, left) brainwashed the vast majority of the population and imposed a socialist rule where all kind of private industry is becoming the State's property. Besides, this individual has full power of enacting whatever he wants, without passing that through any kind of Congress before.
Evo Morales (picture above, right) is pretty much imposing the same philosophy in Bolivia (very likely under Chávez's orders). First to be nationalized was hydrocarbon, then mining, then whatever he wants to own. His strategy is even better: to nationalize anything he wants, without paying any indemnity to the original investors. That's a deal.
It's no surprise that those two countries keep some of the highest inflation rates in the region.
What is a surprise is that the movement keeps spreading all over Latin America. Although, fortunately, the populist intervention wasn't successful in Mexico, Peru and Colombia (countries where presidential elections were held last year, and all of which had at least one populist candidate), Ecuadorans did take the bait of populism and voted Rafael Correa (picture above, center) as their President, an individual with very close ties to Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales.
Correa took office as president on January 15, 2007, but way before that date it was obvious that he wanted to shift the future of Ecuador towards socialism, pretty much like Chavez's ideas in Venezuela.
He didn't disappoint. Barely a month after starting his duties as head of State, he openly admitted that his intentions are to implement a "21st century socialist government that is succeeding in all Latin America and the world" (for some unknown reason, I don't feel that this model has been implemented in many countries, but only in Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. Is that a whole world?). Moreover, he states that he'll impose a fair system in which "the rich pay more to subsidize poor", some sort of coarse Robin Hood (but not an aquatic one).
Who knows what will be next? Is it that the nationalization syndrome will also affect Ecuador at some point of the upcoming 4 years in which Correa will serve as president? Let's wait and see. Meanwhile, good luck to the Ecuadorans with this guy. May populism be good for you.


At 9:18 PM , Anonymous Rockwell said...

I doubt that any of these other presidents is taking orders from Chavez, just like they don't take orders from Castro. But of course, both those leaders have been influential in Latin America's leftward turn.

Chavez is a mixed bag. His nationalization binge and war against the Venezuelan media should be watched closely, as with his move to rule by decree.

However, he has won just about every electoral contest since 1998 with more than 60 percent of the populace backing him including the fall election in 2006 -- all elections which seem to be fair to outside observers.

Many of these leaders are more complex than what you hear about in the conservative mainstream media.

At 10:43 AM , Blogger Eddie said...

Hi Rockwell...

First of all, thanks for visiting the page and thanks for leaving a comment. I appreciate them!

Well, although I'd really like to speak good about Chavez's policies, I simply can't. I had the opportunity of visiting Venezuela before and during his rule, and the difference is immense. Poor people aren't getting any richer, but the whole country is gradually sinking in an economic slowdown.

It's true, Chavez has won all of the recent electoral contests (although some Venezuelans claim that the process was not as clean as they'd wish it to be, but I can't know whether their claims are true or not). I'd dare to say that the reason for it is because he sells poor people the idea of ruining the rich. In countries where the jealousy rule and the rich people are seen as evil and enslavers (such as most countries in Latin America), that formula really pays. And Chavez knows that.

The situation in Venezuela is really bad. I heard that Chavez introduced recently a series of economic policies in which prices are fixed, and producers are forced to sell at or below their production costs. I really fear that such situation will lead to civil unrests at a certain point in the future, as businesses will have to close and unemployment will reach record-highs.

Future is uncertain under these conditions. And Chavez just keeps leading Venezuela to an autocracy. As you say, it'll be important to keep a close eye on his movements.

Thanks for your comments! Please come back soon...

At 8:37 PM , Anonymous Rockwell said...

And here we are again... thanks for the invitation.

I too have been to Venezuela and I remain unconvinced that Chavez is either the savior or the devil. The old aristocracy created many of the problems and they continue to create problems, fighting Chavez every step of the way.

And Chavez has used questionable tactics in response.

Also, there has been civil unrest off and on during much of the past six years... through the national strike period and beyond.

With fewer checks on his power, we will get to see now what Chavez can do both for ill or good. As you say, the signs are not good, but we have to remember that in certain quarters, all the news we receive is slanted.

At 9:04 PM , Anonymous Rockwell said...


So with a little push here and some other inspiration... you have me writing items on Venezuela.
You can see one of them here.

Chavez is definitely a provocative figure.


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