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A Berlin Wall Moment Beckons for the Americas

By: Antón Toursinov - @atoursinov - Nov 17, 2014, 9:16 am
Latin America awaits the fall of its own walls of socialism. (Flickr)
Latin America awaits the fall of its own totalitarian walls. (Flickr)

EspañolOn November 9, the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, known in the West as the Wall of Shame. This totalitarian monstrosity was erected by the East German military in the early morning of August 13, 1961, on orders from the Soviet Union. Although originally nothing more than a treacherous barbed wire fence, over the next 10 years it began to take the form we know of today.

Much has been written about life behind the wall, of the historical role the wall played in the fall of socialism, and the reasons it finally collapsed. However, it is important to discuss the relevance of this event for Latin America, a region littered with Marxist groups and populist governments.

The Soviet Union — which died in 1986, and whose rotting corpse was finally buried in 1991 — was a nearly inexhaustible source of economic support for parasites the world over. Her foreign policy was the most imperialist in the history of humanity, including great advances in the Western Hemisphere. The success of the export, or imposition, of socialism in Cuba in 1961 was part of an expansion plan called “Jihad against capitalism,” and the Soviets’ impressive media campaign managed to manipulate millions of people around the world, especially in impoverished Latin America.

Salvador Allende in Chile, Maurice Bishop in Granada, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and guerrilla in Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador were all ideologically and economically supported by the KGB. In fact, these historical and social aberrations would not have been possible without Soviet financing via Cuba, and the expansion of Castro-style ideological training in the Americas.

However, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Soviets themselves understood they had been duped by the 1917 Russian Revolution. Reality did not match the picture painted by aggressive socialist propaganda. Beginning in 1986, the USSR became mired in a crisis that was impossible to escape, and assistance to the “third world” was drastically reduced. In 1991, the democratic and anti-communist Russian President Boris Yeltsin cut off all funding to totalitarian regimes and guerrilla groups.

This is when the populist governments of Latin America began to fall: Ortega lost funding and lost the election; in Central America the guerrilla suffered military defeats, and opted to infiltrate the political sphere; in Colombia the FARC were greatly diminished, and began to seek other sources of funding (drug trafficking, kidnapping, and robbery).

The dramatic case of Cuba, which fell into an economic crisis after her GDP dropped by more than 11 percent between 1991 and 1993, demonstrates the imprudence of being economically dependent on others.

One got the impression that socialism and all its derivatives had gradually disappeared — that history had proved the monstrous nature of totalitarianism, economic planning, and bread and circuses. Anything that is incapable of respecting the rights of others and that completely controls the lives and destinies of the populace will not allow humanity to progress. Socialism, in all its forms, should be wiped off the political map of the continent.

But human nature often runs counter to common sense. The latter half of the 1990s saw the resurgence of populist politicians, espousing the tenants of “21st-century socialism.” The masses were eager to hear, “if someone is lacking, it is due to the excesses of another,” and were very receptive to talk of wealth redistribution — not generated by industrial production, as was posited by Marx, but by the exploitation of the continent’s nonrenewable natural resources.

Obviously the Castros would like to maintain the parasitic nature of the Cuban economy, at the cost of the oil profits of other countries. It is also clear that this interest prompted Castro to promote Chavismo in Venezuela, a country rich in natural resources. Their business with Petrocaribe was devised as an alternative source of funding after the fall of the Wall of Shame, allowing political and social instability to continue in the region.

Perhaps it is because of their age, but the Castros care very little that this delicately woven network is merely a blemish on this point in history. They and their allies have sold their consciences as they continue to take advantage of the misery and poverty of others. Perhaps Gloria Álvarez is right to believe that only technology will end acquiescence and unravel the scourge of populism in the Americas.

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

Antón Toursinov Antón Toursinov

Antón Toursinov has a PhD in philology and chairs the linguistics postgraduate program at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. His research area is discourse analysis, focusing on argumentation and manipulation within political discourse. Follow @atoursinov.