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Latin-American Progressives Are as Paranoid as Ever

By: Javier Garay - @Crittiko - Oct 9, 2014, 11:16 am
progresistas elap
“Progressives” from all over Latin America descended on Quito for a two-day conference. (ELAP 2014)

EspañolThe Latin-American Progressives Conference (ELAP 2014) was held on September 29-30 in Quito, Ecuador. Representatives from Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Greece, and Spain attended the two-day event. Also present were former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, former Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, Spanish European Parliament member Pablo Iglesias, and Argentinean sociologist Atilio Borón.

In other words, Marxism in full force. It was more of a strategic meeting than anything else, which is natural for organizations of this type that are created to achieve political power. In fact, the stated objective of the conference was to confront what Latin-American progressives perceive as the rise of the “right.”

The conference, however, can best be understood as a reflection of the deficiencies of Latin-American progressivism, such as the absence of an alternative plan to improve the lives of citizens.

The results of the event were not surprising. Before the conference began, it was announced that the event would confront attempts to “destabilize” progressive governments through what is referred to as “soft coups” by the “right.” Similarly, the group would come together to denounce the United States and its purported aggression toward Latin America.

And that’s exactly what they did. Two days of pure demagoguery produced the Quito Declaration, endorsed by the populist governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The group announced its support for the peace process in Colombia, and denounced “colonialism” in Puerto Rico, Chevron’s refusal to pay the fine imposed by “independent” Ecuadoran courts, and the “vulture funds” in Argentina.

Once again, populist Latin-American progressivism laid bare its worst features, including its paranoid worldview. According to Latin-American progressives, all of the problems that afflict these governments cannot be attributed to the ineptitude of their leaders, nor the terrible ideas they believe in, but must be the result of the dark hand of the United States, multinational corporations, or local opposition.

Instead of analyzing the actual reasons behind the police riots that took place in Ecuador three years ago, everything was reduced to a conspiracy theory that prompted further protests and claims of victimization from progressives — not against a specific group or individual, but against the “system” or the “right.”

It is a superficial progressivism. Their leaders can’t see beyond their own noses, and they don’t understand the complex situations that have unfolded in Puerto Rico, with Chevron in Ecuador, or in Argentina. The peace process in Colombia is a perfect example. Latin America’s superficial “progressive” leaders confuse the peace process with peace itself.

Latin-American progressives have one thing in common: the search for enemies that allow them to deflect responsibility and place blame on external governments, entities, and phenomena. These supposed enemies will never respond, because they are not the true guilty parties. This strategy, however, allows progressives to maintain the illusion that their problems are not their own fault, and can blame anything other than their own politics.

The Quito conference also demonstrated the lack of a viable alternative for the improvement of the quality of life of Latin-American citizens.

The governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina have demonstrated the only thing they know how to do is eliminate freedom. They have led their respective economies to the brink of bankruptcy, persecuted their political opponents, destroyed any shred of independence among different branches of government, and eliminated freedom of expression.

They say they are against “neocolonialism,” but they implement the same strategies that have already been implemented in the current system. They reject the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, but they propose the creation of the Bank of the South and reserve funds for South America. They are not interested in exploring the shortcomings of the existing system. Instead, they propose measures that will have the same problems.

Their lack of critical analysis of complex problems, as well as a penchant for relying on conspiracy theories, results in proposals that are not based in voluntary cooperation. Instead, they promote policies based on their hatred and envy of foreigners and those who have experienced economic success. The only thing they promote is the sort of authoritarian society they claim to hate, like the National Socialism of the 1940s in Germany.

Hopefully there will be more progressive Latin-American conferences to come. Their own words and actions are evidence enough of their deficiency and inability to achieve their stated goals.

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood.

Javier Garay Javier Garay

Javier Garay is a professor at the Externado University of Colombia. He has written two books on international issues, such as development, after his doctoral dissertation focused on the same topic. Follow him on Twitter @crittiko and through his personal blog, Crittiko.