After decades of experimenting with communism, socialism, dirigisme, etc., Latin America is starting to rebel against the collectivist norm and assert the importance of freedom and the individual. And it certainly has been a long time coming.
As a Latin I know most of my fellow Spanish ethnics would rather eat broken glass than admit they are wrong. It’s a trait most of Mediterranean cultural heritage share, like emotional hyperbole. A bit wired into the national characters. That’s why there are very few Latin centrists. We tend to passionately pick a lane.
Also, while the rest of Western Europe was neck-deep in The Enlightenment, Spain was still toying with The Inquisition. So if you wonder why Cuba has stayed socialist when the rest of the world including the “Red” Chinese have at least embraced capitalism, well, there is the shorthand of it. Gotta remember too who were left in Cuba when the cream of the entrepreneurial crop, who would have been terrorized under Castro, high-tailed it to Miami and economically revitalized it. The exiles were truly political, not economic, refugees. More of that type of legal immigrant would be quite welcome today.
The remnant marooned in Cuba were the ill-educated campesino class who thought, as their current lot was not so sweet, they would do better under communism. But Fidel, the Soviets, and Karl Marx himself didn’t have anything of value to say to the peasant class. They figured they could take care of themselves, as they always had. Marxism only benefits the pseudointellectual hustler demographic.
That’s why socialism is still taken seriously only in ridiculous places where those hustlers exist like Havana, Managua, and on the faculties of American colleges. Oh yeah, and in the House Democratic Caucus.
The Cubans, just passing the sixtieth year of their Meet the New Boss 1959 revolution, are changing at a snail’s pace. The new guy in power, still under the thumb of old Raul, wants to play footsie with the U.S. while still retaining his police state. The Chicom model. The Trump administration has wisely rejected that scenario and can continue to wait them out. Yes, given the gastronomic choice I mention above, it may be decades more. But they will come around, as Cubans, and Latins for that matter, tend to be a tad on the decadent side. Yes, I know, another stereotype. But if a national stereotype is true, many aren’t, it then becomes only, as Tom Sowell has commented, “a cultural pattern we prefer not to think about.”
Thus the bright lights and the modern car parts of the shining megalopolis of Miami, a mere ninety miles away, will one day beckon enough to overcome the Marxist programming. In an entirely different context it did the same thing for a teenager from Havana in the 1940s. As soon as he legally could, my Dad joined the U.S. Navy in 1944.
The Nicaraguans are practicing a Bolshie medium roast, keeping the disease mostly in house, thus not upsetting the U.S., as in prior days of fun. The aging Danny Ortega and his crew lend lip service, but not much else of any import, to their pals in Havana and Caracas.
And, what hither Caracas today?
As of yesterday the OAS, sadly not a U.S. rubber stamp anymore, has decided to recognize the leader of the opposition Venezuelan Congress, Juan Guaido, as the legitimate interim president. The Brazilian government and our people have already done that. Mr. Guaido has said he is ready to take over and call new elections. Yup, this is where Caracas is right now.
The Chavismo revo was doomed from the start, as its early false hope was propped up by high oil prices that were bound to drop. Hugo himself was a serious Marxist loon with a penchant for silly opera bouffe uniforms and Castro-like eleven-hour speeches that made no sense. Fidel Castro, not Julian. Though the newly minted Dem presidential candidate would go that petty tinhorn route if he thought he could get away with it.
As the experiment went sour, with the all too predictable political tyranny, economic collapse, and public health disaster inherent in socialism, to their credit the Venezuelans didn’t sit idly by like the majority of Cubans over these many years. They started to organize and fought back. Those early efforts to free Venezuela were ignored and actually criticized by the Obama administration, the Dem socialist impulse then covertly executed. Obama did the same in Iran. But the opposition has matured, picked up international support, and now has the strong backing of the U.S. Maduro’s days are numbered in months, not years. His Russian and Iranian buddies won’t be happy about that. But they can pound sand.
The brightest spot on the horizon is Brazil.
One of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations who are supposedly smart money for the 21st century, she has moved from outright corrupt anti-Western and anti-American socialism to champion pro-Western, pro-American policies, and capitalism. This has come to place in the space of one recent election. By the way, notice the BRICs are all market economies. The tide of history turns well, except for blind U.S. Democrats and the sclerotic three Latin countries mentioned above.
Taking up a large portion of South America, maybe her Portuguese, as opposed to Spanish, heritage and language make the difference. Perhaps it’s the fact that her women tend to be of serious beauty and she came up with Bossa Nova, to this music lover the coolest music in the world. As such, one of her main airports isn’t named after a dead politician. It’s named after Antonio Carlos Jobim, the founder, along with Joao Gilberto, of Bossa Nova. Now those are proper priorities.
Regardless of why, their new President Jair Bolsonaro, combined with the dynamic pro-market administration of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, is pathfinding the journey into turning what was once a backwater continent into a potentially free and prosperous zone of nations not too far away from our shores. That can only add to the health of U.S. national security.
For once in geopolitics, Latins are leading the way.
It’s like that pesky armada of 1588 never happened. Kinda.