Monday, July 20, 2009

The political capital of Hugo Chavez in Latin America and the Caribbean

TRIBUNE: Santiago Roncagliolo
Recent events in Guatemala, Honduras and Peru the credibility of liberal democracy and reinforcing the popularity of Chavez. Millions of poor and indigenous people point out that liberalism does not offer justice

Santiago Roncagliolo 20/07/2009
"EL PAIS"- Miguel Yuste 40 - 28037 Madrid [España] - Tel. 91 337 8200.
The victim of a murder back from death to blame the president for his country. A group of armed military takes another president of his bed and put on a plane in pajamas. Law enforcement is facing a group of poor farmers and kill dozens of them. No, this is not the James Bond film a dreaded dictator ally against terrorism. It is the only Latin American politics. The first case occurred in May, when a video of the accused lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg from the grave to Guatemala President Alvaro Colom and his environment have planned his murder. Weeks later, in the Peruvian town of Bagua, the protests of indigenous people against the adoption of legislation permitting privatization of land resulted in a dozen dead, according to the government, indigenous leaders have over 30 - and the resignation of Interior Minister. And in early July in Honduras, the clashes between riot forces and followers of deposed president Manuel Zelaya killed a young protester. The political and judicial systems of these cases are determined. But in terms of public opinion, mark a turning point in the political discourse of the region. For years, the major alarms democratic governance in Latin America, have jumped in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, whose leaders to follow in handling complaints by regular judicial, legislative, executive and even elections. Yet in the three cases mentioned, these are the institutions involved. It is democracy that has opened fire on civilians.
This paradox explains the popularity of Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez among the poorest in many countries. To its critics, the draft constitutional ruling that these are only a drive way to his re-election indefinitely. But its advocates consider essential tools for the legal protection of sectors of the population defenseless. His texts establishing new models of public ownership, reinforcing the role of government to the private traders and defend the right of indigenous peoples to decide on their land. By contrast, the clashes of Bagua state that in a democratic state farmers have to die and kill to defend that right. But if a case has given legitimacy to the discourse of the leader of Latin America, has been to Honduras. The new president, Roberto Micheletti, has been careful to describe his taking command as a "constitutional succession", based on a judicial ruling against the president-elect Manuel Zelaya. The reason for this ruling was to call a referendum. Indeed, the fit of the constitutional referendum was quite doubtful. But the image of a battalion avoiding bullets is not about elections to be much more digestible. To remove the elected president, the institutions put in question the very definition of democracy: government of the people, the system in which citizens can participate in decisions that affect them, some as basic as who is their president. Micheletti feared that if Hugo Chávez won office in Honduras, you can rest easy. Thanks to him, Chavez has gained legitimacy in the region. The Venezuelan president was the first to impose economic sanctions on Honduras, and has demanded a more resolute attitude of lukewarm United States, which had reversed the usual roles. As if this were not enough, their warnings of murders and conspiracies that could be ruled out until June as a paranoia, have become reality. Nobody could have done a favor so big and so like the bolivarian Micheletti. Chavez's speech was the main beneficiary of the facts of Guatemala, Honduras and Peru because the credibility of all democratic institutions. The balance of power system and universal suffrage is desirable because it allows the social changes made without blood. So when you need to spill blood to defend it is a sign that something very bad. The PRI's overwhelming victory in recent elections seems to confirm the depletion Mexican citizen with the unfulfilled promises of a system that at the beginning of the nineties was presented as the direct path to development and prosperity. At birth of the French Revolution, democracy was born with a triple motto: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." The fraternity was already too much to ask, but the conflict between freedom and equality, between liberalism and socialism, defined the twentieth century and continues today at dividing the region with the greatest social inequality on the planet. The political project of Hugo Chávez is to create an egalitarian system, even at the expense of institutions that guarantee individual freedoms. In contrast, the liberal political project has focused on ensuring individual liberties, crucially, private property, even at the expense of social equality.

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