Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I’m from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

Ecuador: The Truth That Sets Us Free

Armando Chaguaceda

Rafael Correa. Photo: El ciudadano.gob.ec

HAVANA TIMES — Two years ago, Ivette Sosa Frutos and I co-wrote a text which sketched out a balance of Ecuador’s “Citizen’s Revolution.” [1] In it, we acknowledged its important achievements – the handling of macroeconomic issues, its public administration and social policies – while warning of the authoritarian and populist tendencies of Rafael Correa’s leadership. For better and for worse, time has proven both our perspectives right.

Because of the professional and civil background of its bureaucracy, Correa’s leadership has been infinitely superior to other progressive movements – and to Cuba – in terms of its “administration of things.” In terms of “governing human beings,” however, and without (yet) having reached anything comparable to what we see among its regional allies, Ecuador appears to be moving towards the undermining of rights and institutions that are basic in any democracy: the right to associate, demonstrate and express one’s opinions. We are not referring to the “rights of the Right” exclusively, but to a curtailment of social autonomy and the right to protest.

Today, the same indigenous, environmental and urban movements that once faced up to neo-liberal governments are rallying in Quito and several other regions of the Andean country. In addition to repressive measures and the Ecuadorian government’s refusal to engage in talks, they are meeting with the simplistic and complete dismissal of a segment of the regional Left (which portrays them as agents of imperialism) and local mass media (including Telesur). Others, including renowned figures and academic institutions addicted to post-colonial and allegedly emancipatory rhetoric – simply remain quiet.

One is tempted to ask the “comrades” and colleagues who maintain these postures the following: how long will you go on believing that repression is reprehensible only when (regrettably) practiced by the Right? Why do you continue to announce that, after decades of failed guerrilla movements and bloody dictatorships, you have truthfully accepted the value of democratic culture? What moral authority do we have to condemn Latin American oligarchs when, in a little over decade of progressive leadership, the means of exercising power have been as uncivil as those of the fascists and bankers?

The Left – through its struggles, projects and hopes – is needed to push a continent replete with State and market authoritarianism – as well as people who have been deprived of their rights, from Ayotzinapa to San Cristobal, through the streets of Havana to the mines of Peru.

Not everything is lost, as revealed by the stance of the largest network for Latin American studies in the world before the threat to deport academic and activist Manuela Picq, [2] or by the solidarity shown by prestigious progressive intellectuals in light of the threats leveled at renowned NGOs by the Bolivian president. [3] The truth, freeing us from dogma and complicity, is finding its way. That is why I believe there is no reason to abjure or be ashamed of our left-wing ideas about democracy, progress and social justice.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In that respect there is no difference between left and right.
    The theoretical socialists dream of their Utopia, but when they achieve if, they move inexorably towards dictatorship. Initially they in their endeavors to impose their views upon others encourage development of supporting social organizations, then they start to restrict the freedoms of those of differing political persuasion, eventually banning them.
    In Cuba, the power and control held by the Castro family regime is absolute and the Communist Party of Cuba adheres to it. Other socialist leaders in South American countries do not criticize such dictatorship, they envy it! So what is different about Correa?
    Chavez was a deep admirer of the Castro dictatorship and bequeathed his desire to emulate it to Maduro. From there it has spread to others and if not opposed will lead to a South America socialist Hydra.

  • N.J. Marti

    Socialism is sold to the masses as their salvation in poor countries. Sadly Socialism is not a wealth builder, it is a distribution system they find out. An ideal power position to be exploited by those that would rule. Equality is over rated. What the masses need are fair rules, open markets and the right to rise. All these things can be achieved in a liberal democracy with support for education and health care.

  • Hubert Gieschen

    I wonder how many HT readers have ever heard of Simonetta
    Sommaruga? She is currently the president of Switzerland. This is
    a merely functional post held for one year only. The Swiss president
    is chosen from the ranks of the seven (yes only seven !) members of
    the Swiss government.

    There was also the old Roman republic. It did not have a head of state. Instead it was headed by two consuls. They served for one year only. In times of
    emergency for six months only a dictator would be chosen.

    Neither Switzerland nor the Roman republic are anywhere near perfect. But what they have in common is a desire to restrict the political power of individuals.

    Now, socialism. It has something to do with the collective, does it not. Of course. So, how ironic that those Latin American leaders who claim to be
    adhering to socialism from Bolivia to Nicaragua and Ecuador to
    Venezuela dismiss the idea of the collective leadership and consider
    themselves irreplaceable with their desire for effectively unlimited
    one-man presidential rule.

    In my view a socialist system would adopt a more collegial system where the presidency rotates swiftly and the role of the office holder would be to preside
    over meetings and proceedings but little more.