EspañolSupporters of the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa are seeking a constitutional reform that would allow him to be elected to a third term. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, who’s been in power since 2007, has expelled the opposition from Congress. Bolivian President Evo Morales keeps pushing for indefinite reelection; he’s been in power since 2006.
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Let’s not even talk about Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro, the anointed successor of Hugo Chávez, who rose to power in 1998.
The worst of them all is the Cuban regime, where the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raúl, have governed with an iron fist since 1959.
In all these cases except Cuba, parties or current presidents came to power through an initial election that was clean, and which seduced voters with attractive promises.
But then they changed the rules to stay in power indefinitely.
What’s curious, aside from the obvious similarities between countries, is that each leader took a similar path, which Chavez called “21st century socialism” — attacks on private property, state intervention on the economy, that sometimes, like in Cuba, reach the extremes of communism.
Socialism, from an economic point of view, is about concentrating all power on the state: money is controlled, as is the exchange rate and most production. This is complemented by the harassment of political movements with opposing ideologies. It has been this way since Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union, since Mao Zedong in China, Ceaucescu in Romania and Pol Pot in Cambodia.
Leaders of Latin American are following a similar path, only adding the socialist component: they want absolute power, for indefinite time, but they also want to control the economy and hate private enterprise.
They know that political power, when combined with economic power, is practically unstoppable.