The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of twentieth century socialism, a phenomenon that was accompanied by the widespread demolition of statues of Lenin and Stalin. In the case of 21st century socialism, Ecuador’s removal of the statue of Néstor Kirchner, former president of Argentina, might serve as a great marker to confirm the end of the once-heralded “Pink Tide” on the South American continent.
It cost more than USD $43 million to build the Unasur building, the Union of South American Nations, with the supposed purpose of putting together a regional political project. Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, was commemorated there, until the current president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, announced that he would remove the statue.
Como todos conocen, mi intención es que el edificio de 40 millones de dólares que nuestro país entregó como sede para @unasur, pase a la Universidad Indígena del Ecuador. Además, retiraremos la estatua de Néstor Kirchner. Él no representa los valores de nuestros pueblos.
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) March 14, 2019
In a statement issued to a radio and television station, Moreno announced to Ecuador the “definitive withdrawal from Unasur…We will stop participating in all the activities of that organization. We won’t be sending a single penny more, or any contribution to the budget of that organization,” he added.
Moreno also denounced abuses committed within the organization, implicating a bureaucracy which, for the most part, was accountable to regional governments of the left over the course of more than a decade. Moreno deemed the decline of the organization to be a consequence of “some irresponsible leaders who were infatuated by naming their friends to the [General] Secretariat, again replicating the worst vices of 21st century socialism.”
Estimados compatriotas, por caprichos de algunos mandatarios irresponsables, @unasur se transformó en una plataforma política que destruyó el sueño de integración que nos vendieron. Por eso, hemos iniciado los procedimientos internos para salir oficialmente del Tratado de UNASUR. pic.twitter.com/XQ20v1UAY7
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) March 14, 2019
Moreno’s recent move represents a spirited denunciation of 21st century socialism, both as an ideology and as a political project.
Currently, this system that was once financed with Venezuelan oil riches, faces a critical moment. Its ideology is dead. Fidel Castro with it, and the man he assigned as his successor, Lula da Silva, has been imprisoned and convicted for acts of corruption committed during his government.
Now Unasur finds itself without a headquarters. Ecuador owns the building, which Moreno deemed an “ode to waste”, as he lamented that Ecuador had allocated more than USD $40 million to its construction. Now they will ask for the return of the building to their country.
This phenomenon of the demolition of statues as a symbol of the fall of political projects was commemorated with precision in the film “Goodbye Lenin”, where a statue of the leader of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, is removed by helicopter.
Today another Lenin, Lenin Moreno, is also saying goodbye; not to his namesake but to Nestor Kirchner, symbol of South American leftism.
Now, Ecuador will use the building to establish the Indigenous University of Ecuador, something that the president considers more representative of Ecuadorians.
Moreno alleges that Néstor Kirchner “does not represent the values of our people”, and with good reason. Nestor and his wife, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, were embroiled in a slew of corruption scandals during their tenure, which were more serious and more brazen than all but the outrageous machinations of Venezuelan Chavismo.
Moreno now criticizes what he once worked to build
However, although Lenin Moreno currently is seeking to distance himself from the regional project, it is not a minor fact that he was vice president under Rafael Correa and as such part of the government that gave birth to Unasur.
However, since taking office as president, his positions have greatly diverged from those of his predecessor, who was once one of the greatest promoters of 21st century socialism. Several “irregular” policies developed during the Correa government: how to “fudge” figures with respect to the national budget, how to violate the cap on indebtedness established in the Constitution, and how to conduct espionage on your political opponents, among others.
Bolivia defends UNASUR
A few hours after his proclamation, Moreno already faced resistance. After a meeting of leaders of the parliamentary bloc of the governing party in Bolivia, MAS, Movimiento al Socialismo, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Víctor Borda, announced that they have “asked for unity, for a consensus from other countries, so that Unasur can survive again.”
Borda alleges that the breakup of Unasur is a result of some right-wing countries that are trying, in the mind of the Bolivian government, to “destroy Latin American unity” to make way for the creation of Prosur, a project that seeks to get rid of any kind of ideology: a mission supported by the presidents of Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile.
It was Sebastián Piñera, president of Chile, who invited Ecuador to join Prosur. The meeting to discuss its creation will be held on March 21.
Given this, Borda warns that initiatives such as Prosur “obviously will be governed, fundamentally, not by concepts of Latin American integration, but particularly by the law of supply and demand.” That is, the prevalence of the free market.
In the days to come South America will be going through significant changes, including the dismantling of the headquarters of socialism of the 21st century, followed by the reorganization of the center-right governments of the region, which will be reflected in greater economic growth in the region, and greater freedom for the citizens that will live in the Prosur bloc.