Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez
This current year has been welcomed across Latin America with festivities around the “Bicentennial of Independence of the Countries of South America.”
A brief review of this two-hundred year history makes sense of the question posed in my title, “What are we celebrating?”
Latin America has had time to teach to the world something better regarding politics than what is exhibited today.
Its earth is fertile with dictators, demagogues and corrupt politicians, as well as parties eternally clinging onto power, such as Mexico’s PRI, only to mention the one that was in power for the longest time.
With the adoption of the neoliberal system over a large part of the continent in the 1990s, this resulted in the greatest disparity of any region in the world between the very rich and the masses of the very poor.
It is a region that has seen its politicians achieve a control over the media that is unthinkable in any other part of the world, with our leaders worrying more about their popularity ratings than the quality of their governance on behalf of their people.
It’s also a region where a president can become a specialist in international issues while forgetting the destiny of his own country completely.
Lastly, the celebration is summed up with the inclusion of the Latin American political slogan “Socialism in the 21st century.” It is a slogan that I —a 34-year-old adult who has never left socialist Cuba— still don’t understand.
In Latin America respect for institutions and the elimination of caudillo-ism are unresolved issues in our politics. Only by tackling these will be able to move from endemic corruption to the true rule of law, where respect for one’s fellow human being is the maxim of the countries of the region.
Is this a “celebration” of a freedom that still hasn’t arrived in Latin America? Though I don’t want to be a wet blanket, I continue to raise the question…what are we celebrating?
I’m taken aback every time that I hear someone talk about this commemoration.