The controversial debate about a recent speech by Bolivian President Evo Morales also rebounded in the pages of Havana Times. I found both the diary entry by Yusimi Rodriguez and the comment by Caridad interesting. I agree with Yusimi about the hopes that were originally planted by the popular Bolivian president.
Some commentators have pointed out —correctly, I believe— that the discussion around the possible homophobic content in several moments of the Bolivian leader’s speech at the Summit of the Peoples for the Rights of Mother Earth served to divert attention from the central problems being analyzed at that conference.
Other people —also correct, I believe— asserted that Morales made a tremendous political error when he repeated an “urban legend” in his address when he linked First World eating habits with certain sexual qualities, and even with baldness.
I find any generalization particularly appalling concerning the virtues and defects of groups of people based on their sexual orientation, nutritional habits or the hair density of their scalp. I believe that people are good as people in accordance with what each one of them carries in their heart, and not based on trivialities like those mentioned. I don’t believe that people who are bald or gay are in and of themselves worse people or less healthy than “others”…
The problem of healthy eating habits is a very distinct issue, but I don’t believe that even with this it is appropriate to speak of male “northerners” as if they were a monolithic group of people with certain tendencies to lose their manliness. The same reasoning is applicable to indigenous people, who are “very healthy” —according to Morales— because they drink “chicha” instead of Coca Cola.
What seriously worries me is the destiny of the left.
After 1990, the Latin American and world left began a slow process of rebirth. In 1994 the controversial Zapatista rebellion emerged in Chiapas, and later the Social Forums and other initiatives led by popular and community movements arose (including movements of indigenous peoples, LGBT sexual rights activists, feminists, campesinos, environmentalists, unionized workers, liberation theologians, etc.).
This was the gestation of a left that was different from traditional social democratic moderation or the “democratic centralism” of Bolsheviks; it was a left based on diversity, autonomy and dialogue. This global process had particular expressions in each country, and in Latin America it facilitated the appearance of popular coalitions that entered “Grand Politics” with leaders such as Morales, Chavez and Correa.
The dilemmas faced by left forces and charismatic leaders in power are complex; these include the psychological and spiritual dimensions of those at the helm.
There is still even discussion about the compatibility of the left and “Grand Politics” (an eternally controversial issue), but it is clear that the speech by Morales —more than helping to bring about unity within diversity— generated important splits within the left itself. And this fact has nothing to do with defending Coca Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken.