Twenty-first-century socialism in Latin America actually consists of five socialisms, as many as the countries that constitute that *caudillo*-led, anti-republican, chaotic and authoritarian little world.
They unite in anti-Americanism, in the conviction that individuals must be at the service of the State, not the opposite, in their contempt for the market and in the superstition that the *caudillo* knows exactly what benefits or hurts all citizens, but they’re very different.
The governments that compose it are Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The first one is Cuba, of course. Without the Cuban dictatorship, the other socialisms wouldn’t exist.
Cuba delivers to the other four countries what it knows how to do with great skill: strategic leadership, intelligence chores, methods of political and social control, institutional carpentry, propaganda and international aid networks. It also contributes health personnel and sports training. But that’s only a cover, the least important contribution.
Cuba teaches everything it learned from the Soviet Union in its 30 years of complicity with the communist world.
The great paradox is that Raúl Castro stopped being a Marxist-Leninist and regrets the days when he and his brother irresponsibly pushed the island in the direction of communism, but the only merchandise he has to sell is the manufacture of totalitarian cages like the one that destroyed Cuba. For that, Hugo Chávez pays him regally: 108,000 barrels of crude oil a day, plus other covert forms of subsidy and corruption that raise the final figureto more than $5 billion per year. Raúl does not share the plans of world conquest that Chávez caresses, but the customer is always right and Chávez is not just “the client,” he’s the only client Cuba has.
Chávez sees himself as Fidel’s hand-picked heir. His delirious fantasy is to triumph where Moscow failed. He wants to build and direct an anti-Western camp big enough for the Iranian theocracy, the North Korean madhouse, Zimbabwe, the Belarussian tyranny and anyone who hates the liberal democracies. He considers himself a Marxist-Leninist — no need to question his own self-definition — but does not seek ideological uniformity. He seeks the creation of a bloc united by the rejection of the political model wrought by the West during the Enlightenment.
Evo Morales’ problem is different. He hates modernity, progress, Western development. He loves coca, reveres the Pachamama (the world goddess) and would like to return to the barter system. He dreams of returning to an idyllic past where pre-Columbian values are revived. His socialism is not that of the 21st century, really, but that of the 15th century, before the arrival of Pizarro, whom he called the exponent of the “culture of death,” when Aymarás and Quechuas lived in an Andean paradise, a glorious kingdom of the “culture of life.”
Rafael Correa’s socialist experiment in Ecuador has been eloquently defined by René Ramírez, the official in charge of Ecuador’s National Secretariat of Planning and Development (SENPLADES): The New Socialism is a “republican biosocialism aimed at building a biopolis, a society of bio-knowledge, of ecotourist services for the community and agro-ecological products, freeing time for creative idleness, for eroticism, arts and crafts, for existential research, for partying and celebration, for workers’ bashes.” (My God, what a sorry country!)
Like Raúl Castro, Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega stopped believing in communism but did not transform himself into a democrat. Today, he is a neo-Somozan.
He wants to stay in power at any cost so he can rule and enrich himself.
That’s his 21st-century socialism. For that, he has control of the courts of justice and a key element that the Somoza family also utilized with great skill: corruption. Ortega bribes parliamentarians, judges, journalists and voters.
The amount at his disposal for the purchase and sale of consciences and wills is $1 billion per year, supplied by his mentor, Hugo Chávez. That’s
a lot of cash in a very poor country, but if that money ever ceases to arrive, his regime would founder swiftly.
THE MIAMI HERALD