08 February 2014 ~ 0 Comentarios

Parties alternate; systems are replaced

by Carlos Alberto Montaner

In Costa Rica, the runoff will be between two variants of social democracy. Professor and diplomat Luis Guillermo Solís, head of the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC), will face engineer Johnny Araya, former mayor of San José, leader of the National Liberation Party (Liberation). The PAC is a spinoff of Liberation.

Solís seems to be a Keynesian — more government can solve the nation’s problems — while Araya presumably favors a formula close to the market. Whoever wins will respect the law.

What’s at stake is the management of government, not the political model or economic system. On that issue, Costa Rican society pronounced itself overwhelmingly. More than 80 percent of the voters emphatically rejected the Broad Front, Frente Amplio, a local expression of Marxist separation from liberal democracy. 

In contrast, something very different occurred in El Salvador. There, competing for power are teacher Salvador Sánchez Cerén, communist and a former guerrilla commander, who earned almost 50 percent of the votes representing the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), and dentist Norman Quijano, an anticommunist who was the candidate for the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). The two parties were born during the bloody period of the Cold War.

There are some differences, however. Sánchez Serén was a notorious figure in the conflict (he was accused of being directly or indirectly responsible for the murder of hundreds), while Quijano did not take up arms and engaged in sports, in his profession as dentist, and, when the time came, in municipal politics.

In the first round, Sánchez Cerén beat Quijano by 10 percentage points, but two circumstances keep ARENA’s hopes alive: a third contender, the right-wing party of former president Tony Saca, got 11 percent of the votes in an election where 48 percent of registered voters did not cast their ballots. 

Quijano thinks that, if he manages to bring Salvadorans out to vote, he can beat the FMLN. That’s a hugely difficult task, though not impossible.

Nevertheless, the differences between these two figures are abysmal. If Quijano wins, he will try to halt the widespread violence of the "maras" [street gangs], reduce poverty and substantially increase private investment so as to create more and better jobs, so hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans may join the middle classes.

Along the way, just as in the world’s most prosperous countries, many businessmen will get rich, but Quijano is not concerned that the rich might grow in numbers. He is a reformist who wishes to improve the system. What he wants is fewer poor.

If Sánchez Cerén wins, the story will be different. He will act as a Marxist convinced of the intrinsic evil of an exploitative system based on private property, where capitalists appropriate the gains of the workers. He will opt for a planned economy, directed by the well-intentioned bureaucrats in his political wavelength, to the detriment of a market that, according to Marx and himself, leads to the enrichment of the powerful and the gradual pauperization and alienation of the workers. To be rich is bad. Property means theft.

To achieve Marxist justice, and though it may take some time, Sánchez Cerén will have to resort to violence and the dictatorship of the proletariat, a moral justification wielded by every revolutionary who has ever emerged in this world. What matter a few lives sacrificed when the glorious destiny of mankind is at stake? Ask Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot.

How will he do this? He will follow in the steps of 21st-Century socialism, as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have done. He will change the Constitution, extend the presidential mandate sine die, control all the powers and gradually take over the productive apparatus. The script is very well known.

As postulated by serious communists — and Sánchez Cerén is among them — revolutions are not carried out only to be revoked by some ridiculous bourgeois elections. Who ever dreamed up such stupidity?

Alternation in power is between parties in the same political family, not between different systems. Parties alternate; systems are replaced. A society cannot change skin every five years. The old adage is true: a fish tank can become fish soup; fish soup cannot become a fish tank.

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