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A Tropical Cominform

At the Sao Paulo Forum in Havana left-wing democrats cooperate in a 'civilized' manner with despotism, condoning the crimes of Daniel Ortega.

Ciudad de México

Latin America is, within its diversity, a region favorable to peace and democracy. The relative absence of inter-state conflicts, a network of interrelated historical, cultural and linguistic elements, and the predominance of elected, plural and civil governments distinguish our region from Africa, Asia and, in certain respects, Europe.

Against this backdrop, the struggle for greater social justice and respect for human rights, opposed to the pernicious neoliberal legacy, traced the outlines of a left that has been active in the post Cold War era.

That left - most of which is committed to pluralism and alternation in power - attended the Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, sharing tables with another authoritarian brand of leftism. Morena, a party/movement ratified at the polls by millions of Mexicans in a totally legitimate manner, and the Communist Party of Cuba, a state party that has never faced any political competition, sat side by side. Similarly, the Labor Party of Brazil, an icon of the social left and participatory democracy, was there beside the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, a bureaucratic apparatus that crushed the original diversity of el chavismoThe Frentes Amplios of Costa Rica and Chile – with their broad, pluralist supporters, linked to social movements – were there alongside the Frente Sandinista, hijacked by Daniel Ortega, a force with which, in a barefaced way, the Central American members of the Form expressed solidarity, despite the latest wave of repression being perpetrated by it.

Like a sort of tropical Cominform, the traditional agenda and rhetoric of the authoritarian left emerged as hegemonic within the Forum. In a scenario in which the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela continue to manifest their determination to remain in power by suppressing any expression of the people's will, and alternation in power, and political opposition, there are "civilized" left-wing democrats who sanction this despotism. This is an attitude that is entirely contradictory; imagine if, throughout the 70s and early 80s, liberal and Christian democrats had agreed to sit down at regular intervals with the representatives of dictatorships.

The history of the international socialist movement boasts numerous examples of progressive forces shunning and distancing themselves from their authoritarian peers. The Eurocommunists condemned the Brezhnev Doctrine, which authorized the USSR to interfere in the internal life of its European neighbors. The Greens, who led protests against NATO's nuclear weapons, theoretically and organizationally spurned the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Latin America's social democrats took up decided position against Somoza, but rejected both the Leninist turn of the Sandinista revolution, and the war unleashed by the Reagan administration. Numerous social movements have opposed the "extractivist" model and state suppression of community participation, whether advanced by neoliberals or neo-Stalinists.  

As long as our democratic lefts remains ideologically muddled,  confusing a commitment to justice with geopolitical loyalty to classes of regimes under which they could not exist, the development of alternatives to unbridled capitalism, and the lives of millions of Latin Americans, victims of those governments, will remain compromised, which is a shame, and frightening.


This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It is published here with the author's permission.

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