There is a model that with certain nuances has been replicated throughout our Latin America, countries that have weak historical institutions and through democracy suffer from the loss of their freedoms. This fact, which seems strange, is not a short-term process, it is, in general, something that we can appreciate in several years and even decades, but that, in the end, works perfectly.
We can verify a trend in the following chain of events: after democratic elections that take place with enough guarantees, if the President and his group do not have firm liberal republican wills, they try to modify the Constitution -always for the sake of a supposed improvement for the people -. In this way, both the Legislative Power and the Judicial Power are subject to the Executive Power, thus giving rise to a concentration of power.
This trend can become almost mathematical: if a populist assumes democracy, governs the country, regardless of the economic debts he incurs or the administrative obligations that are on the agenda, his only goal will be to achieve the greatest popular support. After convening one or several plebiscites or early elections, – which are often riddled with inconsistencies, as in the current case of the constituent assembly in Chile – it manages, through legal and democratic means, to restrict the freedoms of an entire nation in for the sake of popular happiness, which hardly comes.
As a final formula, choose an enemy, or perhaps common enemies, and in the face of it, create a scenario of conflict, which, together with the suppression of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, ends up closing the country to the international world. All this, under the corollary of considering that said country – now closed – be linked with other countries that traveled this path or a similar one.
The leader’s propaganda is usually always very good and is generally based on the fact that these “reforms” will improve the quality of life of citizens, demonstrating that a firm regime will achieve more efficiency than that of a country with full democracy. For them, the division of powers is a system that creates slowdowns in a country.
When this happens, it is at that time that the population enters a stage of “it doesn’t matter”, that is, democracy doesn’t matter, authoritarians don’t matter, institutions don’t matter, the division of powers and the soberand. It doesn’t matter, because… they’re all the same.
Latin American democracies have suffered for a decade from various evils, framed in what most characterizes them, a low level of their politicians. It is possible to find very ephemeral political parties, with little ideological content and without the will to take root, which often function as “electoral companies”. This type of movement tends to have a low connection within the same areas of a country, and does not usually reconcile with internal pluriculture.
The democratic instrument for this type of party is completely accessory since, although democracy is a good tool, the problem is how and who uses it. The lack of a real appeasement in the population of their duties, civic rights and a moral misunderstanding of how to live in society are the keys to explain the failures of democracy in many countries.
On the other hand, autocracy occurs by itself, it is due to apathy. As said before, it consists of a process, which, although history may indicate that it is “quasi-mathematical”, is assimilated to a ladder, in which step by step is lowered in each instance and is used for those who lack scruples want to benefit.
We must be honest that democracy, as well as other types of institutions, are not the remedy for all ills, but serve as contributors so that a country integrates civically with other approaches. This leads to the conclusion that countries with weak democracies are unable to combat corruption, internal integration, and much less define a solid agenda to attack discrimination based on racism, women’s rights, and wealth distribution.
In some countries, the reasoning of the population can be summed up in the following formula: if I am not convinced and have a clear choice, and having already tried almost all the possible variables, perhaps now is the time to try political parties armed by religious, confessional, military, agrarian or indigenous. In social thought, there is usually more understanding of this type of movement, since they encompass aspects of citizenship that connect more with their own daily and cultural reality.
This thought is reinforced if all this is complemented by a new caste, the messianic populists, who help their people to dream until the weekend, and not ask themselves more than that. After all, “what is the point of being told that we are all equal before the law or at the polls if I don’t perceive it that way and in some cases the very politicians I vote for have shown me this.”
It is that populism is more attractive to some social groups, first because of their own strongman culture and way of seeing the world, and then because their attempt to fill their needs quickly prevails. But let’s not get confused, populism does not want citizens, it wants vassals.
We will live a new great cycle of rising commodities, but we will have the same problems as always.
History with its mania for repeating itself is eager to return to Getulio Vargas or Juan Domingo Perón, since with them it was possible to be safe for a while and not be like in this time of political uncertainty and constant change.
We can relate some of these aspects to what happens on the other side of the world.
Would there be war between Russia and Ukraine, if Russia had firm institutions, strong and full democracy, a society where humanist civic values and a concept of total freedom have been cultivated? There is only one answer. In that country, corruption did not matter, nor did its Party system and the way of linking with the Institutions
The world did not look at Russia. It was better a little less freedom, but better income or as China says a little less freedom, but a greater distribution of wealth.
Could it be that we are creating little Russias in Latin America? Each one with its imprint and at the time of it? What will we finally do, look to the side again and not continue to cultivate civic and ethical values in our entire society?
If we do not do it, we will see in the near future… several Latin American Ukraines.