The non-scandal

Today we “celebrate” the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Cuartel Moncada, which marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. Maduro is in Cuba, alongside Evo, Daniel Ortega, and that charming old man, Pepe Mujica. They are all there singing the praises of the Cuban Revolution.

And I ask: ¿hasta cuando vale?

How long will it be OK for people to talk up the Cuban Revolution as if the thousands of political prisoners, the lack of freedoms, the firing squads and all that … didn’t happen and don’t matter?

I get it. The Cubans need to build their myth and perpetuate it until the end of time. I understand that some people need to go up there and suck up some of the magic stemming from Fidel’s beard because … they don’t have magic of their own.

But where are the leaders calling their bluff? But must we keep silent and accept that the Cuban Revolution is some watershed moment for Latin American dignity? Where are the Latin American presidents denouncing this “celebration” for what it is – a grotesque spectacle that celebrates the lack of human rights in Cuba? Why isn’t Capriles – the Latin American politician with the most Tweitter followers – denouncing this lionization of barbarism?

I mean, seriously people. Every day that passes I am convinced that our collective continental misery is enmeshed in a shared ethical failure. It’s not that we’re economically poor – it’s that we live in moral misery.

150 thoughts on “The non-scandal

  1. I wouldn’t call it the “end of human rights”, since they weren’t there to begin with. One brutal dictatorship, that of the Castro mafia, replaced another, that of the Batista mafia. It’s nauseating to see this evil being celebrated by “democratic” leaders though.


  2. The part that gets me is this insistence on celebrating defeat as though it had been victory. Because don’t forget, the Moncada Barracks attack was another monumental fuck-up, ending up with Fidel handing himself over to the authorities, 4F style…


    • As a WWII British general is reported to have said on being informed by an aide that extra enemy batallions would be in place to face a coming Allied attack, “The plans are made sonny; don’t bother me with facts”.


        • That was the planned attack, by Arnhem; they opted to go a tad further (hence ‘Too Far’) without realizing till late in the day that ‘resting’ panzer units would be in their planned advance. Just how true or apocryohal the story (generally cited as an example of daft British hoity toity arrogance) is remains in doubt but it serves to illustrate a phenomenon. As Moncada.


  3. Even though I agree with your sentiments, the Cuban Revolution – viewed from a particular lens – is a watershed moment for Latin American dignity. Ideological anti-Americanism has regional currency, and that has been the case since the late nineteenth-century; more specifically in the Caribbean and Central America where U.S. meddling is/was profound. So from the perspective in the Latin American left, the Cuban Revolution represents a dethroning of U.S. imperialism so the island can develop, both politically and economically, on its own accord. So from that point of view, I can understand why it’s celebrated.

    But everything else you said – political prisoners, lack of freedoms, firing squad, it being a one-party autocracy – is spot-on and that needs to denounced vigorously.


    • “So from the perspective in the Latin American left, the Cuban Revolution represents a dethroning of U.S. imperialism so the island can develop, both politically and economically, on its own accord. So from that point of view, I can understand why it’s celebrated.”

      I’m just going to let that text wallow there, marinating in its own internal contradiction.


      • I agree that it’s an internal contradiction because Cuba obviously cannot develop its economy independently. Which is why I have always viewed regional integration promoted by Chavez not only as a way to pursue a world independent of the U.S., but as an attempt to throw additional lifelines at Cuba.


        • That’s why Venezuela is developing so fast, right? Oh, you probably are going to say Venezuela is not developing fast enough because of the US embargo, right?
          What a…

          Cuba was the US brothel until 1959. For a long time it has been the European Union’s brothel…and it is lagging behind development more than ever. Even United Nations, which is built by absolute consensus whereby a country like Denmark is more likely to be criticized for its human rights records than Cuba or China, stop taking Cuba into account for the Human Development Index..


          • Yeah, now its a matter of size or integration and not stupidity. Venezuela received an oil windfall and is worse off than it was in 199, just like Cuba is worse off than in 1958, despite receiving decades of subsidies from the USSR and 13 years from Chavismo.

            To look at Cuba’s failure, you dont have to talk about developing on its won. Look at sugar. The main industry of the island has been destroyed, it is meaningless, while a nearby country called Mexico took over the business and made it a very prosperous one.
            Economic solutions are not about ideology, they are about rationalty and human beings.


      • I believe the argument that instictivepath is making doesn’t refer to being independent of the US economically, but lack if US meddling in internal affairs, that truth be said was fairly large in the 19th and 20th century. In which I completely agree.

        One can argue that they have failed, and yes, they failed because their own mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of independence or self determination is not righteous. I do believe that Latin America has benefited from diminished US influence.

        One thing is to have a country like the US or China as partners, a different one is to have them as puppet masters.

        All countries celebrate rather arbitrary dates. Some of them are of failure.

        The only thing sad about this celebration is not that Cuba celebrates it, it is that we and others are celebrating it with them, and that we are cult followers of these mystical cuban failure.


    • Even though I agree with your sentiments, the Cuban Revolution – viewed from a particular lens – is a watershed moment for Latin American dignity.

      Viewed from another lens, “dignity” is all too often a catchword used by scoundrels. There was Thugo talking about a “pueblo digno” in his most undignified Yanqui de mierda rant. More recently we find out that En Julio, la dignidad nació para siempre.

      Considering the way that Cuba has had 30 years of subsidies from the Soviet Union followed by a decade of subsidies from Venezuela, I would submit that “parasite,” not “dignity,” is a word more appropriate to describe Castro-ruled Cuba.


      • I completely agree. Any abstract term can be used as a rhetorical device to legitimize or lend itself credibility.


    • The same sort of contradiction around the Fidel myth runs around the Pinochet myth for people on the right. There is this idea on the right that Pinochet was a necessary correction for the economic and yes, democratic development of Chile. There is also this myth that the collateral damage, if you want to put it generously, of the Cuban revolution, is a necessary step on the road to social justice. Both views are versions of the ends justifying the means. And both are myths, rationalizations of the indefensible.

      I would say this. There may have been a moment, early in the Cuban revolution, when there was a watershed opportunity for “Latin American dignity”, if you want to put it that way. And then the revolution fell (or was pushed) into the Manichean cold war politics of the time, and became something like the thing its proponents opposed. Oppression.


      • Pinochet was an economic failure for much of his time in office. He turned to a group that advised him correctly and thus his success, Maduro could that. Pinochet’s improvements by the end in no way justify what he did. I think Chile found a solution under Pinochet, because it was Chile, not because Pinochet was right wing or not. Chile was reasonable well run before Allende.


        • Chile was reasonable well run before Allende.

          Something wasn’t functioning properly to allow a Marxist candidate (Allende) to win elections, in 1970.


          • Allende won with less then 37% of the vote. The conservatives got more then 35% and the christian democrats got almost 30% if I remenber correctly. His “mandate” was about as clear as Caldera’s when he won his last election. 2/3 of the country that he presided were clearly anti-marxist.


      • “Both views are versions of the ends justifying the means.”
        Except one of the ongoing ends resulted in democracy, freedom and prosperity while the other’s is fascism, oppression and misery.
        People may hate Pinochet all they want and not give HIM any credit, but like any smart leader, he surrounded himself with the right people who knew how to fix things. These facts will be an important part of his legacy, in spite of the rewriters of history.
        The Castros’ legacy will be one of myths and lies, embraced and celebrated forever by the left. Plus of course “dignity” – except there is no damned dignity for the Cuban people


        • “Except one of the ongoing ends resulted in democracy, freedom and prosperity while the other’s is fascism, oppression and misery.” What part of the oppression under Pinochet can you credit as resulting in democracy, freedom and prosperity? To flip your coin, what part of oppression under Castro can you credit as resulting in high literacy rates and hospitals? I mean, by that standard, Hitler clearly surrounded himself with people who knew how to fix things. Autobahns and economic recovery are an important part of HIS legacy…


          • I never said that Pinochet’s oppression led to democracy, freedom and prosperity, please don’t put words in my mouth.
            A comparison of Pinochet with Hitler or Castro is ludicrous. The latter 2 destroyed their respective countries, Pinochet saved Chile from disaster. Or are you doubting that Allende’s Chile would not have become what Venezuela and Cuba are today?
            And paleeeze give me a break talking about hospitals and literacy under Castro’s Cuba, as if Cuba wasn’t among the most developed nations in Latin America before the Castros with the % biggest middle class of all. Please set your emotions aside and look at facts.
            I reject the über alles notion of “but the leader was elected democratically” and that even when such leader and the regime go rogue they can only be removed by democratic means.
            Do you (and not just you) really, I mean REALLY believe that Chavismo will let go of its power by peaceful elections? Based on what? That all it will take is time and patience and hope and marches and Capriles running around the world whining about what’s happening in his country? I don’t.
            “El pueblo” in Venezuela feels embolden, empowered, privileged and important, facilitated by Chavismo lies and populist goodies, at the price of having been brainwashed numb to what WE believe are the real issues, e.g. inflation, devaluation, insecurity, shortages etc., they mean nothing to them. After all, everything is the empire’s / oligarch’s fault and change may mean losing their perceived, yet humiliating privileges.
            So let’s all just dream on….


            • The impression I get from friends and acquaintances who left Chile under Pinochet, some having been tortured, was that far from saving his country from disaster, in fact his regime WAS a disaster. You do appear to me to be saying ( again) that Pinochet was necessary to the development of Chile.

              And on the unrelated point you make, I do believe that if there is going to be a solution in Venezuela (or Cuba for that matter) it is going to start at the ballot box. And I do also believe that the idea that the world can be divided into ‘our dictators’ (good) and ‘their dictators’ (bad) in the end, misses the crucial issue for all purposes: they are dictators. Support for them is in the long run, a self defeating policy.


              • If it is going to work, it is going to have to happen. I would not be surprised if in ten years Cuba is a very different place.


    • Regarding the more general question of Cuba’s revolution addressed by the post: the revolution became Latin Americas version of “Vietnam” (ok, without the US troops and all the bloodshed), but before Vietnam. Besides, the purges etc were (and still are by those who support the revolution) readily justified as a means to an end. So it served a Machiavellian purpose, more as proof of resolve and strength than as a bastion of morality.


    • “…the Cuban Revolution…a watershed moment for (a new low) in Latin American dignity (sic).” I believe that it only takes one terribly immoral action to define a man (Fidel Castro), or even a political movement–to wit, soon after Fidel came to power, he imprisoned some 500 or so of his political/military enemies, and proceeded to execute them almost daily in small groups by firing squad–but, only after extracting as much blood from them as possible, but not too much so that they couldn’t be led woozily to the firing wall (the blood was sold on the international black market for much-needed U.S.$). This to me defines Fidel Castro (and, his particular place in Hell, alongside Chavez), and his entire “Revolutionary” Latin American “dignity'(sic).


        • Credit Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ editorialist, savvy/intelligent/well-educated writer. There are some crimes that man inflicts upon man so horrible/revolting that no foregiveness/overlooking should be possible (except, perhaps, as in the Cuban case in point, and its hypocritical Leftist apologists)….


  4. Juan, I usually differ from your view on things (sometimes extremely “Chicago Boys” for my taste”, but in this issue I couldn’t agree more. We need to start calling things by their name here.


  5. The “Batista mafia” ended up being so terrible that the US embargoed all arms sales to it because of human rights abuses; Castro benefitted hugely from this. But Batista, who first tried to come to power by military coup, and was later elected President, was originally known as a progressive. He was supported by the Communist Party, and had poems dedicated to him by people like Neruda. Batista’s revolution turned authoritarian and sour, as they often do.

    To me it seems that Latin America admires those countries, like Cuba, who “stand up to the United States”, even at the expense of the well-being of their citizens. Presidents who honour Cuba by their presence can claim that it is Cuba’s independence, not its social system, that they admire.


    • The latin american left sometimes will honour the independence and justice and so on, and then joke over beers afterwards what a pain in the ass these functionaries can be with their long speeches, moral superiority, and quick willingness to run everyone else’s tab.


    • It’s all about thumbing their respective noses at the empire, and a competition of who is the most daring or “arrecho”. As if it made one iota of a difference. At the end of the day they are nothing but insignificant barking ankle biters of course including all Cuba idolizing leftists of the world.


  6. Something that gets to me is the hypocrisy of the left in Latin America, Pepe Mujica and other people, who have built their political capital on the fact that they were prosecuted by the right-wing dictatorships in the southern cone, cheering for.. a military dictator that treats his opponent equally or worst than they were treated by their governments. You have to be a really cynical individual in order to do something like that without feeling any type of remorse and disgust at your own hypocrisy,


    • I think the answer to that hypocrisy, to that cynicism, is contained in a brief synopsis of Mujjica’s speech. He talks of dreams, even the Quixotic ones, and how necessary dreamers are for moving (the Revolution) forward, mistakes and all… And if there were no dreamers, we’d all be walking through the jungles with tapa rabos … The world moves forward because there are people who are capable of dreaming (… well there you have it, no wonder nothing works in communism…) And mistakes have been made, but the dream … blah..blah..blah..

      But here are two telling episodes in Mujica’s speech that really got me. For half a minute, starting around 4:05, Mujica talks about the need for diversity. And I’m puzzled, knowing that Maduro and his lovely bride, no longer the First Combattant, have front-row seats to listen to all the drivel. I wonder, how do they process this call for diversity, as stated by a first-rate drunk?

      To wit, Mujica dixit ….
      “Y hemos aprendido una cosa, y la estamos viviendo en nuestra América Latina: Sólo es posible el mundo si respeta lo diverso. Sólo es posible el mundo y el porvenir si nos acostumbramos a entender que el mundo es diversidad, y es respeto, dignidad y tolerancia, y que NADIE tiene el derecho por ser grande y fuerte, aplastar a los pequeños y a los débiles . Lección de oro de estos 60 años de revolución….El mundo rico tendrá que entender que por su propia tranquilidad, porque la vida humana es CORTA, demasiado CORRTA, y no hay derecho a sacrificar la vida humana de los que están vivos… hay que respetar la VIDA…”

      At around 7: 38, Mujica states … es possible que el hombre salga de la PREHISTORIA el dia que los cuarteles sean escuelas y universidades. (Ahí precisamente es donde Maduro se hizo el loco …)


  7. well I guess most venezuelan are so concerned with searching in a dozen supermarkets to buy the stuff they need that they couldn’t care less about what the goverment celebrates, I really dislike that the chavista mystify the 4f and the cuban revolution but it seems like it isn’t a big deal to anyone, even within the opposition it means little more than another chavista tasteless anecdote


  8. This article reminds me of an argument I usually have with my friends from outside Latin America, (similar to how Quico introduced the “Petrostate for Beginners” artcile). Once they know I’m left-leaning in my ideology, they usually follow by saying that then I must be really happy with the way things are going on in South America, with “leftist” governments being more popular yadda yadda yadda, and then they’re shocked to find out that I am in fact very sad and disappointed. And it’s because of this, a dictatorship in Cuba, the madness of Venezuelan authoritarianism, Correa using his power to censor the opposition, CFK just being CFK, etc, etc, etc. That’s why I really like this blog, the writers and us readers have a wide range of ideological views, but there’s pretty much a consensus “que sin democracia nada vale”.

    In the end that’s why I usually end up supporting (in Colombia) what I’d call “innovative centrists”. Maybe we’re not 100% compatible on ideology, but I trust they won’t fall into applauding and imitating the aforementioned “left”, and on the other hand have interesting ideas that I feel would be useful.


    • It’s useful to live in a country with a true social-democratic party. You can easily be on the left, support equality, human rights, etc. etc. etc. and recognize that communists are a political enemy. In doing so, you tread a well-trodden path.


      • Well said, example Europe. Except that the ever increasing welfare state is not sustainable and inevitably leads to financial ruin. Maybe not the prudently governed Germany, but it could be dragged down by the rest of the EU. The US under Obama is on the same path now having a greater % of takers than makers.


        • Makes you think that maybe , maybe sometimes its not the system that makes the difference but the specific way its used or applied by specific people who are less or more organized and competent in what they do . The germans could not make comunism work but they have been able to make social democracy work , Sometimes I feel that in venezuela , we are so screwed up by our culture and mentality , that even if we were given the chance of making the most enlightened form of free market system work , we would fail at the task . Of course it would be much better than what we have now , but I am skeptical that we would be able to make it work with the success achieved in other countries. There is something in the culure , in peoples mentality that allow it to make a success of things . The US is suffering from the consequences of a change in the mentality of the professional pols , in the way politics are practiced so that even if the free market system can still work for them , keeping it functioning is become more and more of a challenge each day !!


          • Nobody can or will make communism work, ever. Nevertheless, East Germany, in economic terms (as well as Stasi oppression!) was the most efficient of all the Russian sattelite countries. The Cubans were outstanding students and adopters of the Stasi tactics.


            • Totally agree that communism cant be made to work anywhere ever, Still I remember reading that whenever in the old soviet union people gathered in a line to buy some scarce product , if it was from East Germany it was seen as more valuable because east german products even if defective compared to western standards , were valued as better made!!


  9. I think, Juan, that we have a problem: the oldest centre-right politicians are way too mired with their own contradictions to offer something new to say about this.

    The new generation of democratic politicians from centre, (moderate) left and right seem to lack the historical perspective…because they do not seem to have much knowledge about Latin American history of the last century or so (or world history, for that matter).

    They need that if they are to start pronouncing speeches where they reveal the hypocrisy of the
    Palaeolithic left we have in Latin America.

    They need to be able to include in their discourse the arguments and counter-arguments (or pseudo-arguments) that thugs such as Maduro or even those useful idiots as Pepe are going to use.

    It seems there is intellectual laziness at play here. They may say they want to reach consensus, they do not want to lose focus, but they (our politicians) don’t seem to have the historical knowledge and general logical thinking to show what Chavismo and Castrismo are really about.


  10. I’ll tell you why our “leaders” don’t cry bloody murder about this. It’s because the majority of them is a bunch of socialist that have looked Fidel and his Animal Farm (aka Cuba) as a role model, no matter how many proofs of the impossibility of having Socialism/Communism in a free society.

    “Identify the dominant philosophy of a society and you can predict its future.” -Ayn Rand


  11. The word Dignity is used to mask another less lovable one , the word Conceit , people love feeling important and great and superior and mighty , specially megalomaniacal tyrants such as Chavez and Castro , so whenever the word dignity is used in respect of them I substitute the word conceit to get at the real meaning . When Lula referring to the US commercial blockade remarked ” incredible how much Cuba has had to suffering to defend her dignity” I ve always understood him as really saying “Incredible how much Cuba has had to suffer to sattisfy Catro’s conceit”


    • Both Castro and Chavez surrendered to a government that they were trying to replace by violent means .If these governments would have had moral clarity and a clear conscience they could have thoroughly and definitely neutralized these golpistas/revolutionaries .By pulling their punches , they created a political vacuum where these revolutionaries could convince more and more people of their being the future saviors of their countries.

      Many with left wing sympathies would like to believe that if it were not for some unfortunate circumstances(US Embargo, too much corruption etc etc), their revolutionary heroes would have achieved the socialist paradise.Because of this , they still pay tribute to their now somewhat imperfect heroes while at the same time totally denying this imperfection and clinging to their beautiful narcissistic vision.Ultimately it might not matter to what degree they themselves believe in this or not, but it makes for a romantic, and catching larger than life sales pitch unlike talking about merely practical ideas like interest rates, productivity etc.


  12. Castro remains “respectable” and “revered” as the last of the Red Banners.

    Red intellectuals have a fantasy of the Revolution bringing about utopia. First they embraced the USSR. But after a while, it was exposed as a tyranny, and even worse, not hip. Maoist China enjoyed a temporary vogue. Then came Deng and China’s de facto conversion to capitalism.

    But Castro! That romantic campaign in the Sierra Maestra! Che! The victory, with immense cheering crowds! Viva la revolucion! And he had such perfect enemies: low-brow American conservatives, ex-batistianos, corrupt Latin American reactionaries. Cuba had style: music, film, theater.

    A big sector of the U.S. intellectual class fell in love with Castro at the start. Canadians and Europeans too. They built a wall of rationalizations and myths to conceal the reality of his regime. They can never admit they were wrong and that those low-brow conservatives were right. After the Castroite regime falls, they will shut up and shove their previous history down the memory hole.

    As to Latin American opinion, it is deformed by deeply engrained anti-Yankee-ism. Generations of scapegoating the U.S. for all the region’s failings made Latinos into suckers for anyone positioned as anti-U.S. Plus the influence of the Euro-American intellectual fashion. And the deep resentment of Latin weakness – note Argentina’s pointless obsession with the Falklands. Castro appealed (and appeals) to injured pride.


    • well said, RR. But I think the wall of rationalizations and myths to conceal the reality of the Castro regime, at least, in the early years, had more to do with Castro’s craft at manufacturing the dream among foreign romantics (remember the Venceremos Brigades, in the 1970s, to cut sugar cane for the revolution?) and letting in as little daylight as possible onto the realities.


        • In September 1960, still quite young, I passed through an architectural courtyard, so to speak, in what was then known as Idlewild (now JFK) airport. My mom stopped and said: “look up”. Through the glassed-in corridor, above, I saw a small group of bearded men, in olive-green fatigues and boots, walking briskly. “There’s Castro,” my mom said. I was aware of Castro from the propaganda comics that circulated in my school yard in Caracas, and I figured from my mom’s voice that this moment was important. I made a mental photograph of the scene, which I remember clearly, to this day. La tropa cubana , which likely included el Ché, had arrived in New York on the occasion of the opening of the United Nations. Controversy followed them everywhere, including a pulling out of one hotel to stay at Harlem’s Hotel Theresa. After the UN speech, Castro made a tour of a few elite campuses, Harvard among them. Ironically, Harlem welcomed Fidel, in 1960, after having rejected his application in 1948. Like Hitler (Godwin!), Fidel was not accepted by an institution that just might have helped to change the course of history.


            • Harlem did , too, not like Chavez, when they cut his TV transmission line after, I believe, his “sulpur” U. N. speech. I saw Fidel speak at Harvard, on a high raised platform, behind a one-story or more presumably.bullet-proof transparent shield.


              • Remarkable that you witnessed that, NET. I suspect that the tall shield before the podium at Harvard would have nicely fed into Fidel’s sociopathic behaviors.


  13. ” It’s not that we’re economically poor – it’s that we live in moral misery.”


    And I’ll add a quote from judge Manuel Franco: “por eso es que los latinos estamos como estamos, porque siempre estamos viendo la forma de aprovecharnos de los nuestros”


  14. 3 words and I am not even bothering on getting a heartburn watching the video: “cuerda ‘e payasos!”


  15. Silly Juan, only left-wing dictatorships can be brutal and inhuman with their own people and still have the caraetablismo to call themselves democracies


  16. Re Cuba and social development under the Castros.
    Q. Cuba’s current life expectancy (2010-2015) is 4.5 years higher than that of Latin America and the Caribbean [74.7 vs. 79.2]. Does this indicate that the Castros, for all their autocratic tendencies, have had the best interest of the Cuban people at heart and have done a good job of governing Cuba?
    A. PSF: “The Castros have done a good job.”
    Q. In the 1950s, Cuba’s life expectancy was 8 years above that of Latin America and the Caribbean. What does this say about Batista?
    A. PSF: ” UH….”

    The point of this little exercise is not to bring back Batista, but to point out that 1)Castro inherited a country in relatively good condition and 2) for all the brouhaha about what Castros have done re “social development,” other countries have also done well – and without resorting to totalitarianism. [latter point made not for the average CC reader, who already realizes it, but for the PSF.]
    Courtesy of CEPAL .


  17. Nothing ceases to amaze me! In europe they love the guys, but I don’t see any of them moving to Cuba or Venezuela. All a bunch of moronic hypocrites.


    • Super,

      Hypocrisy, otherwise known as’ political correctness’ when publicly displayed en masse, will be the downfall of Europe….
      first Europe, then the US…unless we wake up.


  18. ideological disparities aside, isn’t this part of Mujica’s speech kind of an answer to the dilemma posed in your final paragraph?

    “… y chocamos con la historia, los cambios materiales son mas faciles que los cambios culturales. los cambios culturales son en definitiva el verdadero cemento de la historia, y son una siembra muy lenta de generacion en generacion…”


  19. “It’s not that we’re economically poor – it’s that we live in moral misery” And it is not that the Yanks are so bad – it’s that they have taken historical advantage of this moral misery. Wouldn’t you?


  20. This comes the same week UNESCO honored Che Guevera, which is a barbaric act, considering the man was a blood thirsty killer. Moral missery, lack of integrity, Insuficient testicular fortitude. Might as well call it a day, and let the Permanent Revolution take over.


  21. What always fascinates me about these celebrations is how it always comes back to the Cuban Revolution. It´s as if no political thought of any importance has taken place since Castro. The US has 1776 as its watershed moment, the French have 1789 and we as a continent have…..a geriatric dictator who imprisons people who disagree with him. Are we really that culturally impoverished?


    • Boliburgués, tú crees que la oposición inoculó al caudillo Chávez con cáncer?
      Maduro lo cree. Maduro lo declaró. Otros líderes principales de la boliburguesía lo han declarado repetidas veces. Ya comenzó la investigación?


  22. Canucklehead @July 27, 2013 at 10:16 am
    The impression I get from friends and acquaintances who left Chile under Pinochet, some having been tortured, was that far from saving his country from disaster, in fact his regime WAS a disaster.

    An estimated three plus years ago, CC had a very good discussion on the 1973 coup. Commenters included someone whose father worked for a company which Allende had nationalized- most likely courtesy of Golpista President Colonel Marmaduke Grove’s Decree Law. [Grove had in-law ties with Allende. See Whelan]. Unfortunately, with the many changes in blog commenting software since then, those comments have disappeared down the rabbit hole.

    Not everyone will agree, but there are many who, when comparing Pinochet and Allende, see Pinochet as the lesser of two evils. Consider the viewpoint of ex-President Aylwin. As he led the NO vote against Pinochet in the 1988 Referendum, no one would consider Aylwin to be a Pinochet fan. Yet Aylwin had this to say about Pinochet and Allende:

    In an interview with the Spanish newspaper EL PAIS, former President Patricio Aylwin (93), reopened the debate over the governments of Presidents Allende and Pinochet. Among other comments, he made two strong statements: a)”Allende made a bad government and fell by his own weaknesses and those of his supporters”; b)”Pinochet represented order, security, respect, authority and a market economy that would allow the country to prosper”.
    [I went to the El Pais website, and found the article: accurately translated. 27/05/2012: El President se confiesa.]

    While Aylwin is no Pinochet fan, he definitely sees Pinochet, when compared to Allende, as the lesser of two evils.

    Aylwin was the primary author of the August 22,1973 Resolution which the Chamber of Deputies passed by an 81-47 vote, a strong 63% majority. Allende correctly called the Resolution, which has sometimes been called the “Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy,” as an invitation to a coup.

    I would suggest you consult what foreign correspondent Georgie Ann Geyer has to say about Allende in her autobiography Buying the Night Flight: The Autobiography of a Woman Foreign Correspondent. You can browse it in Google Books. Suffice it to say that Allende doesn’t come off as someone committed to democracy and rule of law. Another book to consult would be James R. Whelan’s Out of the Ashes: Life, Death and Transfiguration of Democracy in Chile, 1833-1988.–OutOfAshes_djvu.txt


    • I was comparing Castro to Pinochet, not Allende, but if you want to go there, I would ask you: how many innocent people did Allende torture and kill?


      • Ah, but I see, if he’d been left in power, Allende would have, right? Tortured and killed. Even worse. That’s the argument?


    • Thanks Boludo Tejano for putting some perspective in this discussion.

      In spite of what revisionists have made younger generations believe, i.e. Pinochet’s regime tortured and killed tens of thousands of innocent mostly young men and women at random, the truth is that he fought a war on Marxist Terrorism.

      James Whelan in “The truth about the victims of political violence in Chile” (The Australian, December 15, 2006) dixit:

      “Indeed, in all 17 years of military rule, the total of dead and missing – according to the official Rettig Commission – was 2,279. Were there abuses? Were there real victims? Without the slightest doubt. A war on terror tends to be a dirty war.

      Still, in the case of Chile, and contrary to news reports, the number of actual victims was small.

      The Chilean Revolution thus was, by far, the least bloody of any significant Latin American revolution of the 20th century.”

      “News stories about what happened on that Tuesday in September routinely speak of the bloody coup. It was no such thing. About 200 people died in the shooting on September 11 and a little more than 1000 in the first three months of virtual civil war. But not the civil war the Communists were perfectly prepared to accept as their price for power: 500,000 to 1,000,000. ” (HT BT)


  23. CanuckleheadJ@ July 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm
    Ah, but I see, if he’d been left in power, Allende would have, right? Tortured and killed. Even worse. That’s the argument?[for the coup]

    The argument for the coup is not the “tortured and killed” statement you made above, but the Chamber of Deputies’ August 22,1973 Resolution, a.k.a. the Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy, which I had previously referred to. An excerpt follows.

    5. That it is a fact that the current government of the Republic, from the beginning, has sought to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the state and, in this manner, fulfilling the goal of establishing a totalitarian system: the absolute opposite of the representative democracy established by the Constitution;
    6. That to achieve this end,the administration has committed not isolated violations of the Constitution and the laws of the land, rather it has made such violations a permanent system of conduct, to such an extreme that it systematically ignores and breaches the proper role of the other branches of government, habitually violating the Constitutional guarantees of all citizens of the Republic, and allowing and supporting the creation of illegitimate parallel powers that constitute an extremely grave danger to the Nation, by all of which it has destroyed essential elements of institutional legitimacy and the Rule of Law;

    I suggest you read the entire Resolution. and also read up on Chile so that you can connect specific acts of Salvador “Democratically Elected” Allende and his allies to what the Resolution discusses. Such as justifying nationalizing/expropriating properties on the basis of a Decree Law issued by Golpista Colonel Marmaduke Grove. Sounds very democratic, to use a Decree Law issued by a milico to justify your acts. Which is what Allende did.

    As I pointed out, Georgie Ann Geyer’s book points out some less-than-democratic aspects of Allende. See what Allende had to say about one party rule, for example. Go to Google Books, and search for pages with Allende.

    I notice you are completely bypassing the point I made about former President Aylwin. With over a half century of involvement in public life in Chile, he knows much more about Chile than you or I. I previously pointed out that as the leader of the NO vote contingent in the 1988 Referendum, he is no Pinochet fan. Yet the above quote clearly shows that between Pinochet and Allende, he considers Pinochet the lesser of two evils. Why do you ignore this point? WHY?


    • Two reasons why. One. Because while your Chilean constitutional analyst may have some interesting context to provide for the record books, you may have overlooked the thousands killed and tens of thousand of people who were tortured and displaced under Pinochet. For starters.

      Second, because all this debate does is take me back to my original point, which is that the crazy left which rationalizes or ignores the abuses of Castro sounds a lot like the crazy right which rationalizes or ignores the abuses of Pinochet.

      And yes, both sides have their arguments. They can trot out their respective body counts and imprisoned and tortured, and argue context. They can try to prove that what they are saying is hard boiled reality, rather that what is probably more the product of soft thinking and a soft life. Maybe one day they can all get together, and explain how misunderstood their dictators of choice were, and on the basis of that common ground, form some sort of club.


      • What’s your source for these ludicrous numbers? You got better ones than Patricio Aylwin or José Piñera? The hear-say stories of your MIR fugitives? Your parents? Your church? I guess you haven’t done much real research yourself and the revisionists did a great number on your brain implanting this BS. BTW, I am generally not against “churches”, but they are not good sources for this type of info. Plus I hope you are not implying that your MIR refugees would have an unbiased opinion.

        The historic significance of Pinochet’s legacy is not just saving Chile, by ending years of political turmoil, including terrorist and criminal acts by the MIR
        that resulted in the death of many innocent civilians, and in turn from a disastrous future and then building the foundation of what it is today. He was the first to defeat the encroachment of communism worldwide and specially in LA, setting the stage for its fall on a large scale, eventually accomplished through the politics of the Reagan / Thatcher coalition.

        You are stuck in a politically correct, yet hypocritical story. Your ears go deaf when fact based truths are told and your reaction to it is “too bad for the truth”, because it doesn’t fit your value system. You reject the often necessary “lesser evil” doctrine. Fighting terrorism is never pretty, yet that’s where your focus is, condemning it as cruel and inhumane, as if the traits of terrorism were noble and a blessing for humankind. You put Pinochet and Castro on the same pedestal, never considering their motives and specially end games: democracy, freedom and prosperity vs. tyranny, restraint and misery. And when cornered and out of arguments, you use ad hominem insults (“yer crazy”). The latter really speaks volumes of your credibility.

        Enough for me. I respect your opinion, but cannot accept your baseless historical inaccuracies. You do NOT respect my opinion (or BT’s for that matter) and you will never open your mind and consider what the fact based truth really is.


        • Mike, I was a little rude, feeling that my point wasn’t being understood. It continues not to be understood ( putting Castro and Pinochet on a pedestal was actually not my intent) and the blame can only lie with me at this point.


        • The thousands of killed is accurate- 2-3 thousand. Torture- see Valech Report. Accurate. Displaced- refugees- accurate. Many ended up in Venezuela, including Isabel Allende, first cousin first removed of Salvador Allende, who later achieved fame as an author. Her maternal grandfather supported the coup, which shows how divided Chile was in 1973.


    • Boludo, just in case you want to quote the time again, I’m actually working away driving the cogs of capitalism right now, not (unfortunately) drinking…but one other point. My parents had this debate about Pinochet quite a long time ago, and on the basis of the outcome of this debate, which apparently involved a lot of research and discussions with our church and so on, I did not grow up in Chile under Pinochet. So, aside from personal contacts (chilean marxist terrorists -to use Mike’s phrase- all of them, because Canada had a policy of accepting chilean marxist terrorists in the 1970s and a lot came, and we Canadians went to school with their kids and hung out in their marxist terrorist living rooms and backyards), I have some familiarity with the literature and the issues, though my memory is not great.


      • The rub as I see it, Canuckles, is this: The penchant of soft-hearted Canadians to believe in sob-stories. Add: Chilean Marxists who fled the Pinochet regime and travelled over 10,000 Km to reach your home town, a pre-Internet world of limited fact-checking, the Left’s craftiness at selling a yarn through the media, and a local church to yield an institutionalized pity-party.

        Your church and its parishioners were magnificent to help these refugees. But I wonder, have any of these refugees, now presumably moved back to Chile, ever kept in touch with the parishioners who gave them shelter, now years later? It is a legitimate question for which I’d love an answer.

        I am only marginally familiar with Chilean Marxists through two incidents, neither of them impressing me. In one instance, and back in the mid-90s’, a small band of these Marxists obtained free funding for the arts from the Canadian government to produce a poetic short film. It was shown at an Hispanic film festival in Toronto. Frankly, I thought the film was poorly-made cr*p, a lazy free-flow of feedback from refugees and their impressions. It came across to me as manipulative.

        The other Chilean Marxist was Martha Harnecker. Her career as a non-PhD professor at a Marxist university that Allende allowed to be set up in Santiago, went bust when Pinochet came to town. Harnecker went to Cuba, and around 2005, she managed to produce a very thin book of interviews on Marxist leaders in Latin America. So she went on a book promo tour to Canadian campuses to chat up the marvels of Chávez and his ilk. I was certainly not impressed. Let’s put this way. Thank goodness there are churches that are more lax in their criteria. For if Harnecker found herself as a refugee in my town, I’d never take her in.

        I am more familiar with the financial scenario that Pinochet created, when his government and the banks started working together. Essentially, Pinochet pulled the plug on subsidies to Chilean businesses, leaving them scrambling like mad. But a funny thing happened. The businesses stopped being lazy recipients of hand-outs, and actually made the economic backbone that Chile is today. I think Chileans already had the template of that behaviour in their collective DNA, as opposed to nationals of another Latam country. Pinochet and the banks rescued that DNA from being completely thwarted by the inefficient, power-hungry dream factory that is Marxism.


        • Syd we are infiltrated all around by Chilean Marxists eating away at our softness. When I finish with my emotional reaction to these truths, I will ask my church today what we can do about it.


          • I see. Beyond your repeated ironic answers, it seems that we can’t expect straight answers from you on what is a sensitive topic.


            • I apologize for being insensitive to those who have been manipulated and never thanked by Chilean marxist terrorist refugees, their bad movies, their crappy DNA, and their sob stories. Even though I am soft, I can be insensitive.


              • You’ve just shot your credibility with me, Canucks. Not because of your differing opinions, which are founded on sentiment — nothing wrong with that — but because I’m unable to understand how someone in the legal profession, as I understand you to be, cannot rise above sentiment to check on sources that might provide objectivity. That’s an anathema for legals. But we’ll it at that, while you continue to spout little quips.


            • I did 2000 or so Chilean refugee claims when I was a young lawyer. One of my clients had a letter from the Pope, saying that the Vicaria in Chile had confirmed that he had been tortured. Another had her child’s birth certificate from Cuatro Alamos Detention Centre. Another had a letter of support from a British nun, who had herself been tortured.

              Canada has a fairly rigourous refugee determination procedure, based on oral evidence, physical evidence, cross-examination, and ultimately cross-reference to a UN-approved data base of proven claims.

              Pretending that it was based on Canadian tenderheartedness and naivity is not only false, it is deeply ignorant.


              • @Jeffry House.
                I’m not sure to whom your comment refers. I’m aware that the Cdn government is rigorous in its determination of refugee claims. But it is even more rigorous towards those in good financial standing, wanting to enter Canada (c. 1990) through legitimate channels. I knew one Caracas family (widow and two university graduates, all with English-speaking skills), who was rebuffed, only to complain as to the vast numbers with fewer means that get into Canada, on the basis of refugee claims. Back in 1984, I also evidenced a sobbing Montreal lawyer who, early in her career, showed me one letter with blood stains from an Iranian claimant. Let’s say, I was more troubled by the lawyer.

                My comments on soft-hearted Canadians, especially those through their churches, had more to do with those Canadian families who billet refugees, presumably for some host compensation, correct me if my presumption is wrong. Certainly the billeting would cancel out the soft-heartedness, if you get what I mean…


              • Syd, just to speak to your presumption, I have a house in Whistler built from the funds my church and I receive from billeting refugee claimants while they prepare to jump the queue over educated Caraquenos with means.


              • My take on soft-heartedness/tenderheartedness/naïveté is that many or most of those residing outside Chile unconditionally accepted the Allendista view that Salvador “Democratically Elected” Allende and his supporters were supporters of democracy who always operated within the law and the Constitution of Chile. The truth lies otherwise, as both the Supreme Court and the Chamber of Deputies pointed out.


              • @BT. I, too, got sucked in by the Allende romance, after coming across photographs and article in a National Geographic, c. 1972. But I was young and impressionable, and easily fooled by the successful propaganda machinery, likely managed from Havana, much like the weaponry given to Allende and his goons, as noted in this iconic photograph, taken when the squeeze was near.


          • Such a smartass answer, when you also apparently refuse to read Georgie Ann Geyer’s interviews with Allende- which would take all of ten minutes- indicate to me that you are not serious.
            I would also add that having spent the first half of my life in a small town which included a number of refugees from the Iron Curtain, I am unable to find your “Chilean Marxists eating away at our softness” very amusing.


          • Syd poses a very good question:

            But I wonder, have any of these refugees, now presumably moved back to Chile, ever kept in touch with the parishioners who gave them shelter, now years later? It is a legitimate question for which I’d love an answer.

            And you give a smartass reply. No sos serio.


  24. I love that the debate on whitewashing Cuba has turned into whithewashing Pinochet as usual on rightwing blogs, I am so glad nobody is whitewashing Carmona, because he failed.


    • As usual, you don’t get it Shame. No one is whitewashing Pinochet, other than to point out that near the end of his regime, he was able to align himself with factors that contributed to the powerful economic engine that Chile is today. If Castro had done the same for Cuba, if Chávez had done the same for Venezuela, we would be praising that aspect of each of their dictatorships. Suggest you go back to your dream-filled ivory tower.


      • What is worse the fact that you are whitewashing and you don’t know it, I mean according to you “it is not whitewashing its history!”

        In the end Pinochet died with a foot in prison, its a shame that the Chilean system failed in punishing him, but he knew in the end that only death could prevent him from being jailed. That has to be good enough for his victims.

        Thank the superjudge for that.

        PS Venezuela today is way ahead of Chile in 1990, by orders of magnitude.


        • Eat your heart out Shame. Some red meat. The sun is shining, its a summer day and I’m out of this south american version of an Ingeborg Bachman short story dialogue.


        • There’s nothing quite as invigorating as a Pin-Head who wrongly attributes a quote to someone in order to complete an oblique and irrational thought.

          With that out of the way, let me answer your comment, Shame, on Pinochet’s dying with a foot in prison. Pinochet should have rotted in prison for the deaths and tortures that he commissioned, irrespective of his latent economic record.

          Likewise, Chávez, should have remained in prison for the deaths that he commissioned, early on, in 1992, and later, for his crafted unwillingness to curb crime. But Chávez slipped out that responsibility, thanks to folks like you who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the depravity behind “Dignidad”.

          Ditto on Castro.

          As for Venezuela’s economy being way of ahead of Chile in 1990, by orders of magnitude. I know it’s hard for a poet like yourself, but can you possibly be more explicit on how the net indicators of Venezuela’s economy are superior to Chile’s, in 1990, and how you came to decide on that disparate comparison? Thanks in advance.


          • “Likewise, Chávez, should have remained in prison for the deaths that he commissioned, early on, in 1992, and later, for his crafted unwillingness to curb crime. But Chávez slipped out that responsibility, thanks to folks like you who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the depravity behind “Dignidad”.”

            I have always wondered just how much is Chavez responsible for crime, but you are aware that under this lens every world leader needs to be jailed because crime is never 0?

            “As for Venezuela’s economy being way of ahead of Chile in 1990, by orders of magnitude. I know it’s hard for a poet like yourself, but can you possibly be more explicit on how the net indicators of Venezuela’s economy are superior to Chile’s, in 1990, and how you came to decide on that disparate comparison? Thanks in advance.”

            Chile on left Ven on right

            Unemployment 7.7% vs 6.9%
            Poverty 37% vs 21.2%

            Click to access e165431ba7c14ef3d783ce359e1ffece31b6df90.pdf


            Inflation LOOOOOOL 26 vs 21 (2012 ;))

            Gini 55 vs 39 (lower is better)

            Now for the money shot
            GPD per capita in PPP $5000 vs $13610

            Venezuela did not grow at all from 1990 to 2003 (when the opposition was finally defeated). When you factor in PPP dollar inflation the country regressed in per capita wealth, Chile on the other hand grew like Venezuela did from 1990 til today, in fact Venezuela outperformed them from 2003 till today (68% vs 82%) but you cannot erase what CAP, Caldera and what the Coordinadora Democratica did.

            In short Pinochet was an economic fraud, the concertacion gets ALL the credit for the “miracle” and last but not least they will get all the credit for dismantling Pinochetismo from its very foundation very soon.


            • All those “IMF” stats are massaged by Chavistas, who are the biggest liars in Spanish America.
              One piece of data they cannot hide as much (even if they do massage that data as well) is the murder rate, which is a good indicator of social injustice.

              Venezuela’s murder rate in 1998: 19 x 100 000.
              Venezuela’s murder rate now: 70 x 100 000 (even if the government “admits” only about 45, which is already horrendous)

              What is going to be Venezuela’s GDP growth this year, Boliburgués?
              Oil prices are still incredibly high.
              And you didn’t react to the fact Maduro thinks Chávez was killed by the opposition


            • Boliburgués, if someone just cares to take a look at Venezuela’s census he will find out numbers don’t even add up in a lot of areas. It seems that your “revolutionary” morons don’t even know how to use spreadsheet software.

              And the excess of “voters” over population estimate is well beyond what one could expect from any statistical error.

              Pero qué entiendes tú de eso? Tu cerebro se desarrolló a punta de escuchar canciones de Alí Primera.


              • Chile got caught red handed by the press and you guys can’t do the same, at best you just create a parallel poverty index where the food basket is higher, or a crime index where you count resisting arrest and unsolved intent as homicide, nothing wrong with that I guess, but you STILL can’t catch the government red handed actually fudging the numbers.

                BTW get ready to have your blood boiled Kep



              • “I have the numbers, from the best sources, the physicians who have to deal with the corpses your regime produces.”

                And when they label resisting arrest as murder you parrot their data as well. Suicide by cop is translated as homicide by the Observatory.

                Again caught red handed in the Census vs Kepler really really wishing they are cheating, no contest.

                BTW the IMF has not criticized Venezuela’s statistics like they have with Argentina, so… I have the numbers, from the best sources, an institution that loathes the left.


              • You are not paying attention. I suppose you are too busy profiting from being a Boliburgués with all your family.

                The list they publish with the names of the people, the age and the place of murder
                all agree with the monthly reports.
                And they agree with the murders
                It’s a complete waste of time to talk to you.
                Why do you comment here? You better stick to writing in Aporrea.


              • Why are you so defensive? did the bubble burst cause that much stress? the idea that Chile after Pinochet was worse off than Venezuela after Chavez? Under every single statistic except crime. I mean I was pretty shocked too that neo-liberal Chile had higher inflation with Pinochet as well.

                What is your opinion on the piece on Bolivarian education?

                I mean after all you guys had a whole week about it but none from experts in teaching education to teachers themselves.


              • I don’t sidestep anything, I feel bad for the woman, and for you for using her pain as a political weapon.


              • For Shame doesn’t want to admit that that woman looked right at the camera to address members of the government who are safe and cushy, and by extension, all the sh*ts that promote that government — meaning you.

                In the face of a personal loss, and in an environment where crime that goes unpunished, because it is not convenient to install corrective measures, that woman would welcome her message getting out beyond the members of government she addresses through the mainstream media.

                I’m happy to smear your face in your own sh*t. But keep spinning the excuses so as not to own up to the phony politics that you promote.


        • PS Venezuela today is way ahead of Chile in 1990, by orders of magnitude.

          Looking at countries 20 years apart in time can be somewhat disingenuous. A better way to compare is to look at relative rankings during given points of time.I looked at country rankings in health statistics, using the gold standards of Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy. I used 27 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. [Leave out Caribbean island countries of small population.]

          Life expectancy, years. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
          Chile 1990 3rd 73.6 [12th in 1970]
          Venezuela 2011 10th 74.3 years

          Infant Mortality, deaths per 1,000 births. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
          Chile 1990 3rd 15.7 [14th in 1970]
          Venezuela 2011 6th 12.9

          Courtesy of data downloaded from World Development Indicators Databank (World Bank) .


          • “can be somewhat disingenuous.”
            Hm, that’s a nice way of expressing it. I would have said “is incredibly stupid”.
            You are right.
            Dishonest people like Chavistas also keep mentioning the high inflation rates during (also lefty) Caldera II. What they forget is that most major/middle size countries in Latin America had much higher inflation rates than Venezuela back then whereas Venezuela belongs to a league of its own today.
            Likewise, Chavistas used a lot the data from the doubtful United Nations Development Index (doubtful because United Nations takes national sources in good faith for too many years, until reality is too strong, like with the case of Cuba).
            Venezuela seemed to have higher numbers in the last years…until you realise it had been overtaken by two neighbouring countries in the same period and it overtook none in the American hemisphere.
            Chavistas are so shameless that they can even say thanks to Chávez there is twitter as before Chávez there was no twitter. There is something in their neural tissue…


            • “(also lefty) Caldera II. ”
              So Pinochet was a lefty too now? He left with 26% inflation lol

              “Life expectancy, years. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
              Chile 1990 3rd 73.6 [12th in 1970]
              Venezuela 2011 10th 74.3 years”

              But Venezuela still leads here, That said crime affects life expectancy severely, Chile was spared geographically from the drug wars. If not they would look like Honduras or Mexico. That is why I prefer the statistic below for true healthcare comparison.

              “Infant Mortality, deaths per 1,000 births. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
              Chile 1990 3rd 15.7 [14th in 1970]
              Venezuela 2011 6th 12.9”

              Venezuela also leads here since lower is better, BTW Latin America is also a lot better too meaning the ranking is also difficult. But I do agree Chile as of today has better infant mortality numbers.

              Pinochet was shitty in many many places most notably GDP per capita in PPP dollars (pls, nobody be stupid enough to quote the black market rate) even accounting for inflation it was roughly half per capita of current Venezuela.

              The Concertacion has had excellent statistics though, and Venezuela is keeping up with them since the defeat of the Coordinadora.


              • Shame:

                That is why I prefer the statistic below for true healthcare comparison.

                “Infant Mortality, deaths per 1,000 births. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
                Chile 1990 3rd 15.7 [14th in 1970]
                Venezuela 2011 6th 12.9″

                Venezuela also leads here since lower is better,

                Really now.
                From World Bank Data:
                Country Infant Mortality, 1990 Latin America and the Caribbean
                Cuba 10.6
                Costa Rica 14.5
                Chile 15.7
                Uruguay 20.2
                Argentina 24.4
                Venezuela, RB 2 5.7
                Panama 26
                Colombia 27.8
                Jamaica 28.4
                Trinidad and Tobago 32.1
                Mexico 38.1
                Ecuador 40.8
                Paraguay 41.3
                Honduras 42.9
                Dominican Republic 45.2
                El Salvador 46.5
                Guyana 48.4
                Brazil 48.8
                Nicaragua 50.4
                Peru 53.6
                Guatemala 55.5
                Bolivia 82.7
                Haiti 99.2
                Data for two decades later:
                Country Infant Mortality, 2011 Latin America and the Caribbean<
                Cuba 4.5
                Chile 7.7
                Costa Rica 8.6
                Uruguay 8.7
                Argentina 12.6
                Venezuela, RB 12.9
                El Salvador 13.1
                Mexico 13.4
                Brazil 13.9
                Peru 14.1
                Colombia 15.4
                Jamaica 15.7
                Panama 16.7
                Honduras 18.2
                Paraguay 19.1
                Ecuador 19.6
                Dominican Republic 20.9
                Nicaragua 21.6
                Guatemala 24.2
                Trinidad and Tobago 24.5
                Guyana 29.4
                Bolivia 39.3
                Haiti 52.9

                You are telling me that as Chile had the third best Infant Mortality rate in 1990. the 2nd best Infant Mortality rate in 2011, while Venezuela had the 6th best Infant Mortality rate both years, that “Venezuela is still better.” Also note that as Chile had the 12th best Infant Mortality rate in 1970, the 11th best Infant Mortality rate in 1973, and the 3rd best Infant Mortality rate in 1990, it had made considerable progress. “Venezuela is still better.”

                Tell me another cowboy tale.

                ** I made a mistake on the 1970 Infant Mortality rankings. In sorting, I didn’t notice that Surname and Belize had null figures for that year, so actually Chile ranked 12th in 1970.


              • Since we are comparing 1990 with 2012 then yes obviously Venezuela with only 12.9 deaths per 1000 is most definitely better than Chile with 15.7 per 1000

                Its simple math.


              • Shame

                “Life expectancy, years. Rank in Latin America and the Caribbean
                Chile 1990 3rd 73.6 [12th in 1970]
                Venezuela 2011 10th 74.3 years”

                But Venezuela still leads here,

                Really now.
                1970 Life Expectancy Rankings for Latin America
                Chile 12th, 62.1 years
                Venezuela 10th, 63.8 years

                1990 Life Expectancy Rankings for Latin America
                Chile 3rd, 73.6 years
                Venezuela 8th, 71.1 years

                2011 Life Expectancy Rankings for Latin America
                Chile 3rd, 79.0 years
                Venezuela 10th, 74.3 years
                But Venezuela still leads here.
                Shame, indudablemente sos un sinvergüenza. Bien has elegido tu apodo.


              • Rankings are so effing meaningless when you have such a perfect statistic like infant mortality, holy shit would you rather be last in Europe or first in Latin America?

                Don’t give me the tripe that they are the same either after the pink wave 2012 in Latin America is completely different to the 1990 when it was “the end of history”.

                So AGAIN you would be better off in a country that has a 12 infant mortality over one with 15, next topic.


              • Isn’t this awful. When finally caught in his own petards, Shame then excuses the statistics he so proudly believed in, earlier, as effing meaningless.

                Classic. Just classic dishonesty.


          • I’d characterize most of the left as VERY disingenuous, and the environment that they create to further their aims, rather stupid.

            I’m not referring to the new members of the club, the impressionable young, say among university students, who are, in the words of Fidel Castro (c.1960), “the soldiers of tomorrow”. (He knew a gold mine when he saw it.)

            I’m referring to more seasoned members who continue to nurse their psychological wounds of (self-)exclusion, who prefer to stew in the juices of mediocrity, pretending otherwise. These are the mentors who wallow in pseudo-righteousness, as they teach the impressionables the politics of revenge, and that the end justifies the means. With an audience, the mentors gain a mirage of authority, of power, which they know they would not be able to attain, outside leftist circles, without (lengthy) training — how bourgeois! — and (gasp!) work — ditto. To maintain this mirage, these characters skew the optics for their benefit. “Bourgeois training? What for? I can pretend and be just as good. ”

            You’ll never find the characters among the poor, actually working to better their conditions. That would mean getting one’s hands dirty. But as long as these characters can give that impression to each other and their audiences of the gullible, while taking as much as they can from those who follow a straighter path, especially if the straight-and-narrow have a little wealth, well that’s ok, Jack.

            Dishonesty personified.

            But shhhhh. We wouldn’t want to reveal this reality to those who get sucked in by poor-me tales.


            • Excellent description of the Leftist should-know-better intellectual/media/governmental leaders/opinion makers of today. The sad thing is that that these charlatans (and their usually-paid hypsters like GAC=Shame=Instinctive Path, ad infinitum) are able to pull the wool over the eyes, for a time at least, until the inevitable economic collapse, of their general audience of under-educated/impoverished working poor with their promises of Egalitarian Socialist/Communist Nirvana.


  25. Boludo

    I notice you are completely bypassing the point I made about former President Aylwin…Why do you ignore this point? WHY?


    Two reasons why. One… may have overlooked the thousands killed and tens of thousand of people who were tortured and displaced under Pinochet.
    Second, because all this debate does is take me back to my original point, which is that the crazy left which rationalizes or ignores the abuses of Castro sounds a lot like the crazy right which rationalizes or ignores the abuses of Pinochet.

    First point: from the beginning of this debate, I stated that Pinochet was THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS Let me repeat: THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS. Contrary to your claim that that “you may have overlooked the thousands killed and tens of thousand of people who were tortured and displaced under Pinochet,” I used the term THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS, which admits that Pinochet committed evil deeds. Among such evil deeds would be torture and killing.
    Second point: you talk about the “crazy right which rationalizes or ignores the abuses of Pinochet” as a reason to ignore the point I made about former President Aylwin. Aylwin was elected President as the leader of Concertación, a center-left coalition. The members of the Concertación coalition included the following.

    Christian Democratic Party
    Socialist Party- Allende’s party.
    Party for Democracy- social democratic
    Social Democrat Radical Party- a member of Socialist International .

    By no measure is Patricio Aylwin a member of the “crazy right,” judging by the members in his coalition. As Aylwin is NOT a member of the “crazy right,” it defies logic for you to ignore my point about Aylwin by pointing to the “crazy right.”
    As you do not appear to be serious, I see no point in continuing this conversation. Ciao.
    I was originally appalled at the coup. After extensive reading in the 1980s, I saw that Allende was not the angel the left painted him to be, nor was Pinochet the devil. Rather, the picture was considerably mixed.


    • Boludo, I acknowledge that you say these are both evils. I think you and I probably see eye to eye on some of the critical facts. The problem I have with calling something the ‘lesser of two evils’, is that it is a phrase generally used to refer to a choice in respect of which there are no other options. That is, when faced with no other option, people speak of being forced to pick ‘the lesser of two evils’.

      That’s the problem I have with calling Pinochet the lesser of two evils. It is a notion that gets trotted out by old school right wingers of the extreme type in polite company, to rationalize what he did. This argument is a version of the other argument being made by some folks here that Pinochet was a necessary evil. Or actually, some here are just saying, he was necessary, and perhaps good.

      On the issue of the Iron Curtain, at the risk of sounding like Zelig, a chunk of my family lived behind the Iron Curtain. I got to know some of those parts. I was living in West Germany when the Wall came down. It is not lost on me, what communism is, and what it did.


      • Thanks for the reply. Given that you had relatives behind the Iron Curtain, I wonder why you would ever snark about “Chilean Marxists eating away at our softness.” The paternal grandparents of a childhood friend came from Eastern Europe. In the 1950s, my friend’s parents visited the old country for a week. Among the festivities was a dinner which included the relatives of my friend’s grandmother and grandfather. Decades later, my friend’s father found out a relative by marriage [who later became a Commissar of sorts] of the grandmother had ordered the execution of relatives of the grandfather- which meant there were hidden feelings during that reunion dinner. To say the least.

        The argument has definitely been made that as there were alternatives in 1973 to the coup, it is not accurate to view the coup as the “lesser of two evils.” Certainly there were options to the coup, such as keep the deadlock of the status quo. My reply is that when a 63% vote of the Chamber of Deputies supports a coup, Chile has spoken. All living former Presidents in 1973 also supported the coup- Frei, Allesandri, Gonzalez Videla. From the view of the military, what probably was the last straw was the August mutiny in the navy. Several days before the coup, Socialist Party President Carlos Altimirano – that would be Allende’s party- publicly admitted responsibility for fomenting the mutiny. Military people do not like mutinies- especially mutinies fomented by the head of the President’s party.

        Where the train gets off the tracks is that nearly all of the Christian Democrat and Nationalist politicians who supported the coup- including Patricio Aylwin- expected that the Junta [Pinochet was not yet dominant] would call elections in several months. Some have said that the coup began not when the Junta overthrew Allende, but when it dissolved Congress.

        Regarding what should have been done, or not done, AFTER September 11, 1973, is an issue open to debate. But the coup itself- supported by a 63% vote of the Chamber of Deputies- didn’t destroy democracy in Chile. Allende and his supporters had already done that by their repeated violations of the Constitution. As 63% is less than 67%, Allende couldn’t be impeached. And as Allende essentially ruled by decree by then- such as most of his nationalizations- Congress couldn’t do much to stop him. Chile was between a rock and a hard place.

        While “old school right wingers of the extreme type” may use the term “lesser of two evils” to describe Pinochet, you still haven’t addressed my point that former Patricio Aylwin, who has never been anyone’s idea of an “old school right winger of the extreme type,” also saw Pinochet as the lesser of two evils.

        Civilian coup supporters often find out that the military is not simply a trained dog that will perform at their command. Many of the former coup supporters, such as ex-President Frei and future President Aylwin, later turned against Pinochet. Knowing what Aylwin knows now 40 years later- even though he sees Pinochet as the lesser of two evils- would he still have supported the coup? [Aylwin was the primary author of the August 22 Resolution, so yes, he did support the coup.] I don’t know. It would be a good question to ask him. My guess is that Aylwin would have a difficult time answering the question. I also suspect that Aylwin would not appreciate someone pointing out that at the time, he supported the coup.


  26. In this age of entitlement, a Marxist or leftist government can be self perpetuating by creating an ample group of clients( individuals and companies) who become dependent on government support.This growing dependence requires increasing government control that can lead to Left wing authoritarianism and eventually dictatorship. On the other hand, a Right wing dictatorship can only be temporarily justified as an action to prevent a Left wing dictatorship from taking root.Right wing dictatorships are far from ideal solutions, however they may emerge in some situations where there is almost no other choice. Right wing authoritarianism does not have a credible excuse in itself, unlike the left wing which claims to help the poor, and its success in establishing law and order and free enterprise would make it obsolete and give way to demands for democracy.

    The only justification to keep a Right wing dictatorship is to allow for a society to stabilize and have the time to heal itself from previous Marxist distortions.Something like a rehab program…. and the very success of this rehab program would make it obsolete.


    • Neither right wing nor left-wing dictatorships are ever justified. Once you are okay with dictatorship, you give up the right to be surprised that they pay you no heed, and treat your rights with contempt.


      • Jeffry House,

        Of course,and perhaps the word’ justified’ was not the the best choice here….i think inevitable reaction would have been better, but in reacting this way in the case of Chile at least there was a rehab of sorts .
        It is also a fact that in the past fifty years, right wing dictatorships in LA have been relatively short lived, whereas left wings tend to entrench.

        Lesser of the two evils


        • There have only been two leftwing dictatorships in Latin America. Castro and Velasco, the latter was toppled quickly.

          I could spend days listing all the rightwing dictatorships in Latin America. So yea the right is more dangerous by far.


          • Shame,

            I was referring to authoritarian governments as well, including Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Chavismo,and to a lesser extent Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

            As for the right wing governments I repeat: they were relatively short lived …in the last 50 years, there have been less and less of these governments and a much stronger tendency towards the left, which makes it increasingly harder to get leftist authoritarian governments removed.

            Unlike the cold war years,rt wing dictatorships in LA no longer receive support from the US government, whereas the left wing ones can count on support or understanding from much of the mainstream International and the purse strings of Chavismo.


            • Danny Ortega lost an election and gave up power. So again what are you talking about? This is not Algeria, when the left lose elections they leave. With the exception of Cuba that is admittedly a dictatorship.

              Now lets look at the post Cold War coups that gained power by toppling democracies (if ever so briefly). Venezuela, Honduras and Paraguay. Yeah the right is more dangerous towards democracy.

              The left wing boogey man is ridiculous, you should be deathly afraid of the right because at any moment it could turn bloody like Egypt today, or Chile under Pinochet. Another Cuba is almost impossible, not even Chavez could do it even the same cubans adviced him not to. Whereas the right is always pushing for instability->coup, always.


  27. you need to visit cuba to see how bad things are ,its strange that many young people that I met in havanna are so proud nationalists who will offer their gilfriends for money for sex.


    • and the lightweight quips continue to mask treaded toes and an inability to look at matters with a dispassionate eye …


      • I don’t know this expression treaded toes. Are treaded toes like cloven hoofs? Can they be masked with quips? Its not quite Kipling, Syd, but you’ve got a love of language and I’ve got to respect that.


  28. I remember, as a child, many anti-Castro meetings and seminars held in Caracas by pro-democracy (as in neither-Castro-nor-Restoration) Cuban dissidents and supported by some -not all- Venezuelan politicians. I went to a few with my father, at a time when being anti-Castro was unfashionable. The first time I saw a shark bitten “balsa” was at one of these gatherings…

    Every Christmas we would go to the Pro-Democracy in Cuba house (somewhere in Sebucan) and have a modest event. These were the guys from the Cuban Christian Democratic party in exile, which have supporting networks with the Damas de Blanco and the Proyecto Valera groups.

    Alas, remember that Venezuelan democracy had been an adversary of Castro’s politics, both in South America and in the Caribbean, save for both Pérez presidencies. But after the Cold War, the threat lost its punch. When Peña Esclusa showed the video of Chavez in Havana back in 1994, few people blinked (Castro was, after all, a storied strong guy like no other). When a few of pro-Democracy Cubans protested Castro’s visits -especially in 1997’s Iberoamerican Summit- the government cracked them down (you can guess who pulled all of his strings to get them out of DISIP’s cells).

    But now most pro-Democracy Cubans have left Venezuela, and the anti-Cuban hysteria is mixed with a rabid, Miami-like, Batista-centered, airs of restoration. Our own exile in Miami has dismissed the advocacy of pro-Democracy groups there, but has linked itself -mostly- with über reactionaries.

    P.S. I also used to go to meetings regarding the Eastern Bloc and, especially Pro-Solidarity masses.


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