Pink Tide – The Latin American Experiment with 21st Century Results
By Jacob Sutherland
I think it’s fair to say that the phrase, “to each their own,” is something that is ever pertinent in the changing political climate of a post-modern 21st Century. The idea that life is a “choose your own adventure” game has been put into practice around the globe, is made even more apparent in regards to Socialism with several Latin American nations.
It is safe to say that Venezuela has gotten a bad wrap lately, and frankly, I have no sympathy for the governing body. As a “democratic socialist” who is descendent of a Venezuelan immigrant, I can safely say that Chávez is disgracing the identity of “Venezuelan” with his over-extension of the term “Socialism”. Sure, he has made accomplishments in the name of the pink ideology, such as decreasing poverty by half and by increasing the availability of both clean drinking water and sanitation; however, Chávez has manipulated the whole of Venezuela to be his own personal bank where the every day “ciudadanos” are merely workers in a tyrannical “Chávez Inc.”
Further, we can see a similar kind of corruption going on to the north in Nicaragua under the rule of President Daniel Ortega. Initially coming to power in the late 70’s as a revolutionary, Ortega soon lost his power to the several US backed presidents, Chamorro, Alemán, and Bolaños, all of whom followed neoliberal policies favored by the United States. However, Ortega came back to power in 2006, setting up socialist organizations similar to that of Chávez, and also following his footsteps in regards to reaching for a monetary gain at the cost of his nation.
However, not all that the “pink tide” has brought has been negative. Take a look at Bolivia, for example. Starting with the foundations set by his predecessors, President Evo Morales would turn around his country’s economic situation with socialist programs, not only improve the lives for Bolivians at large but also gain positive support from the failed regimes of Chávez and Fidel Castro. The reason that Morales was able to succeed where others have failed was simply that he did not let his own economic interests get in the way of his citizens’ livelihoods.
Even looking at Cuba, we can see that not all hope is lost for the Socialist ideology. Clearly, Cuba has been run more like a tyranny that a socialistic republic in the last few decades; however, some progress has been made following the dissolution of the USSR. In the remaining years of his life and time in power, Fidel Castro created a minimum wage of $25, renovated their national healthcare system, remade the education system of Cuba for the better, and even publicly apologized for the imprisonment of gay Cubans in work camps. These steps toward both economic and social prosperity mark a significant change in regards to Socialism for the better, and with both Castro gone and the United States’ embargo on Cuba lifted, the Cuban model may soon be one that is followed by nations for generations.
Now, when all is said and done, does Socialism really work? In my opinion, Socialism not only works but is significantly important. However, that all comes with a catch: a system of state ownership can only survive if, and only if, the governing body leaves behind their own personal motivations for the better of the nation. This philosophy may be tough to put into practice, but once instated, it surely will change the world for the better.