Discover more from Bet On It
Latin America keeps electing admitted radical leftists.
The new Chilean president is Gabriel Boric. He rules the richest country in Latin America, but gleefully tells us, “if Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave.” What’s his alternative? “I come from the Chilean libertarian socialist tradition, that is my ideological space of reference.”
Colombia’s president-elect, Gustavo Petro, was a youthful socialist guerilla. When Chavez died, he opined, “You lived in Chávez's times and maybe you thought he was a clown. You were fooled. You lived in the times of a great Latin American leader.”
Thanks to Chavez and Maduro, there’s a straightforward argument against electing such leftists. Namely: These maniacs will turn our country into another Venezuela.
In all honesty, though, this argument is flawed. After all, Boric, Castillo, and Petro have all gone out of their ways to distance themselves from the sins of Chavez and Maduro. Listen to what Boric has to say:
Venezuela is a failed experience and the main demonstration is the 6 million Venezuelans in diaspora.
And more generally:
[J]ust as the left must condemn the violation of human rights in Chile during the dictatorship and also today, the soft coups in Brazil, Honduras and Paraguay, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, or the interventionism of the United States, we must from the left with the same force condemn the permanent restriction of freedoms in Cuba, the repressive government of Ortega in Nicaragua, the dictatorship in China and the weakening of the basic conditions of democracy in Venezuela.
Peru’s Pedro Castillo, similarly, has already resigned from the Marxist-Leninist Free Peru party, and denied the legitimacy of the recent Nicaraguan election. He assures his countrymen that there will be “no communism” under his government.
In the same vein, Colombia’s Petro signed a public document pledging not to carry out expropriations if elected. And he lashed out against Maduro on social media, writing, "I suggest Maduro to stop his insults. Cowards are those who do not embrace democracy."
Of course, you could say that these are mere words, all part of Boric, Castillo, and Petro’s undeniable plots to create three new socialist hellholes. As as a betting man, though, I’d have to demur, “What are the odds?” Would you really bet 10:1 that in ten years, Chile, Peru, and Colombia will be anywhere near as bad as Venezuela?
I wouldn’t - and if you disagree, please email me to work out a bet.
Once you start thinking about the probability that Chile, Peru, or Colombia becomes a Venezuelan-style hellhole, however, you quickly stumble upon a genuinely excellent argument against the election of radical leftists in Latin America. Indeed, the argument is awesome.
Namely: In this region of the world, there is at least a 15% chance that a radical leftist leader will turn his country into another Venezuela. This isn’t just a horrible outcome; history shows that it is an almost irremediable horrible outcome, because hard-core socialists are masters of retaining power. Even a 15% chance of this total disaster should lead any prudent person to say, “Hard pass.”
Imagine your friend is about to play Russian roulette. The impulsively appealing objection is an adamant, “If you do this, you will die.” Unfortunately, this objection is literally false, because most people who play a single round of Russian roulette don’t die. Fortunately, there is still a mighty argument against giving the game a try. Namely: If you do this, there is a 15% chance that you will die.
The only decent reply your friend could offer would be something like: “If I don’t die, I get ten million dollars,” or “If I don’t die, humanity receives the cure for cancer.” Your obvious rebuttal would then be: “Sounds fake. Has that ever even happened before?”
Similarly, the only decent argument for playing Venezuelan roulette would be something like: “If our country doesn’t become a socialist hellhole, it will become heaven on Earth.” And once again, the obvious rebuttal is: “Sounds fake. Has that ever even happened before?” If you know anything about the history of socialism, you know the answer.
Bottom line: Chile, Peru, and Colombia have all chosen to play a round of Venezuelan roulette. Smart money says that none of them will actually end up like Venezuela. But their voters are fools nonetheless. They are taking a moderate chance of destroying their countries. For no good reason.