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LATIN AMERICAN DICTATORSHIPS: "There is always a justification"

Rosa de Pena of Argentina responds to my comments on dictatorships: "There are plenty of relatives of those who ended up in concentration camps, got thrown out of airplanes, women raped by dogs, and other niceties. You expect them to be reasonable like good WAISers?"

No one justifies such things, but simply insulting other WAISers (which is against our rules) simply alienates them. A factual account from one who has suffered wins sympathy. I will post a reasonable piece by an Argentine WAISer who is very convincing.

"Bolivar might be an admirer of parliamentary democracy in theory. In practice, he was more than a bit of a dictator" His ideal was parliamentary democracy, but he gave up. In Bogotá his sword is display. In Colombia, he is the icon of the Conservatives, Santander, "the man of laws", that of the Liberals. Bolivar is again becoming a revolutionary hero.

US businessmen are "worse than reactionaries. I recall a Ford manager in Argentina. He had labor troubles, which he solved asking the military to "disappear" the labor representatives and for them to be tortured to death". I do not know that particular case. US businessmen prefer a dictatorship to a turbulent leftist regime which makes life impossible for them. However, I have personally inspected the cases of companies like the much-maligned United Fruit, and they were much more generous and decent with their employees than local employers. Their problem is that they were foreign.

In considering the period of Latin American dictatorships, we must remember that it was during the Cold War, and that Castro and Allende planned a continental change, taking Castro's Cuba as a model. That problem still exists. In Colombia FARC rejects the label "terrorists", calling themselves revolutionaries. In Peru Alejandro Toledo is fighting the Sendero Luminoso. The future of Latin America is uncertain, as is that of the world after September 11. Much as we criticize the US capitalist system, Castroism is no solution, but it is too soon to say how it will work out.

Ronald Hilton - 11/8/01