If you want to see what 10 years of XXI Century Socialism does to a country, you don’t need to look any further than Venezuela. Since Hugo Chaves took power in 1999 the country started on a steady path towards self-destruction. By 2009, it was obvious that the only way out would be the removal of Chavez. Four years later Venezuela was dealt a lifeline: Chavez passed away. Most political and economic analysts around the world considered this to be a turning point because, seriously there couldn’t be anyone worse than Chavez to run the Venezuelans… or could there? Enter his successor: Nicolas Maduro.
Disciple of Chavez, and worshiper of Cuba’s Castro, Maduro finished nailing Venezuela’s coffin shut. There are riots in the streets, there is no food, no medicine, no jobs, and no prospects. Any Venezuelans who could, left the country, driving the biggest brain-drainage in the country’s history, all this while comfortably sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves.
Venezuela seems to be a country that doesn’t learn from its mistakes. Another country that doesn’t learn from its mistakes is Ecuador.
Ecuador, in fact, seems to learn neither from its mistakes nor from the mistakes of others. Back in 2007, while Chavismo was running rampant in Venezuela, and the disastrous effects of 8 years worth of XXI Century Socialism were evident to observers both from inside the country as well as from abroad, Ecuador went on to elect Rafael Correa, a self-denominated Castro admirer and Chavez follower.
For the next 10 years Correa went on to expand the size of the public sector to over one third of that of the economy, defaulted its sovereign debt, dilapidated the government’s coffers, increased duties and tariffs, increased red-tape making it almost impossible to start business, stifled and repressed any possibility of a political opposition, and of course lined his pockets and the pockets of those close to him in the process.
Then, in 2017, against all logic, Ecuador votes for Correa’s successor: Lenin Moreno. To say the election was dubious is an understatement, but the fact that Ecuador elected Moreno, a member of Correa’s party, over Guillermo Lasso, one of the country’s most successful bankers and a bona-fide representative of the political and economical right, tells us that Ecuador, not unlike its “Bolivarian Brother”, doesn’t learn from its mistakes.
But early this month I was shocked to read that Moreno is planning to open the country to private enterprise. Basically he is planning on incentivizing private investment in sectors such as oil, infrastructure, and telecommunications to the tune of $7 billion over the next 3 years. He is also expecting to eliminate seven of the 22 state enterprises keeping “only those that are profitable”. He promised important cuts in the central government saying: “we will get rid of ministers, secretaries, vice ministers, and under secretaries” – which isn’t half a bad idea, considering Ecuador has a “Happiness Ministry” called Secretariat of the Good Life among others that defy belief. As well as shutting down the ministries, and reducing personnel, there is a plan to sell fixed assets, all of which should raise several hundred million Dollars.
Moreno has turned against the forces that elected him and against the party that supported him, especially against the President that mentored him. Not only is he planning to undo some of Correa’s doings, but back in February – in what many considered a heavy blow to Correa’s future aspirations – Moreno won a referendum limiting presidential terms to two.
As an international observer with strong ties to the Banana Republic and a staunch capitalist, nothing gives me more pleasure than to read that some guy took the left for a ride, and is now a pushing a capitalist agenda. It reminds me of the episode of Alf when, after graduation he ditches his hippie outfit and is wearing a suit and tie underneath, and reveals to Willie that he got a job as a stock broker.
“Some disappointed party members are dubbing him a wolf in sheeps clothing, I see it more like Adam Smith in Karl Marx’s clothing.”
Some disappointed party members are dubbing him a wolf in sheeps clothing, I see it more like Adam Smith in Karl Marx’s clothing. Should I be getting so excited about this? Well, if history has taught us anything it is that if something is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. And if there is any way of messing it up, Ecuador will find it.
My friends and acquaintances in Ecuador are not that bullish on him either, they take more of an Aquinas’ approach “to see is to believe”
Only time will tell, but I will keep my eyes and ears open to see how this plays out.