Sunday, December 18, 2005

Latin America Leaning to the Left

Latin America fascinates me. The fact that I'm half Cuban has a lot to do with it. Cuba, the country my father fled from to seek political freedom, is always in the back of my mind. Wondering when my father will ever see his brother again and visit the graves of his parents, of whom he never was able to see die, constantly agonizes me. I speak to my cousin (mind you, I've never met her) through emails that we keep short and basically vague in fear that she might suffer repurcussions. Once in awhile, I get the opportunity to speak to my uncle and my other cousin (her brother) if my father happens to call when I am at his place. The email conversations are new only occurring for the past four years. Other than that, I don't know my family in Cuba. I've been jipped.

Then again, I barely have any type of contact with my mother's side of the family who live in Madrid. I have both of my aunts' emails and they have mine, but we don't communicate (I think I'll drop them an email today). I have another cousin, who lives in Spain, that I've never spoken to. The way I look at it is that they have a choice to come and visit, call me, write to me, etc. My Cuban family is limited to the occasional phone call and email. Go figure.

The rest of Latin America worries me. There is always unrest, extreme poverty, very corrupt political officials, the illiteracy rates are high, and the countries don't rely much upon each other to enhance themselves. All of these reasons are a recipe for destruction. Although I do blame Spain for creating such inexplicable conditions in Latin America, when are Latin Americans going to take responsibity for their actions?

Well they are, but not what I deem to be a viable solution. Most of the countries in Latin America are leaning towards the left. You have countries like Venezuela that are very critical of Washington policies and promise a better place under the socialistic umbrella. The majority of the poor people have lost hope in the rich and want to be heard. There's a reason why millions try to leave their countries and illegally enter the United States, which I find strange since most of them are so critical of capitalism.

Juan Forero, a writer for the New York Times, has written an excellent article on how Latin Americans are looking at socialism as an answer to their problems. As he points out in the article, there are different degrees of leftist thinking. He quotes the book "The New Left in Latin America," which states "In recent years, social movements and leftist parties in Latin America have reappeared with a force that has no parallel in the recent history in the region." I find this to be alarming.

If capitalism works in the United States, why not in Latin America? Of course capitalism is not perfect. There are many people living in poverty, our minimum wage is a joke, and there is always some form of corruption in our government. But you cannot deny that the United States is a very successful rich country. In less than two hundred years, we became a world power. Why not Latin America? They have vast amounts of natural resources that would allow them to gain some kind of stake. They don't take advantage of it.

There are many different reasons for this. I could write a book about it. Racism is a very prominent factor in their problems. You think racism is a problem in the United States? There are true Indians who are looked down upon because they are Indian by others who are half-Indian and half-Spanish descent. They may each have the same physical features, but because one has Spanish blood it makes all of the difference. To say that the Indian population in Latin America are not represented adequately, is an understatement. The same kind of racism is apparent within the black and Spanish populations that are prominent in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. So within their own societies, relationships between the "different" ethnicities are sabotaged, which explains why the governments lean on foreign aid. They allow Europe and North America to own their natural resources. Instead of helping each other out, they isolate themselves.

Now as I mentioned before, I could go on about this. There are many other reasons for the problems evident in Latin America. Let's say that the countries turn into socialism or communism, how many people are going to suffer the same consequences my father has, my family and friends have, and myself? There is a reason why many Cubans have fled their homes. In doing so, they have lost what is most important--family. My father has not seen his brother since 1971. He never saw his father or mother die. He's never met his niece and nephew. My father is not the only who has suffered this fate. This is just one example. Families dispersed into different countries loose out.

There has to be a restructuring of the governments in order for these countries to flourish. Corruption has to be minimized. Officials cannot fatten their pockets while the rest of the population do not have the means to feed themselves. Instead of mistrusting each other, Latin American countries have to start helping each other out. Education should be available to all. The Indian and black populations have to be represented. This will all take many years to accomplish, but I do feel that these are steps in the right direction.

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