Latin America has democracy, but lacks democrats

Mauricio Claver-Carone in The Hill:

Latin America has democracy, but lacks democrats America’s democratically elected leaders paraded through the last remaining dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere and paid homage to its totalitarian rulers.

They were in Havana for a summit last week of the Community of Latin American States (CELAC, in Spanish), an anti-U.S. concoction of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Currently the organization’s rotating presidency is held by Cuban dictator, Gen. Raul Castro.Seemingly these elected leaders were neither interested nor concerned that Cuba’s government had threatened, beaten and arrested hundreds of the island’s democracy advocates who had tried to plan and hold a parallel summit to discuss the lack of freedom and human rights in Cuba.

In regards to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, this would seem to be particularly unfortunate. Both were once themselves victims of military dictatorships and scorned dignitaries who coddled their repressors.

So why would Latin America’s democratically elected leaders willingly participate in such a hypocritical charade? What does Cuba’s morally, politically and economically bankrupt regime offer them that they would stake the loss of credibility by attending?

Some take part in these charades of diplomacy because they fear left-wing agitators back home; others simply attend to pursue business deals without transparency and some simply want to show they are anti-American.

Of course the main reason for their irreverence is that, despite being democratically elected, they lack democratic zeal and conviction. Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have all evidenced authoritarian ambitions. Others hide them better. 

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