The sordid history of socialism offers many lessons to those who want to learn. But like an adult that never matures beyond their teenage years, Latin America has difficulty learning those lessons.
The Failure of Socialism: Lessons for Latin America
The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, is one of the most memorable events of the second half of the 20th century. The images recorded by thousands of cameras and repeated to infinity by television channels around the globe moved, not only as a record of a historical moment of high impact, but above all as symbols of the courage, energy, and joys of freedom.
A year later, another event, this time of a legal nature, followed this highly emotional one. This event is now 30 years old. On October 3, 1990, the two Germanies officially agreed on their unity, marking a before and after for their history, that of Europe, and that of the entire world.
In a context of pandemic restrictions, Germany celebrates today the Day of German Unity, an event that we can also analyze from a Latin American perspective, drawing two major lessons:
Lesson #1: Development goes hand in hand with freedom
Firstly, for anyone who holds the most basic of intellectual honesty, the secession of Germany exposes the differences in living standards and well-being between a regime that respects individual freedoms and one that curtails them. The complete failure of centralized planning of the economy to provide a minimum of welfare and happiness was evident.
As revealed by the Index of Economic Freedom published annually by the Heritage Foundation, those countries with the greatest respect for individual rights, protection of private property, contractual freedom, the lowest tax burden, and reasonable levels of public spending are the most prosperous. Always. Currently, several countries at the bottom of that list are Latin American.
Lesson #2: Walls can be torn down
Over the past 50 years at least, Latin America has oscillated back and forth between left and right-wing regimes, but with a clear predominance of statist ideologies more akin, in that sense, to the political character of East Germany. There have been exceptions- the brief periods or governments more oriented towards the ideas of freedom, such as those of President Sebastián Piñera in the Republic of Chile, elected twice, or President Luis Lacalle Pou in the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.
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