Short honeymoon for the Latin American left

Am I happy that Latin America elected leftists? Of course not, but it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Down in Chile, leftist President Gabriel Boric is struggling in the polls.  He is learning that changing a constitution is complicated, especially if your message is divisive and economically risky.   

Over in Colombia, newly sworn in leftist President Gustavo Petro will soon to face reality as well, such as slow economic growth rates, high levels of corruption, entrenched inequality, inadequate health and education services, and poor infrastructure. Add to this a faltering peace process with former insurgents and a history of bad relations with Venezuela and it will get ugly fast .

Yes. honeymoons are turning out to be short for the Latin American left:     

The experience of Petro’s ideological soulmates in Chile, Peru, and Argentina offer useful lessons. 

The first is to avoid interpreting their recent electoral success as a triumph of socialism or an invitation to repeat the failed state-centric economic policies of the early 2000s. Instead of voting for fresh ideas, Latin Americans have been voting against incumbent governments.

Most of the region’s sitting presidents were conservatives, so a change of guard inevitably means a shift left, a trend which began with Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s victory in Mexico in 2018. 

Reasons for discontent abound: living standards are falling, the state is failing to deliver, and the best opportunities are too often reserved for a privileged few. The pandemic exacerbated social tensions.

As a result, presidential honeymoons are short and expectations almost impossibly high. The perils for new leaders are obvious: the presidents of Chile and Peru have seen their approval ratings collapse in a matter of months because they disappointed impatient voters. 

In Argentina, the incumbents facing a drubbing at the polls next year are on the left. 

Voters care about results, not ideology.

Yes, governing is tough specially when the elected leaders misread public sentiments.    It turns out that Latin American voters were angry at incumbents, particularly after the pandemic.  The left exploited the anger and promised a lot — a lot that they can’t deliver.  And now the honeymoons are over and the voters are angry with the left for failing to deliver, such as in Peru, Chile, and Argentina.

How long will President Petro’s honeymoon last?  Not long, especially if he listens to the “three amigos” in Lima, Santiago, and Buenos Aires.

P.S.:  Check out  my videos  and posts.

(My new American Thinker post)

1948 and saving the people of West Berlin

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It was so long ago that many have forgotten a chapter in the brutal history of communism. On this day in 1948, President Truman confronted a serious communist challenge in Berlin:

One of the most dramatic standoffs in the history of the Cold War begins as the Soviet Union blocks all road and rail traffic to and from West Berlin.

The blockade turned out to be a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the United States emerged from the confrontation with renewed purpose and confidence.

It was a shining moment for President Truman, who met the challenge by flying supplies to the people of West Berlin:

The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union.

On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.

The Berlin Airlift was one of President Truman’s finest moments! It was a wonderful demonstration of US presidential leadership. It also gave us the story of  “the candy bombers” or US pilots who dropped candy for the children of Berlin.

P.S.  You can listen to my show. 

Colombia’s Petro and the reality of governing

 (My new American Thinker post)

A couple of nights ago, I got a taste of politics in Colombia.  A 40-something lady in my class was worried about her country going to the left.  A young woman had the smile on her face that reminded me of the Obama “hope and change” rallies of 2008.  Two Colombians and their faces told the story.

Yes, it’s hard to believe Gustavo Petro, a leftist of leftists, will be the president of Colombia. I hate these results but  they are what they are. Let’s hope that reality is a bigger threat to his presidency than a weak center-right candidate. In other words, president-elect Petro may find that climate change and promoting social justice is a better campaign speech than a governing plan.

There is a good article about this in Bloomberg:

To have any hope of succeeding in the face of global inflation and other hard-to-control headwinds, Petro must inject a dose of realism into an electoral program that verges on the naive. 

Protectionism won’t solve any of Colombia’s problems. 

His tax changes will struggle to meet spending promises that include wider pensions coverage and state jobs for those without work, even as unemployment is running at about 11%. 

He is right to focus on the energy transition, but how exactly will he fill the revenue hole left by hydrocarbons, once new exploration is halted and energy outfit Ecopetrol turned into a wind and solar producer? 

Crude is still Colombia’s biggest export, and sudden shifts can give investor confidence a nasty knock. 

Assets tumbled after markets re-opened on Tuesday following the election. 

Talk of bypassing the normal workings of government by declaring an “economic emergency,” meanwhile, is both short-sighted and alarming for an already vulnerable democracy that few trust.

So President Petro has a little bit of a challenge. He won’t be lucky like Fidel Castro, who was subsidized by the USSR, or Chavez who used oil revenues to stay in power. Yes, you never heard Hugo Chavez talk about climate change! So I will be cautiously optimistic. I trust that Colombia’s middle class, who generally rejected Petro, will make a course correction. Petro should check out Chile, where leftist Boric’s approval rating has sunk to 33%, or Peru, where leftist Castillo can’t get anything done.

Again, I will trust Colombia’s middle class and hope that a Petro presidency is more practical and less ideological.

P.S.  Check out  my videos  and posts.

Justin the woke Canadian 

Normally, we talk about the Canadian hockey team or their ice skating couples in the Olympics.  Our friends up north are usually good at those activities.   Who knew that we’d be talking about truckers or a prime minister saying that conservatives were hanging around with swastikas or confederate flags.  The wokes are as predictable as an Annette Funicello movie.

What’s happening up north is this:

First, PM Justin Trudeau is having a panic attack.  He doesn’t know how to handle a crisis.  He should have sat down with these truckers two weeks ago and shown some respect.  

Second, PM Trudeau and the “wokes” down here are just showing us what they think of their critics, as Tom Slater wrote:    

We need new political labels. That much has become clear amid Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s crackdown on the truckers’ revolt — the now weeks-long protests by truckers and their supporters, in Ottawa and elsewhere, against Covid vaccine mandates.   

This week, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, for the first time in the law’s history, allowing banks to freeze the accounts of anyone associated with the protests with no need for court orders. Deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland added that the government was expanding rules on ‘terrorist financing’ to cover cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding sites. The vehicle insurance of anyone involved in the protests can also now be suspended, and police have been given new powers to imprison or fine protesters.

As disruptive as some of the truckers’ tactics are — the point of protest, after all, is to cause disruption — this is a remarkably authoritarian move, made by a ‘liberal’ prime minister desperately trying to defend his authoritarian Covid policies. 

To be fair, I do not support blocking bridges or disrupting trade routes.  At the same time. most of the truckers were not doing that.  Most of them were just protesting their opposition to the mandates. I did not see police cars burning or businesses torched.  

The truckers have succeeded in having provinces change their rules.  It’s only a matter of time before Trudeau starts following the “political” science like his Democrat allies down here.

P.S.  You can listen to my show.  (My new American Thinker post)

The other 9-11

Over in Chile, they remember another anniversary of the 1973 overthrow of President Allende.   

Back in 1970, Salvador Allende was elected in a very controversial three-way race that ended up in the Chilean supreme court.  The vote results were:   

Salvador Allende, socialist  1,075,616

Jorge Alessandri, independent  1,036,278

Radomiro Tomic, Christian Democrat  824,849

Allende won a plurality, or 36%.  It was challenged and ultimately upheld in the courts.  In retrospect, a runoff would have been better and Alessandri would have probably won.  It did not happen that way and Allende, whose socialist party was actually to the left of the Chilean communist party, made a massive turn to the left.

By the summer of 1973, Chile was in turmoil. Shortages abounded, political prisons were filled, workers were on strike, and Fidel Castro literally came down to give orders. President Allende had lost control of the situation.  I recall a business colleague of my father who returned from a trip to Santiago totally horrified with the situation.  He saw the panic in the streets, frustration and called it a perfect storm for a coup.Allende embarked on what he called a “Chilean path to socialism” but he totally misread public opinion.  Chile did not vote for a bona fide communist revolution and President Allende was totally out of line.  

By the way, I see a connection to the current Biden presidency, or how the left totally misunderstood the election.  In Chile, that election result was comparable to the bitter fight between Trump and Biden but in no way a statement that the nation wanted a leftist transformation.

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Shades of Mexico 1988 in USA 2020

Back in July 1988, I had a long business phone call with my late father-in-law.  I said goodbye and told him I was going to watch the Mexican elections on TV that night.  He said something that turned out to be prophetic:  “Cuidado con la computadora” (watch out with the computer).  He was referring to the new computer that was supposed to count the votes more efficiently than ever.  

Late on election night, the computer stopped counting:   

President Miguel de la Madrid governed Mexico for most of the 1980s, through one of its most painful economic crises, a devastating earthquake and a period of diplomatic tensions with the United States. But perhaps the most widely scrutinized act of his presidency came on the night in 1988 that his successor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was elected.

In an autobiography that began circulating in Mexico this week, Mr. de la Madrid sheds more light on that dark night in Mexico’s history. What he reveals is not new, political analysts said. But in 850 pages, Mr. de la Madrid’s memoirs give the firmest confirmation to date of one of this country’s biggest open secrets: the presidential elections of 1988 were rigged.

Political analysts and historians have described that election as one of the most egregious examples of the fraud that allowed the Institutional Revolutionary Party to control this country for more than seven decades, and the beginning of the end of its authoritarian rule.

Initial results from areas around the capital showed that Mr. Salinas was losing badly to the opposition leader Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. ”I felt like a bucket of ice water had fallen on me,” Mr. de la Madrid recalled. ”I became afraid that the results were similar across the country and that the PRI would lose the presidency.’

Later at night, I was watching the TV and heard that the vote counting had stopped. I called my father-in-law who laughed and said: “Se rompió la computadora” (the computer broke down). Yes, the computer broke down because the opposition vote was so strong that it shook up the people in power. In the end, all the votes from 1988 were burned to stop the controversy. It did not stop the controversy, but only made things worse.

Most Mexican analysts believe that 1988 was the “earthquake” that destroyed the ruling PRI party and gave rise to the opposition and current President Andres Lopez-Obardor.  In other words, Mexico was never the same after that night.

To be fair, the U.S. is not Mexico. Our system is much better and what happened in Mexico in 1988 was that the ruling PRI party would not accept an opposition victory.  But while the U.S. is not Mexico, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Detroit look a lot like Mexico’s corrupt one-party state.

I could not help but remember my late father-in-law the moment that Pennsylvania stopped counting the vote.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

From Portland to Chile, the left is burning everything down

What do Santiago, Chile and Portland, Oregon have in common?  They didn’t have anything in common until the radical left and the anarchists started burning everything that they could get away with.   Does this sound familiar?  Check this from PanAm Post:     

The Communist Party of Chile and its associates have sown among young people the idea that the state has the power to not only govern morality but that it can and should govern and deliver even goods and services.

To be fair, they are not burning churches in Portland.  However, they did go after statues of saints in other cities.    

So what’s going on?   We are watching an international movement to destroy the West.  They are not flying airplanes into our buildings anymore, or at least not for a while.  Instead, they have poisoned the young people in universities with ideas that the U.S. is inherently racist and that capitalism only benefits white men.  

Sadly, they’ve succeeded far beyond expectations.  This is what we are seeing in Santiago, Chile, or the most prosperous country in Latin America.  

How do we stop it?  It won’t be easy because the anarcho-communist radical left are willing to kill you if they can.   

The first step is to reelect President Trump and send a message that Americans are fed up with these criminals.   I’m optimistic but also lighting a few candles to my favorite saints.  

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Venezuela’s gas tank is empty

Over the years, Venezuela was associated with oil.  It was the country’s defining export. But as the New York Times reports, that was then and this is now:

For the first time in a century, there are no rigs searching for oil in Venezuela.

Wells that once tapped the world’s largest crude reserves are abandoned or left to flare toxic gases that cast an orange glow over depressed oil towns.

Refineries that once processed oil for export are rusting hulks, leaking crude that blackens shorelines and coats the water in an oily sheen.

Fuel shortages have brought the country to a standstill. At gas stations, lines go on for miles.

Venezuela’s colossal oil sector, which shaped the country and the international energy market for a century, has come to a near halt, with production reduced to a trickle by years of gross mismanagement and American sanctions. 

The collapse is leaving behind a destroyed economy and a devastated environment, and, many analysts say, bringing to an end the era of Venezuela as an energy powerhouse.

There you have it.  The best case against socialism.

Venezuela is not just out of oil.  It has also destroyed a once prosperous and well educated middle class.  Many from that middle class now live in the U.S. and support President Trump because they understand socialism in a way that few U.S. college students do.

As my late father said, communists steal your property and then destroy your country.  Venezuela is exhibit A!

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

How do you say Lakers vs Heat in ‘chino’?

Did you hear that L.A. and Miami are playing for the NBA title?  Maybe you did and don’t care, as we see from this TV ratings:

Game one of the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat averaged a 4.1 rating and 7.41 million viewers on US network ABC, making it the least-watched game of the champion-crowning series since at least 1988, according to Sports Media Watch.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a big NBA fan.  Honestly, it was a better game in the 1980s, when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird gave us a great rivalry.  Nevertheless, I did follow the finals, especially if the Mavericks or Spurs were representing Texas.

The NBA cannot write off a drop like that in TV ratings as a temporary case of “systemic racism.”  We may be watching something bigger than racism.  My guess is that a lot of fans, myself included, are just fed up with a little too much politics on the court or jerseys.

It makes me wonder what’s next.  At times of uncertainty, it’s a good idea to check with our friends at the Babylon Bee.  They may have hit on the solution to keep the dollars flowing and teams meeting bloated payrolls:

In an effort to salvage its relationship with China, the NBA is now requiring all players to stand for the Chinese national anthem at the beginning of every game.

The official song of the People’s Republic of China, “March of the Volunteers,” will be played at the start of all professional basketball games, whether at home or abroad. All players, fans, coaches, and employees will be required to stand and solemnly sing lyrics including the following:

Millions of but one heart we run towards the Communist tomorrow!
Build our homeland, guard our homeland, and fight gallantly.
March on! March on! March on!!

We, for tens of thousands of generations to come,
Hold high the Flag of Mao Zedong, march on!

Why not?  Win one for Mao.  Remind the world of how tolerant Mao was with dissent and how the Chinese cultural revolution allowed the masses to read their favorite books.  Those were the days, and the NBA will bring them back.

In the meantime, we can practice our Chinese and get ready for the Peking Lakers, Canton Celtics, and whatever mascot you want to use for the place where the virus came from.  Maybe the 19ers?

Yes, if I may steal someone else’s line, “Go woke, go broke.”  It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of uninformed and irrelevant tall people.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Groucho and the Cuban cigar

Julius Henry Marx was born in New York City on October 2, 1890.  Later, he and the Marx Brothers made us laugh and laugh. My favorite is “A night at the opera,” but the others are great, too!   My late father once told me that the movies were popular in Cuba.

Did you know that Groucho loved Cuban cigars?  He was often seen with a Cuban cigar in his mouth in movies or on his “You bet your life” television show.  

Groucho died in 1977.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter