Allende, FARC – And Foolishness

The other day I was having a conversation about Latin America when the topic drifted naturally to their disastrous cyclical experimentation with communism. It was a prescient conversation – even as I write this the Colombian people are going to the polls, having been asked by their president to not only forgive the communists for their 50 years of torture, abductions and terrorism – but to embrace them and surrender to them a sacred role in Colombian political life; a request that has been met by acclaim the continent over.

As if they have changed their ideas. As if their project is not, well the same project it’s always been. “I know,” the idea goes, “let’s take them out of the bush, shine them up and they can compete and we’ll see if their ideas take hold. Colombia can handle it. Oh,” chastisement when I show concern, “Colombia is certainly not Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia – Cuba. Calm down there tiger, it’s gonna be fine!”

Foolishness dressed up as wisdom; presaging another cycle of instability for Colombia in the future, this time with the communists in the Presidential Palace instead of the bush and the opposition fighting from their prisons, covered as they will be in excrement – broken-spirited.

I digress.

I wonder about this often – why, after achieving so much, advancing to ‘middle income status’ do so many of the countries of Latin America suddenly decide on their own self-destruction? Each country, for a brief moment in time able to ignore the collective chip on their shoulders and let their people alone; until they can no longer tolerate the perceived affront. Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, and on we go.


I recall when Michelle Bachelet won the recent presidential election in Chile, she said, “We’ve become a rich country, now we have plenty to redistribute” as if the purpose of individual prosperity was to sacrifice it on the altar of partisan political redistribution.

Chile – I just finished reading Isabel Allende’s “House of the Spirits”. It is a well-written book. A meandering story that tells the tale of the rise and fall of an oligarch family – over several generations. I liked it because it could have been about any country in Latin America. It is to a certain extent the saga of a nation’s coming of age. Of the political and social tides which, over the course of the 20th century brought these countries from ‘feudal’ – protected by powerful overlords who controlled their peasants with a mix of violence and benevolence – through democratic processes which led them to choose the wrong paths. Coups and countercoups. Peasants fighting the oligarchs; oligarchs fighting back.

Idealism and fear.

It is the idealism that comes through. Idealism always favors the communists, doesn’t it? Their utopian political project fits better in poems and songs. Never mind it doesn’t work; can’t work. We have to try, don’t we? It’s about social justice.

Allende’s novel was a little boring, but finished strong with the conflict; the true point of the story. A fictionalized account of the coup against Salvador Allende – Isabel’s uncle. An excoriating account of the terrible brutality, violence and inhumanity of the coupsters. And the valiant fight of the social justice warriors to stand against the American-supplied war machine.

Never mind that Salvador – product of yet another of Chile’s pubescent moments – was destroying Chile, just as Chavez destroyed Venezuela. Never mind that Fidel Castro set up residence in Valparaiso, the parasite who intuitively smells fresh blood to suck and moves in quickly to latch on. Never mind that it was to become a soviet satellite state. Never mind that – like communism always does – Allende was going to starve his people. Never mind any of that; the story is a one-sided hymn to stupidity.


Now, I am not making common cause with Pinochet or his brutal coup. Anybody who knows anything about me knows that charge – at least – will not stick. The story of Chile, like the story of other Latin American countries, is of a coming of age that went bad – leading to the adolescent estrangement of the idealistic who refuse to accept how the world works, and in their rebellion hand their fates over time-and-again to those who would only oppress them.

Cue Colombia. Today the FARC, communist terrorists, will most likely see their fates dramatically improved. They can move from their caves in the forest into Cuban-and-Venezuelan funded housing in Bogota, bring on assessors like PODEMOS in Spain – like Chavez did – and begin the process of inflaming the passions of Latin America’s perpetual adolescents against Colombia’s ruling oligarchs. And it will work for them – because it has always worked.

***Morning after clarification, I’ve never been happier in my life to have been wrong!

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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