Editorials: The end of paradigms; and Red Tide in Red Square

JC and Nicky
He can say what he wants. Two witnesses in positions to know, including his erstwhile right-hand man say that Juan Carlos Varela took millions from Odebrecht. Much like the Chavista former attorney general of Venezuela says that Nicolás Maduro did. The collapse of Latin America’s old political paradigms is not just a left or right phenomenon. Archive photo by the Venezuelan government.

Paradigms coming to an end?

The post-Cold War promise of globalization that would deliver prosperity for all was not kept in the Latin America of the 1990s. After that “lost decade” came the “Pink Tide””of leftist governments in many countries, which coincided with globalization that worked spectacularly for China and led to a demand for Latin American raw materials that boosted the economies of this region for a time. But then the failure of neoliberalism — globalization on corporate terms — to deliver prosperity to the working and middle classes of the developed world, and then the bursting of various financial and real estate bubbles that were presented as proof that the corporate model delivers for the West, slowed the Chinese growth model. That meant fewer orders for raw materials from Latin America, a stripping away of veneers that had covered our region’s chronic problems for a while, and now a series of revelations about just how sleazy the people pulling the strings have tended to be.

Yes, Washington has ugly double standards. Yes, in many Latin American countries entrenched oligarchies or party machines have ensured or tried to ensure impunity for themselves along with deserved or contrived legal problems for their opponents. But there is a generalized breakdown of Latin American political paradigms underway and anyone who thinks it can be controlled from outside the region is thinking wishfully.

This breakdown could lead us back into an era of violence and dictatorship, but perhaps might lead us to some new, better understandings. The threat and the opportunity exist alongside one another.

A better understanding? Left and right, in all of the region’s cultures and governmental systems, that better understanding would be a perfected democracy in which campaigns financed by private donations becomes a horror of the past.


Red Tide, soon to visit Red Square

Oye, muchachos de la Marea Roja: one shot of vodka — the real stuff, Stolichnaya, not a US imitation — and a little less than a shot of Kahlúa. Perhaps as a patriotic national project we might develop a suitable Panamanian coffee liqueur to substitute for the Mexican standard, but for now it has to be Kahlúa to be a proper Black Russian. Consume in moderation.

Controversial phantom goal and all that notwithstanding, congratulations to Panama’s men’s national soccer team, and good luck in Russia. The Red Tide is worthy, and let it be shown in Russia that Panama is no fluke.


Bear in mind…


I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.

John Cage


The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker


Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.

Arthur C. Clarke


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