No US politics today. I want to share with you some politics from the country in which I have lived the last twenty years. My apologies but for reasons of security, I am going to be a bit cryptic. I won’t mention the name of the country or the name of the current President or the name of their chosen ally from that large island south of Florida. Most of you know where I live and for those who don’t, let it suffice that I live way south of the border. My wife would kill me if she knew I was writing this post. The reason for her concern is that some years back our president here bought a satellite from China on credit (to be paid for with barrels of oil) which is now parked over the country. Prez told his people that the purpose of the satellite was to provide better communications and television throughout the country. No one was fooled. The control center is in a small town in the center of the country and is staffed by people from that big island south of Florida. So, that is why I am trying to avoid what I think are the key words that they watch for and record.
The current president has been reelected several times and new elections will occur this Sunday.
It is important that you understand that here, like most countries in this part of the world, all the political parties are, from your understanding of the political spectrum, to the left of center. Some are much more to the left than others. By that I do not mean that they are all anti-capitalism, but they are all in favor of big central governments and big social programs. The reason for that is a long story of common history.
The current president in 1994 was a military officer and led a large group of the military in an attempt tp over through the government. A lot of people died, but the coup failed and he spent four years in prison. In 1998, the then president gave this man a full pardon. The rumor, which I have never been able to verify, is that the then president was his godfather. Because of his pardon, he was able to form a new political party and run for president democratically. The name of that party has changed several times and didn’t have the word “socialist” in it until about eight years ago. The man , a narcissist, is a charismatic orator. (Sound familiar?) He promised everything and won the election with 70% of the vote. Yes, that means a lot of upper middle-class and rich voted for him, as well.
The Arrogant Opposition
Shortly after taking office, the new president began referring to his election as the “people’s revolution” and it became clear where he wanted to lead the country. He began giving the poor some enemies to hate and to blame for their condition in life; the rich and the white. (Sound familiar?) The old guard, the opposition, quickly began organizing protest marches that attracted hundreds of thousands of people. The president used the national guard to put down thee protests but they didn’t quit. They were supported by all the major television networks. In 2002, the opposition in one great protest march in the capitol, managed, with the help of some top military brass, to force the president from office with the claim that he resigned. Several people died in that day. Gut, one General, saw what had happened as unconstitutional, which it was, and sent his troops with heliocopters to reinstall the president. The repression of the “capitalist” system got much worse. The arrogant opposition included the management of the State’s world-class oil company. They called a strike to force the president to rectify. He fired 2000 of them and replaced with his loyal followers. You can imagine how that has worked out. The arrogant opposition manged to get enough signatures to force a recall election which they lost big time. Although the signatures were supposed to be kept secret by the Election Commission, the president’s party got a hold of the list and all of those four million people were black-balled from working for any state entity or any contractor that serviced those state entities. Then the arrogant opposition did the most stupid thing you can imagine. They decided to boycott the elections for members of the Chamber of Deputies. They put up no candidates. Their thinking was that the outside world would see this government as an illegal rogue government and put unbearable pressure on the regime to change its ways. The result was four years of a rubber Stamp Chamber of Deputies during which many bad laws were passed giving the president inordinate powers and the constitution was modified such that all public offices would be for six-year terms instead of four and they could now be reelected indefinitely.
Over the last many years, the county’s economy has been destroyed by expropriations and land redistribution. nearly all foreign companies have left the country. We have had strict foreign exchange controls and price controls The local currency has been fixed for several years at 4.3 to the dollar and, of course there is a scarcity of hard currency, dollars. The black market exchange rate is over 12 to 1 and the implicit exchange rate ( dividing the national reserves into the number of local currency units in circulation) is over 22 to the dollar. Where once this county produced 75% of the food consumed here, now 85% of the food consumed must be imported and subsidized and sold in government controlled popular markets. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
So, in two days we have new presidential elections. Outsiders would assume that the people here would have had enough of this regime and would vote for a change. The opposition seems to have learned their lesson. There are about eight opposition parties and they have unified behind one candidate. He is a good man. He was a popular mayor of a large municipality in the region of the capitol and is currently the popular governor of the state where the capitol is located. If you were to judge by the crowds that turn out at the political rallies, you would think he will win easily. Yet, thee president is still ahead in the polls, although the gap is closing. It is not that the poor people who have supported this president are stupid. They see what has happened and they complain bitterly. But, the vast majority of them do not blame the president. They blame the corrupt people around him. Also, it must be noted that this president has in fact done more for the poor than any previous president.
The president and his party are worried that they may lose this election. He and his surrogates nave been agitating the people to go into the streets and defend “THEIR” revolution if things turn out bad on Sunday.
My family and I will have our fingers crossed and our heads down for the next few days. If things turn ugly, I may have more to say on Monday. Otherwise I will stick to American politics.
Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?