What does democracy mean in Latin America?

I would like to share some commentaries about the assumption of lawyer Felipe Calderón, as Constitutionalist Official Mexican President.

Fist of all, we have to ask what “democracy” means in our countries of the so-called Backyard of the United States of America. That term is different in Latin America than in other countries of the also so-called “Free World”. The history of Mexico and other South American countries shows the real meaning of the word. After 400 years of submission under Spanish domination, the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries did not change things at all: on the contrary, the conditions after the independence of our countries just took the real shape they got 400 years before. It was the same submission, but under the hegemony of US and other economical European potencies.

The history of Latin America in the nineteenth century shows this thesis: anarchy, chaos, military regimes from Argentina to Mexico, not to mention Caribbean countries like Haiti and Cuba. So, we’ve got 500 years of living under domination; under military regimes; under the shadow of a greater military country, Spanish or American. With this frame, we could ask: how could “democracy” could be a way of life, after centuries of submission? How come this kind of countries in just 10 years (remember that in the 70’s Latin America was all “coincidentally” under military regimes), from 1990 to nowadays, have gone from tyranny or oligarchy (actually, this terms are synonymous in these countries), to “democracy” just like that? I mean, if this is true (that is, Latin America as a democratic hemisphere), we are testifying a miracle or a false image. I don’t believe in miracles. Now, we are all also “coincidentally” democratic countries?

Take Mexico for example: of a population of 104 million people, just 15 percent of it is able to take superior studies. Sixty percent of Mexican population is not able to read TWO books in one year. The only book that’s able to read is about self-improvement. These are facts, not theories. We have, then, a free country, in the sense of spiritual freedom? Or do we have here a false image created by communication oligopolies like Televisa and other great holdings, which image of Mexico is a country in peace, and with a fruitful future among Nations? Also we have to remember that Mexico is divided into “races” or “kinds” (a division that Mexican people don’t want to remember, but it was used by Calderon’s team in the past elections in order to “win”): 10% of the population is white, blue or green eyes, and more familiarized with American costumes; 80% is half-people, “mestizo”, and 10% is indigenous people. Question: What’s the “race” that governed Mexico 200 hundred years since Mexican Independence Day, but the white people? That’s our history: we will NEVER see an indigenous people owning a bank, a television Channel, or even a small business: that’s property of white people. We’ll NEVER see in Mexico (American tourists know this), a white person working in the laundry or as a sweeper. Indigenous people inside Mexico is like mestizo people in US: they do the jobs Americans don’t; indigenous people do in Mexico jobs that “mestizo” and white people never do.

So we have to ask: what does “democracy” mean with this kind of life, mentality and costumes? What do “elections” mean but the successive manipulation of masses? What does “democracy” mean in a slave country that only knows two regimes of life: slavery or tyranny, “freedom” or “fabulous stories?"

Oscar Jiménez

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov