“The Citizen’s Revolution moves forward!”
These words, which I have heard countless times enounced passionately on TV, whispered like a prayer or said mockingly in between jokes, now evoke nothing but frustration. When the Citizen’s Revolution began in my home country of Ecuador seven years ago, I was too young to understand what it meant. But today, if our president, Rafael Correa, emerged out of nowhere the way he did in 2006, speaking Quechua (the most widely spoken indigenous language) and promising to change the social reality of Ecuador, I would probably support him. Even though I come from a position of privilege in my country, I am disgusted by the countless inequalities that drive our society. Rigid social classes, racism and lack of opportunities are horrifying, and change is a must. Therefore, in theory, I support socialism and the concept behind the “Citizen’s Revolution” that drives many other so-called revolutions in Latin America.
Why, then, do I become so frustrated when people at Tufts so passionately claim to support these ideas? Because when it comes to Latin American socialism today, there is a world of difference between theory and practice. Supposedly, countries like Venezuela and Ecuador should be flourishing after so many years of social revolution. However, Venezuela is on the brink of becoming a failed state, and Ecuador’s economy is bound to suffer as oil prices continue to fall. If the Citizen’s Revolution has been so successful, why then am I forced to listen to weekly hours-long national broadcasts of Correa insulting and shaming his opponents without giving them the opportunity to respond? And why did his regime feel compelled to arrest and brutally torture 120 high school students for protesting against him? Why have so many journalists been persecuted, and why is every single newspaper in the country terrified of criticizing the president? And why is he changing the constitution that he himself wrote to allow for indefinite presidential reelection without a referendum as is mandated by the law?
It is easy to support socialism in Latin America from Medford, where comforts and liberties abound. It is easy to support so-called brave leaders like Correa, Chavez and Morales who stand up to American imperialism without knowing the price their constituents have had to pay to keep that rhetoric alive. It is easy to support these socialist revolutions when you do not have to fear for the future of your country’s democracy.
I do not mean to suggest that capitalism is necessarily the answer, and I hardly agree with U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and the rest of the world. But I do believe that people need to realize that the socialist regimes that appear to be so fashionable today at Tufts are not all as rosy as many make them out to be and have brought a great deal of tragedies to an already messy region.