Petro’s Dilemma

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Everything was very civilized. Very Colombian. Very polite. President Iván Duque, whom history will acquit because he has not put a peso in his pocket, called him, congratulated him and offered to meet with him. Álvaro Uribe said something that honors him. It was his first reaction to Petro’s victory on Sunday, June 19, “To defend democracy, it is necessary to abide by it. Gustavo Petro is the president.”

Gustavo Petro, on the other hand, thanked the “young people” and “the oppressed minorities.” Regarding the first ones, he is right. His victory cannot be explained without the young people who gave him their first vote at 18, 19, 20 or 21 years of age, helped by the lack of historical memory, considering that the assault of the Palace of Justice occurred in ancient, almost biblical, times, in 1985. As for the “oppressed minorities,” it is not known exactly to whom he refers. He will have to explain it.

He also has to explain the gibberish he has expressed by saying that he is going to invent “capitalism and democracy.” With all the deficiencies that exist in Colombia’s economic gear, if there are private companies, and these are ruled by the market, as we can see it happens in the nation, then there is capitalism. At the same time, how could he have come to power if the universally respected democratic model did not exist?

Daniel Raisbeck is a liberal thinker from The Cato Institute. He said that Petro is part of the usual political “establishment”, albeit with the additions of “left-wing academics, progressive journalists or influencers, public sector parasites and career politicians, according to the gelatinous ideology that unites these subgroups, an ideology that promotes a heavily intervened national economy, which ranks 92nd in the Frazier Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom.”

The top 30 spots are known to be the usual suspects. The best organized countries, the most prosperous, those that always have a flood of immigrants knocking on their doors: the Scandinavians (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland), the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the United States, Canada, France and Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Portugal and, most recently, to show that birds of a feather flock together, the Czech Republic or Czechia.

The next 30, those that remain from the European Union, plus the rich Arab nations – Qatar, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia – and some Caribbean islands, such as the Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic. Or like Martinique, Puerto Rico and Curaçao, which are free, but not sovereign. And also, some Asian countries (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea). There is a very clear link between freedom and prosperity. That is perfectly transparent in the Frazier Index or the Heritage Index. Both are worth examining.

In general, these indices take into account several categories: The Rule of Law (the existence of property rights, the respectability of the courts, and the decency and honesty of governments). The size of the government (measured by the percentage of taxes, the intensity of public spending, and fiscal habits). Regulatory freedom (freedom to do business, freedom to work, and freedom to exchange). The true opening of markets (really free trade, freedom to invest and financial freedom).

The problem that Petro – and anyone who governs – will face is that if he chooses the market, capitalism and democracy (as he has promised), there is no doubt that he has selected the best option according to human nature, but that has a cost in difference of income, in social imbalances and in a different way of understanding life.

On the other side of the phenomenon, if he chooses to control the nature of human beings, he will be substituting democracy for autocracy and will give rise to a flatter, grayer world. Believe me, Mr. Petro, I come from a society that sacrificed freedom to achieve equality. In the end they only achieved cynicism and misery.

Published in elblogdemontaner.com Saturday June 25, 2022.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.