Two moments in the Americas

Discussion of Mario Vargas Llosa's new book on the rise and fall of Guatemala President Jacobo Arbenz and what it foretells about the return of Evo Morales to Bolivia.
Beatrice E. Rangel

Two moments in the Americas

Beatrice E Rangel

As we close 2019 several developments will mark its waning into oblivion. One comes from the realm of ideas. Mario Vargas Llosa has just launched his latest novel Tiempos Recios (Threatening Times) where he dissects the rise and fall of Jacobo Arbenz,  president of Guatemala from 1951 through 1954.

Vargas Llosa like Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges is endowed with a curious mind and a brilliant and insightful analytic talent. He thus seeks in every piece of the Latin American history to gather clues that explain the region’s political backwardness and economic stalemate as well as the rather rancorous relations with the United States Mr Vargas Llosa seems to trace both limited freedom cum lack of economic progress and non-encounters with the United States to the ill-fated decision by the Eisenhower Administration to support a coup d’ in Guatemala against Arbenz.

Mr Arbenz a well educated former military commander was deepening reform in Guatemala that up to 1944 had been governed through feudal institutions. Feudal Guatemala hampered economic development; social mobility and the creation of aggregate demand which is the lifeblood of a sound capitalist economy. Taxation, agrarian reform and infrastructure modernization were Mr Arbenz agenda. Only agrarian reform brought into the capitalist economy 500,000 destitute farmers mostly from indigenous origin.

But this agenda was not welcomed by the United Fruit Company that had never paid taxes in Guatemala and had no plans to do so. According to Mr Vargas Llosa the very first recorded fake news operation in our hemisphere was created and deployed with United Fruit financing. The objective being to portray Arbenz as a communist. The Eisenhower Administration bit the bait and with the support of the CIA and the Department of State Mr Arbenz was deposed.

Carlos Castillo Armas a military officer who has opposed among other things to universal vote and direct election of government officers took the reigns of power in Guatemala backed by the United Fruit and the United States.

Mr Vargas  Llosa believes that episode sealed the future of inter American relations . Reform became the wrong path to development and relations with the US were bound to be distant and hypocritical as  most of the political establishment inn Latin America was conscious of the need for reform.

Flash forward to 1960. Mr Castro debuts in Latin American politics and creates a narrative that incentivizes political leaders in Latin America to desist of the Arbenz way to embrace his blood tinted approach to seizing power and enacting reform. 60 years thereafter the narrative seems to have withstood every US attempt to destroy it.

Next development has taken place in Bolivia. While the US embroils in its presidential campaign with an impeachment process looming in the air, the Bolivian people is fighting to reinstate freedom. The people have forced Evo Morales resignation when he clearly tampered with popular will after masterminding an electoral fraud that would have given him yet another term in office. The people have pressured politicians to initiate a transition towards democracy. But the people alone could well be defeated by a realigned political force backing Evo Morales. And realignment seems to be happening.

Mr Lopez Obrador welcomed Mr Morales as a head of state in Mexico and began the come back home campaign . First by labeling Bolivian developments as a coup d’état, Mr Lopez Obrador released the first bit of fake news that will with time build a narrative that victimizes Morales. . Then by launching the newest and more agile version of the Sao Paulo Coalition opportunely labelled the Puebla Coalition. The newly elected government of Argentina which is sponsored by Cristina Kirchner promptly jumped into the Puebla Coalition.

Next, Mr Morales is at the time this article is being written flying to Havana. There strategy sessions will take place before Mr Morales jumps into a plane with Mr Raul Castro to attend the inaugural proceedings of Alberto Fernandez in Argentina. Most probably Mr Morles will stay and become a political refugee in Argentina. And from Argentina the destabilization of any government that does not play into Mr Morales ambitions will start with full support of the Fernandez Administration .

Meanwhile the US and the rest of the hemispheric community will most probably miss the plot and cry wolf when freedom is safely imprisoned once again by Mr Morales in a reenactment of April 2002 in Venezuela,

Published by on Monday, December 9th, 2019

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

Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O’Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.