Michelangelo — one of the great geniuses of the renaissance — used to think that “the greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” When this happens according to his thinking mankind starts a journey into mediocrity and decay that ends in oblivion.
The thought is today applicable to most Latin American nations whose most recent achievements fell short of “freeing the angel from the marble” — to use yet another quote from the Florentine virtuoso.
Indeed, Chile today is a middle-class society more closely resembling Belgium than a Latin American country. Its Millennial population however does not feel identified with any of its political parties or institutions. Apathy and discontent rule the day in Chilean politics.
In Argentina, President Macri created a movement that achieved the feat of vanquishing the worst strain of Latin American populism after that of Venezuela. But failing to initiate the rebuilding of the institutional framework he now must make concessions to secure reelection.
In Mexico President Pena Nieto was elected riding the tail winds of reform. And reforms he delivered in the fields of education, telecommunications and energy. These policies however necessary and effective have made no mark in the country’s political body because they do not touch the essence of the Mexican challenge which is corruption.
Brazil has effectively fought corruption through a house cleaning process known as Lava Jato that has made history. But failing to restructure its economy by means of truly opening the Brazilian market to FDI and deregulating economic activities, the country has faced the worst recession in history. This state of affairs has led people’s desire to bring Luiz Innacio Lula Da Silva back to Planalto. Needless to note that Mr. Da Silva led the worst corruption demarche on the Brazilian state in the country’s history.
Venezuela perhaps is the region’s basket case in terms of problems and stability challenges. There the government plunges further into totalitarianism while the opposition marches alongside.
Having agreed to a dialogue with the Vatican which ended with the government commitment to allow entry to international aid providers to deliver support to the collapsed health care system, liberate political prisoners and schedule general elections for this year.
Given the lack of fulfillment on these commitments, the opposition should have taken to the streets and the world power couloirs to demand execution of the Vatican brokered agreement. Instead they are trying to revive the dialogue through former President of Spain Rodriguez-Zapatero.
All these instances paint a picture of a continental leadership that falls short in this historic juncture and that concentrates on the trees failing to see the forest and its potential.
They are leading the region into involution.
And as the U.S. concentrates on its domestic agenda, the region seems to lack further incentives to search beyond the narrow horizons of daily challenges to initiate the journey of change and modernity.
The sole exception to this rule seems to be the President of Peru Mr Kuczynski who set himself the goal of “planting the pillars of a truly free society even if this means to reduce my own privileges.” And in so doing, Mr. Kuczynski is promoting bottom-up development, transparency and rule of law. He certainly would have excelled as Michelangelo’s disciple.