The clear election of Javier Milei as president of Argentina leaves us with two important lessons. The first is the rejection of Kirchnerism by a large majority of Argentines. Despite their democratic rhetoric, the “K governments” have been allies of those who deny human rights violations in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. They have been an important part of networks such as the Puebla Group, which, with spokespersons such as the former presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales and Ecuador, Rafael Correa, endorse authoritarian practices, undermine democracy and give oxygen to dictators through their public statements. The second lesson is the need to build majorities in favor of freedom and democracy from the political center. The success of the new Argentine government will depend on the ability of the center-right to bring governance and good sense to the incoming administration.
The need for good sense
In a continent where the electoral pendulum often swings between maximalist positions on both sides of the political spectrum, there is a great need for sensible and democratic voices capable of developing long term political projects, giving direction to responsible governments, and fulfilling their promises and the yearnings of the Latin American population. Bolivarian socialism promises easy solutions and ends up disappointing the hopes of millions of Latin Americans. A soccer stadium full of people shouting “Fuera Petro!” at Colombia’s recent game against Brazil in Barranquilla, dramatized this disappointment in a very dramatic way.
In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador not only seeks closeness with the region’s dictators. He also pursues an authoritarian agenda of systematically dismantling state bodies such as the National Electoral Institute or the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. It is only thanks to the joint work of historically opposing parties that we have been able to stop some aspects of his anti-democratic agenda.
Moreover, thanks to this cooperation and the exceptional leadership of Senator Xóchitl Gálvez, next June 2024 we have a real opportunity to deliver another defeat to Bolivarian socialism and the authoritarian leftist international networks that have done us so much harm. To achieve this, we will need the eyes of the international community on this electoral process. As has happened with many governments of this line, it is likely that AMLO and his party will not easily recognize a possible defeat.
Free America Forum
The Mexican example shows us that only united we can win. This experience is very important for all lovers of freedom and democracy in Latin America. In this sense, a hope was recently born, the “Free America Forum”. It took place at the end of October 2023. We convened political parties, think tanks, political leaders, representatives of civil society and other actors to a celebration of freedom and democracy in Mexico City. More than 30 organizations and participants from 25 countries responded to this call. The Free America Forum seeks to be a new space. Its objective is coordination and dialogue to create a common front from the political center, with clear values and principles. Always on the side of democracy. Always on the side of freedom.
The enormous media attention in the region to our meeting in October showed that many have been waiting for a space like the Free America Forum. On our stage, former presidents shared their experiences. The Vice-President of the Ukrainian Parliament thanked those present for their solidarity in the face of Vladimir Putin’s attack, and the new generation of politicians contributed their enthusiasm for a Free America. Our challenge now is to transform this experience into a permanent space of democratic unity in the face of the threat.
Beyond the diversity of the attendees of the first edition of the Free America Forum, we all united when, in the presence of former presidential candidate and former Nicaraguan politician Felix Maradiaga, we awarded a human rights prize to an empty chair. This chair represented Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, bishop of Matagalpa in Nicaragua, a political prisoner of dictator Daniel Ortega sentenced to more than 26 years in prison. Monsignor’s inhumane fate is shared by many activists in Venezuela and Cuba, countries internationally defended by the Puebla Group and its allies. The politically persecuted need the democrats of the world, and they need us.
*This text was originally published in Diálogo Político.
Translated by Janaína Ruviaro Da Silva from the original in Spanish