Despite of the overused cliché “2018 is crucial for Latin America”—all years are—, it is necessary to remember that, in the next twelve months, it will take place seven presidential replacements which can affect in a significant way the political—and economic—future of the region.
Following a chronological order, the democratic nations in which there will be presidential replacements, along with the inauguration of Sebastián Piñera in Chile (11th March), are Costa Rica (4th February and 1st April); Paraguay (22nd April); Colombia (27th May and 17th June, with legislative elections on 11th March); Brazil (7th and 28th October) and Mexico (1st July). To this we must add the show—meaning by show simulation or hypocrite act— organized by Castrism to perpetuate itself in Cuba, and the uncertainty regarding the future of Venezuelan autocracy which aims at following the model of the Caribbean dictatorship in which it is inspired. The latest turn of the screw of Chavism is the call for presidential elections made by the illegitimate Constituent Assembly to be held next 30th of April, in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and with almost all the opposition disqualified by the regime.
Despite of the different circumstances affecting the five democratic nations holding presidential elections, in all of them there are populist candidates, which by criticizing the party system and liberal democracy, aim to dismantle democracy benefiting from citizens frustration, which in the ballot boxes is translated as an antisystem vote. It is obvious that issues such as the failure in combating corruption in Brazil, the difficulty to present good results in the hard battle taken against insecurity and drug trafficking in Mexico, or the more than doubtful balance of the negotiations between the government and the terrorist forces in Colombia, have led citizens to distrust the leaders they have previously elected hoping they could solve those serious problems.
In a geographical and historic context in which populism usually takes advantage from its electoral victories to change the game rules and dismantle the rule of law—as examples Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador or Ecuador—, the results of these elections should worry and draw the attention of western countries, and in a more special way of its Latin-American neighbors, Spain and the United States, the ones more affected by the imbalances of all type that the victory of populism could mean.
Special mention, but not least important, deserve the potential replacements in the Cuban and Venezuelan dictatorships. In the month of April, it will be held the festivities to honor Fidel Castro arrival to power and it will serve to replace Raúl Castro by someone with a similar dogmatism—probably Miguel Díaz Canel—. The festivities will take place in an ambience of reaffirmation of the regime, in the presence of the affective and political distance of the foreign guests towards the scarcity of the Cuban people, acting as extras of a performance that should scandalized every democrat. The Cuban communist regime will celebrate its continuity, it will celebrate the resignation of the European Union to place the respect to human rights in the place it should be, and will celebrate, in short, the exhaustion of a dissidence that, inside the island and in the exile, crash against the wall seventy years, a wall of repression inside and of indifference outside.
And the same can be expected from the presidential election in Venezuela, where the corruption of Chavism and the cruelty against its own people seem not having limits. Venezuela is already the biggest failure of communism in the XXI Century, and it is the reality form which we should not take our look away. Venezuela bleeding to death each day thanks to Chavism, two million people in exile, thousands of murdered people on the streets, the hundreds of detainees, the lack of normal medicines in pharmacies and hospitals, and the empty shelves in the stores of the once prosperous Venezuelan nation are the best example to take into account by which, in Latin America or in other parts of the world, in 2018 or the next year, we still have the fortune to be able to choose, with our vote, a better future.
Translated by María Maseda Varela