Ivan Duque, Sebastian Piñera, Guillermo Lasso Y Luis Lacalle Pou advocated this Friday to face the populist wave in Latin America with liberal facts and pedagogy. The presidents of Colombia, Chile, Ecuador Y Uruguay, respectively, during an online debate within the XIV Atlantic Forum, which with the title of ‘Iberoamerica: democracy and freedom in tough times’ organized at the Casa de América in Madrid the International Foundation for Freedom, chaired by the Peruvian Nobel Prize for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, and in which the former Argentine president also participated Mauricio Macri
Duque, who said that he remained with “the state of mind always firm and committed” to his country after the recent attack on the helicopter in which he was traveling, said that “the answer to that populism is to act with forceful and incontrovertible facts.” In the case of Colombia, where he has governed since 2018, he highlighted among other achievements having carried out the largest budget in education Y Health, and the realization of more kilometers of road, as well as the fact that, even during the pandemic, “stagnant sectors” have become more dynamic, registering “the highest sales of social and non-social housing, the expansion of non-conventional renewable energies and the explosion in investment in science and technology ”. «This is how demagoguery is faced, with facts. Demagoguery is effective in rhetoric, “he stressed.
The Colombian president pointed out that after his electoral victory three years ago with a campaign based on defending the principles of freedom, democracy, law and order, “those who had been defeated already said that they were going to be in the streets seeking destabilization.” In addition, he warned that “populism is conniving with criminality and seeks to fracture society.”
Against this, he explained, one must “govern by virtue of producing results” and “build equity in a sustainable way”, since “demagogues offer bread for today and hunger for tomorrow.” “If someone wants to know what we mean by the disaster of populism in Latin America, just look at what has happened in Venezuela,” he said.
The Chilean Sebastián Piñera recalled that “freedom has always been in danger in the history of humanity” and that “Latin America has been much longer without freedom and democracy than with them”, at the same time encouraged to always defend it, because “when One is suffocating, one misses the air, but it is too late.
Piñera, who in recent years has had to face the violent riots in Chile and a political crisis that has led to a constitutional process, stressed the need for sustainable progress, since “the demagogue promises paradise on Earth and rights without duties”, while “the pedagogue promises progress, but with effort and responsibility ». “Between the invisible hand of Smith and the visible hand of the demagogue, sometimes the people are wrong and Latin America has been too wrong,” lamented the president of Chile, who spoke of a “populist pandemic.”
“Our task is to be convincing pedagogues that the path is freedom and the rule of law, and sustainable growth.”
For his part, Guillermo Lasso, referring to the title of the forum, asked himself “what time hasn’t it been tough in Latin America?” The Ecuadorian president recalled the wars, guerrillas, dictatorships, electoral fraud, etc., to ensure that “toughness is not the exception, but the norm.”
Speaking from the experience of what he called “fourteen years of populist doses,” he acknowledged that populists have known how to exploit a national narrative, while “liberal ideas have not served as a unifying principle.” For this reason, he advocated “treating liberal ideas from the trenches of causes and the ordinary life of citizens” and demonstrating that “freedom can and has the capacity to respond to these concerns”, although it is, he admitted, “a great challenge”.
The Ecuadorian president presented some of the measures that he has promoted in his first 100 days in office, such as the opening of the oil sector to private companies and the reinforcement of security in the country against drug trafficking and terrorism, in addition to decisions related to Covid, such as the vaccination massive and the reopening of the economy.
Luis Lacalle Pou made a closed defense of freedom, which “is very expensive for Uruguayans,” he stressed. In March 2020, political leaders and unions called for confinement or ‘lockdown’, and sometimes there is “a false dichotomy” between individual and collective freedom. “Man is a social being par excellence.”
Likewise, he insisted on his idea that “Mercosur move faster” to take advantage of the “privileged situation” of the region to which its members belong, a large part of the countries of South America.