Gustavo Petro won in Colombia, and anyone who sees that victory as yet another sign of Latin America’s turn to the left, a turn that will make the continent’s societies more supportive and independent of the insatiable ways of the empire of the North, less unequal. On the other hand was Rodolfo Hernández, a businessman who looked like a caricature of the most vulgar and dangerous Trumpism, without any project, clinging to a few anti-elite and anti-corruption slogans (period) and with that folksy vibe of “The I’ll fix it with a few” (and period). Petro’s triumph is therefore good news, it opens a period of hope, it comes with the idea of deepening the peace process, it brings Francia Márquez as vice-president who knows what it means to be part of “the nobodies”. a plan to make the fight against climate change the axis of its economic policy has spoken of social democracy and of not perpetuating itself in power with insidious maneuvers. Though it also had, oops, that bright changing story catchphrase.
Far from the noise of a long campaign that has revealed the guts of a fractured and polarized society, it is time to work to sew up the seams of this Colombia torn by violence and poverty. That’s what Petro will have to do, he said so himself, and it’s within that framework that the high beams have to be installed, not just to the front, but to the rear as well. For this last task nothing like the recent book by Carlos Granés, american rave, that allows us to lay the recent history of the continent on the couch and ask about its ghosts and obsessions, thus making a diagnosis that allows us to heal the suffering of broken societies, caused by the robberies of strangers and their own were crushed. What Granés often talks about is this Latin American penchant for excess, this lust for ecstasy and addiction to megalomaniacal dreams, this belief that revolution will turn the wasteland into paradise: getting drunk on the high-sounding words and disconnected from the facts and concrete realities. And that leads nowhere.
In one of the final chapters of his book, Granés speaks of the delirium of arrogance that exudes from Latin American victimhood. Often neither “emancipation nor autonomy” was wanted, and everything was staked on these “adamic and dramatic acts that change everything, change nothing”. “That was the problem,” he writes, “to want the pure, to want what does not exist; in redemption from injustice and pain through the pursuit of the impossible: the return to the indigenous past, the annulment of the colony, the end of globalization, the collapse of capitalism, a world without the United States, national purity, primitive Christianity, the nobility of the noble savage, the existence of Abya Yala, the annihilation of the white man”. Beacons that kindle that heart with which, as Eva Perón said, “you learn more than with intelligence”. But that is not true: so much sentimentality has only led to giving in to the slogans of those leaders who have done so much damage to Latin America. It’s now in Petro’s hands to put the breakouts in the fridge and rule for everyone. And escape purity like the plague.
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