May 20, 2013
The Miami ‘Non Sensus’
By Cubargie Joe
(José Manuel Pallí)
LATINOS R US
The Washington Consensus seems to be dead
Miami is a delightful place to live, with loads of fun to be had and interesting people to interact with. But if you grade it in terms of its contribution to political science, you end up with the equivalent of a junk-bond rating.
The recent elections in Ecuador resulted in a clear and resounding victory for President Rafael Correa. Correa has repeatedly talked of his intention to retire from politics after serving out the period for which he was just re-elected; he even wants to move to Belgium where his wife was born. The election apparently resulted in his party obtaining a sufficient number of seats in the Ecuadorean legislature — including the six seats reserved for (or to be decided by) Ecuadoreans living abroad — to easily approve the kind of measures that will propel his Revo-lución Ciudadana and even to push for a constitutional reform. Correa has said there are more important things to reform than the limit on the times a president can be re-elected, reiterating that, even if the Ecuadorean people want to change or erase that limit and they effect that change, he will not run again, unless the opposition forces his hand.
This is, more or less, the way the recent election in Ecuador is understood and described almost everywhere, including in Ecuador, where the candidate who finished in second place has acknowledged Correa’s triumph.
But not here in Miami, the “exile capital” of the world — now expanding beyond Cuban exiles to embrace Venezuelans and other nationalities. In Miami, many of my neighbours see the Ecuadorean election as irrefutable proof of the evil lurking under the democratic ways that, for quite a few years now, have taken hold of our western hemisphere.
This is what I have heard and read in Miami about Correa’s re-election:
— Correa stole the election, apparently by fudging and playing with the abstentions numbers, which were way higher than he admits.
He even managed to steal the elections held at Ecuadorean consulates all over the world, except in Miami, where the election was very close because most Ecuadoreans here are true “Anti-Correa” exiles — whereas most Ecuadoreans living abroad are simply expatriates, people who are not “anti-anything.”
— Correa will change the Cons-titution and go for his “re-re-election.”
Quite a few Miamians seem to think that President Obama will do the same.
Of course, we in Miami have heard all this before:
When? After every single election in our hemisphere where Miamians see the forces of darkness succeed against the faithful followers of Von Hayek, Rand, Reagan, Thatcher and the Washington Consensus.
Why? Because we cannot understand how “people like us” — la Gente Como Uno (or GCU), the social category made famous by Landrú years ago — can falter in political contests when they champion “ideas like ours.”
Our favourite candidates are always people like Elisa Carrió in Argentina, María Corina Machado in Venezuela, or Lucio Gutiérrez in Ecuador, all apparently incapable of winning over five percent of the vote in their respective countries today. But they would win hands down in Miami, and I can see why: I like María Corina too.
And instead of wondering how we can strategize in order to better sell those great ideas of ours — to even think of adjusting them would amount to unprincipled anathema — to those who foolishly “refuse” to be, or at least vote like GCU, we are ever more resolved to ignore them and exclude them, as Mitt Romney did not too long ago.
Even Romney played the sore loser by claiming Obama “bought” his second term, while a chorus of Miami-based “experts” persistently cry foul at certain “new” electoral practices while conveniently forgetting the prevalence of similar practices in Latin America’s past .
The Washington Consensus is dead, even in Washington, but not in Miami. One of our Academic Institutions recently hosted a panel which addressed “the morality of capitalism and Ayn Rand”, reminding us all of the need to preserve the tenets of market fundamentalism by strengthening the influence of market forces while constraining and reducing to a minimum the key functions of the government. It is as if they had spent the past five years napping, like Rip Van Winkle, and missed all the action, borrowing a page from the Washington-based institutions that once endorsed the Washington Consensus and were caught asleep at the wheel when the financial crisis of biblical and worldwide proportions (a crisis that is still unresolved) hit us back in 2008. Could it be the effect of that sleep-inducing-tea they are addicted to?
Or maybe it is just that this is Miami. When general Pinochet was held down in England by the arm of “Garzonian” justice (Editor: former Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón), I was surprised by the size of the crowd the organizers of a rally to support the general (a desagravio) managed to get on the street. Not even in Santiago could you match this…
Back then the motto of the campaign to bring more tourists to South Florida was: “The rules are different here...”
You bet they are.
José Manuel Pallí is a Cuban-born lawyer, originally trained in Argentina and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1985.