“Cruzazulear” means to blow it, to lose what was nearly won, to wrench defeat from the clutches of victory. It means to turn an almost certain triumph into a humiliating failure, again and again and again.
The term emerged from the Mexican team Cruz Azul, which has not obtained a League title for more than 20 years, and during this time has accumulated a series of defeats that border on the grotesque. The most recent of these occurred on December 6th: Cruz Azul reached the second leg of the semifinals with a 4 goal advantage over Pumas, and they had already a foot and a half in the final. Well, once again they cruzazulearon, lost 4-0 and were eliminated.
There are several anecdotes like that, among them the 2003 playoff match, when Cruz Azul had a 4-goal lead over Chivas, and lost; or the 2013 final, when they lost against America despite having a comfortable 2-goal lead at the 88th minute of the match. They did it again.
During the last few years, this concept has become so well known in Mexico, and even in other countries, that a couple of months ago the Real Academia Española (RAE) included the verb “cruzazulear” as part of its Observatorio de Palabras”, while the Mexican Academy of the Spanish Language publicly defines it as “the action of losing a game after having victory practically assured”.
Latin America is like Cruz Azul
Beyond this pathetic sports anecdote, the vocation to cruzazulear is shared by many Latin American countries, those that are on the verge of the first world, very close to reaching full development, and that at the key moment return to the old vices of authoritarianism, socialist populism and demagogy that once again plunges them into the poverty they curse.
There are plenty of examples. Perhaps the clearest is that of Argentina, a country that became one of the most prosperous in the world at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century turning into a land of opportunity for thousands of European immigrants. The Argentines had everything to consolidate themselves as the great South American power and as a success story similar to the one we see, for example, in New Zealand.
However, then they cruzazulearon. Peronism marked the beginning of a long decline of the Argentine nation, including dictatorships, economic crises, corralitos [bank limits on withdrawals and forced exchanges] and missteps that even today move the country between Macri’s mediocre technocracy and the leftist whims of Fernández and Kirchner. In the middle of 2020, the government intends to close down businesses that do not respect “maximum-price” laws, while it fights and pleads with the International Monetary Fund, and, in general, seems to have gotten stuck in the 1970s, while Brazil continues to take more and more economic space away as it asserts its leadership in South America.
In Chile, after the disastrous Salvador Allende and the erratic first moments of Pinochet, free-market reforms positioned this nation as one of the hopes for Latin American success. This remained the case when, after the return to democracy, the Concertación governments understood that (beyond Pinochet’s shortcomings) these reforms were valuable. The country continued to grow and moved closer to the gates of the first world. Then they also cruzazulearon.
The radical left took advantage of the chronic mediocrity of Piñera’s government to destroy half of the capital city and to promote a process of constitutional renewal that all but guarantees that the country will return to the vices of Latin American demagogy.
Mexico, after several decades of dependence on oil, eventually understood that the future lay in integrating itself to the global economy with something more than raw materials, and in a couple of decades it managed to modernize its industry and become the first big Latin American country that did not depend on raw materials for its exports. In the meantime, they also built an institutional platform to curb the authoritarian excess of the past and even managed to remove the legal and mental anchors that had tied the country to a nefarious energy monopoly. And then they too cruzazulearon.
Mexicans elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador so that he would essentially return the country to the old ways of the PRI era: absolute presidentialism, sovereignist demagogy, the foolish bet on oil, the destruction of institutions and the submission of technical arguments to political whim.
Let’s not even talk about Venezuela and its lost opportunities, which came long before Chavism, or Colombia, where a supposed peace agreement became the political triumph of a guerilla that should have been completely defeated.
Let’s not cruzazulear anymore
Something is wrong with us in Latin America. When it seems that we are ready to stop being the same old kids, society and/or politicians decide that we should go back, that we’d better stay as we are, even if we complain about how bad we are.
We cruzazuleamos, because instead of understanding that the processes of modernization of our countries has failiures, which must be corrected, we choose to condemn them outright and destroy them completely, clinging to the hope of a socialist model and a mythological revenge that does not work and never will.
It is as simple as that: of all Latin American tragedies, the mania of cruzazulear is the worst.