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The history of Marxist subversion in the Western Hemisphere began as early as 1919. The Bolshevik coup d’État in Russia signified the beginning of a global communist war for political power. Despite successes of the Communist International (Comintern) and Soviet intelligence in destabilizing democratic regimes across the Americas — including penetrating institutions as important as that of various American presidential administrations — victories in the Western Hemisphere were scarce for the most part. The Castro-Communist revolution bolstered socialist expansionism in an unprecedented way after 1959. Ironically, it wasn’t until the fall of Soviet communism — thirty-two years later — that socialist despotism began to really blossom in Latin America.
1959 to 1990: Failed Communist Insurgencies
From 1959 to 1990, despite one of the most comprehensive campaigns of communist insurgencies carried out in any part of the world, both rural and urban, the result of communism’s war against the existing order was a blatant failure. No country in Latin America was spared the Marxist onslaught. Yet not a socialist dictatorship was in power (except in Cuba) when Soviet communism fell. The reasons for freedom’s success in defeating Marxist attempts at overthrowing governments or in rolling back socialist regimes that reached power (Dominican Republic, Chile, Jamaica, Grenada, Nicaragua) were clear. The public forces, including the military, police, and intelligence (domestic and foreign), did a superb job in preventing the formation of and/or uprooting communist dictatorships. Another important factor was a well-seasoned moral and ideological crusade to thwart socialist propaganda throughout those three decades.
Communism and its Mutations
The fall of the Berlin Wall caused the mutation of communism. Asian communism, that concoction of a Leninist state with a mixed economy and practiced in China and Vietnam, was solidified in the Tiananmen Square massacre of that same year. The post-Soviet Russian regime resulted in a kleptocracy. It used “privatization” schemes to empower former communist and intelligence officers to establish a dictatorship that many refer to today as Putinism. Cultural Marxism, a modern adaptation of Marxist praxis which removed economics and replaced it with culture as a primary determinant in mass consciousness-building and revolution confection (violent or non-violent), has been the post-1989 path to power in established Western democracies. A fourth model, wholly relevant in Latin America, was established at the São Paulo Forum (SPF) in 1990.
Unable to access the bountiful resources of the Soviet Union to finance communist belligerent wars any longer, the Castro regime was determined to rescue socialism in Latin America and continue its promotion. The extinct Cuban tyrant recalibrated strategy and developed a dictatorial prototype that could adapt to the circumstances. This required a methodological makeover. Insurgencies would now be carried out by way of mass protests and riots, labor strikes, transportation, and public services interruptions, and other violent modes of societal discourse, all channeled to produce crises. The Marxist insurgents, following the SPF power model, were to compete in competitive elections as “democrats.” If or when they won, a systemic deconstruction process was to begin. This was the 21st-century version of a socialist revolution.
The São Paulo Forum in Practice: Chile
Constitutional revisionism, castrating the judicial branch, fusing the legislative with the executive, stifling the media, and converting businessmen into regime courtesans was the general blueprint. The most important tactical element in the SPF autocratic game plan was to, either co-opt or defenestrate, the armed forces. There was a logic to this. The prelude to the SPF mechanism was first experimented with in Chile, in 1973.
Salvador Allende followed the same furtive path to socialism that Castro’s 1990 scheme called for. It turned out, however, that the military leader the Chilean Marxist placed as head of the armed forces, General Augusto Pinochet, frustrated the Chilean communization project, instead of upholding it. Cuban communism did not want to repeat this mishap and stressed the prioritization of this strategy with the military (co-opt or defenestrate), in its SPF blueprint.
In sharp contrast to the pre-SPF formula, since 1990, fourteen nations have fallen to socialism in Latin America (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, México, Perú, Chile, Colombia). Six reversed course (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras) and two of these returned to the prior SPF power hold status (Argentina, Honduras). The principal factor that contributed to most of those countries that were able to liberate themselves was the military’s ability to maintain its integrity (Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay). Argentina’s case was due to the cannibalistic nature of the Peronist factions that cohabit public institutions and the urban/rural political divide.
The Future of Latin America
Colombia now has a communist president. Petro was among the first Marxist insurgents to heed Castro’s call to adopt the post-Soviet methodology. The success of the SPF model, lies not in the brilliance of the communists, but in the stupidity of the continental democrats. They continue to believe in these disguised terrorists and have failed to elaborate an effective policy to challenge this new variant of socialist subversion. For now, it will depend on the success of the Colombian military to resist the attempt to neutralize its capacity to defend the country. They are now the praetorian guardians of liberty.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.