What would Carlos Alberto Montaner say?

Beatrice E. Rangel

By: Beatrice E. Rangel - 02/07/2024

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On June 29, 2023, Carlos Alberto Montaner, in the exercise of his freedom to decide, left our earthly dimension to begin the journey of legend.

At the Inter American Institute for Democracy we have not yet been able to fill his absence even though we continue to manage many of his ideas and many of his projects.

And it is precisely when we prepare to continue forward that we think about how Montaner would approach our dilemmas, which are none other than those of creating the formula to contribute to the revitalization of freedom in the Americas.

The evolution of the hemisphere in this last year cannot be said to be happy. Although pro-freedom governments ascended in Argentina, Paraguay and Guatemala, in Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Honduras, populism corrodes democratic institutions daily.

However, in Venezuela there is hope anchored in the iron will of civil society to be free following the leadership of Maria Corina Machado who has proven to be the strongest in her fight for the freedom of Venezuela of all the leaders in the region. together. And she has come to vindicate one of Carlos Alberto Montaner's theses expressed in his work “Latin America and Western Culture.” “Only to the extent that democracy is built by civil society will Latin America enter the political-cultural edifice of the West” Because the movement led by Ms. Machado is that of Venezuelan civil society whose sacrifice has been one of the greatest in universal history. With more political prisoners than in Iran, larger and darker torture chambers than those created by the Cuban regime; the use of foods from the basic diet to break its democratic spirit and with an exodus of almost eight million people, Venezuelan civil society has paid a colossal price for the errors of the Venezuelan elites who turned their backs on it to continue doing business. And it is that civil society that has shouted Enough!! And he began to create the path to his freedom just as Montaner intuited.

But in the United States, another country that filled the affections of Carlos Alberto Montaner, every day we move further away from the precepts of liberal democracy. Today it is almost impossible to have a conversation about politics without running the risk of being stoned by either of the two irreconcilable sides into which the American political spectrum is divided. Lies are trafficked daily. Conspiracy theories are spread, such as that absurd piece of advice entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was used as a weapon to practice anti-Semitism. This nonsense circulates on social networks whose absence of editorialization has made connectivity a transmission belt for antidemocratic messages. Montaner also sensed this scenario in his book “Liberty and its Enemies” where he describes how the distortion of facts, the theft of identity, the absence of transparency and above all the penetration of lies in all dimensions of human endeavor end for destroying democracies. And it seems that we, the citizens of this great country, have become bored with the virtues of liberal democracy to begin to emulate the behavior of the elites of the nations that live south of the Rio Grande. Those elites perfectly described in the book “Manufacturers of Misery” have made polarization the best business in the world for them. And in the process of mimicry we can end up infecting the entire world just as Germany did with Europe in the third decade of the last century. This was also talentedly glimpsed by Carlos Alberto Montaner in his final reflections on the political processes that he had experienced and that he masterfully collects in his book “Without Going Further.”

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