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Thank you Comandante Hugo Chavez, you are making Latin America's best example known and imitated

By Tony Pagliaro

08.06.06 | The so-called “Chávez Effect” has definitely caused Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez victory in the race towards the Peruvian presidency. As soon as Chávez 'endorsed' Ollanta Humala, his first round victory started to evaporate rapidly and ended in a disastrous collapse of his well financed electoral efforts in the “ballotage”. Chávez interventionist 'kiss' transformed overnight a sure winner into a sad loser.

In addition, Chávez has caused García to announce that Perú will follow the only successful model in the region: the Chilean one. It is the first time that a regional leading politician “dares” to openly state such a thing, i.e. that he will follow the Chilean trajectory. It is a choice worth celebrating. Chile does stand out as the most successful development model in Latin America. A very pragmatic model, that really “liberates” people.

Chilean leaders, whether on the left or on the right of its political spectrum, no longer trust rigid paradigms. Chile is not (like the Kirchner’s) obsessed with ideological purity of any nature. Nor with the Marxist Gospel.

Instead, it focuses on the possible, combining privatizations with regulation; trade openness with some state ownership in the mining sector; and financial liberalization with some reasonable defensive capital controls. But has constant budget surpluses and a very careful fiscal policy. Virtually no inflation and leaders trained abroad that know the world as it is.

All of the above notwithstanding the social component is not neglected in Chile. So much so, that it is the only country in the region that has been able to substantially reduce poverty, from 45% before the restoration of democracy to 20% today.

From the lost decade of the 80’s and the roaring 90’s we are now beginning to see a healthy conversion to pragmatism. Beyond Chile. A moderate Alan García may be beneficial to a Perú that is already growing in a healthy manner.

The alternative for Perú was to adopt Argentina’s or Venezuela’s “voodoo” economics, combined with authoritarian and populist attitudes and undertones, like the ones used both by Hugo Chávez and his junior partners, the Kirchners.

Argentina and Venezuela, unlike Chile, are full of an unhealthy populist rhetoric, like the young Alan García of 1985, that seems to have been replaced by a more mature and moderate one, much smarter and experienced. One that may be able to lead his country in the always unfinished journey towards development.

Thank you Comandante Chávez, we finally have in the region (this is now the case of Perú) an open imitator of Chile. We could have had a very different one, someone really like you: Ollanta Humala. Thank God it did not happen. Freedom will be preserved in Perú.

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