Thursday, April 08, 2004

Electoral observations (5 & 6): Bill Barnes, Tom Long

The discussion continues:

Bill Barnes: The life-long history of courage and dedication of people like Schafik and Leonel will be recorded in the history books and the memories of many Salvadorans (not the memory of the Salvadoran people; no such entity exists) -- as will their repeated serious errors of political judgment. It is the latter which is relevant to the current discussion, not the former. The last thing the Salvadoran left needs now is foreigners engaging in uncritical cheer-leading and apologetics for the FMLN ortodoxos. Such was highly counterproductive in its impact on the FSLN in Nicaragua during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Such has been based on naiveté and ignorance regarding what has gone on within the FMLN and the FSLN over the last 20 years. And a naivete about politics in general. "The FMLN deserved a fair shake, and in my opinion, did not get it..." Does the Pope shit in the woods? The right (whether the U.S. Republican Party or ARENA) has never given a political opponent a "fair shake" if they could get away with avoiding it -- and neither has any Leninist. It is only the democratic left, and some centrists, that voluntarily make serious attempts to actually live by such norms.

A week or so after the March 1997 elections in which the FMLN for the first time ran a modern campaign and did well (under the campaign leadership of Facundo Guardado and Julio Hernández), the Mexican pollster Fernando Bazua presented a post-election analysis to the FMLN Political Commission emphasizing the need to continue in this new direction and to fully accept that "we're in a post-communist era." Schafik jumped on Bazua. Maria "Chichilco" Serrano, smiling that smile, responded: "Compañero Schafik, I know you know much more about these questions than I do, but it is true isn't it that the Soviet Union no longer exists?" Schafik had no (effective) reply.

Tom Long comments: Too right, sir. I recall being in Managua the day after elections in 1990, in a house full of foreigners (all Spaniards, except for me), and two Nicaraguans. The Spaniards were raving on and on about the CIA and the imperialists and blah, blah, blah. And then I noticed the two Nicaraguans sitting on the couch, earnestly discussing among themselves what had gone so wrong with the revolutionary project, that it had turned the majority of their own population so obviously against it. That kind of reflection is so necessary, and yet so rare among the camp-follower foreign cheerleaders, on their revolutionary summer vacations.

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