Bachelet’s trip to Cuba was shameful, and a blow to Latin America’s democratic left

miami heraldOutgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Cuba earlier this week was a disgrace to her legacy as a democratic leader. But what’s worse, it was a huge blow to the remnants of a democratic, human rights-conscious and globalized left in Latin America.

For decades, Chile’s moderate leftist governments have been a model for Latin America’s democratic left. Moderate left-of-center politicians across the region cited Chile as an example of a country that succeeded in reducing poverty on a long-term basis without the political repression, economic chaos and massive migration caused by the radical leftist regimes of Cuba and Venezuela.

Chile has reduced poverty from 40 percent of its population at the end of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990 to 11.7 percent of the population in 2015, a larger drop than in any other Latin American country. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.