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El Comercio, Ecuador

Contrasts


By Sebastián Mantilla Baca

Translated By Norma L. Colyer

23 January 2013

Edited by Jane Lee


Ecuador - El Comercio - Original Article (Spanish)

Barack Obama has just initiated his second and final term. Last Monday, at the foot of the Capitol, he took the oath of office before hundreds of thousands of people. In his emotional and inspiring inaugural address, he predicted a better future for America.

A future where there will be equal opportunity without social discrimination or advantages that favor some at the expense of others. But, above all, a future in which the great values that are the foundation of this country since its origins, lie in service to the needy. He stated, “Let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”

Although I do not intend to go further than his speech, I emphasize the fact that through Obama, the tradition of the great values of liberty and equality, a source of inspiration for those who fought for the independence and creation of the North American state, will be maintained alive.

Nevertheless, in certain countries of the hemisphere, only one of these two aspects — equality — has tended to be considered.

Through misinterpretation it has been converted into an inspiring principle for hardly democratic regimes.

More than a goal, equality has been incorporated as the core of an ideological discourse that has allowed maintaining all kinds of violations, arbitrariness and abuse of power.

In fact, equality without freedom does not produce a better type of individual and society.

On the contrary, those regimes that have identified themselves with the pursuit of equality and its achievement through false revolutionary processes have ended in clear and resounding failures.

Although human beings can become free when certain conditions of equality are assured, the opposite does not produce similar results.

Equality without liberty produces slaves. Alienated beings, as Tocqueville used to say, have in common being subjected to the same power that homogenizes them.

Not distinguishing these contrasts leads us to understand what is actually happening in our country, the reasons why we are so content, but at the same time, insensitive to the loss of liberties, the increasing concentration of power, judicial intervention, the neutralization of citizen participation, plagiarism or misuse of government publicity.

Unlike Obama, our politicians do not bet on the future but rather on the short-term and on the most immediate needs. Why would we discuss freedom and equality? Why would we talk about things that no one is interested in? It is a difficult situation for a society not accustomed to thinking, deciding and acting autonomously.



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