Threat to Democracy

Democracy has been badly wounded recently, and if free societies don’t make the effort to heal and protect it, we will do the opposite — kill it. There are daggers out for democracy from many sides, and in different forms. One slash comes from the attitude of a United States president who is off his rocker, refusing to accept the results of the presidential election. Another comes from the extremism of the Brazilian head of state who has shown that he prefers seeing the population of his country suffer from the pandemic rather than reverse a mistaken decision.

The worst wounds, however, are those inflicted by lies. Lying has, unfortunately, become a very valuable currency in many democracies. Those who know how to lie well, and continue to do so over time, have found themselves in high demand. This is a disgrace to society. Governments, businesses and even social sectors of our society have found that sacrificing the truth is strategically more useful and simpler than transparency.

Another source of our democracies’ ailments is corruption. The shamelessness with which people take what does not belong to them and pillage public coffers has reached a level that should give us all the chills. Here in the Dominican Republic, the most recent tumult is linked to the siblings of our previous president, Danilo Medina. But cases like these are everywhere these days, as we’ve also seen in our regional neighbors, Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

On top of all this, there is shameless impunity. Members of modern democracies watch as powerful people get away with whatever they set their minds to, and are rarely, if ever, prosecuted for their lies and corruption. These powerful figures laugh in the face of justice as they continue to lie and steal on a massive scale, and nobody stops the plunder.

Democracy is in agony and we must save it. The cure will be painful, but it’s clear that if we do nothing, there will also be pain. We can look at Chile and Guatemala to see what we must avoid. Their errors are threatening to expand throughout the Americas. We must wake up in time to avoid the violence that could turn our rivers red.

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