By Atawallpa Oviedo Freire (Andean Philosopher, Founder of Movimiento al Buen Vivir Global, Director of Escuela Superior Alteridad)
The original Spanish text was published in Alteridad, https://www.alteridad.net/2021/03/14/respuesta-a-la-carta-abierta-de-boaventura-de-souza/.
I’ve read several times, with great sadness, your “Open Letter to Two Young Indigenous Ecuadorians” , in which, once again, and without intending to, you end up supporting progressivism. This, despite the fact that you say you are critical of it and do not want to provide advice. Like other decolonial thinkers, such as Dussel and Grosfoguel, who have also supported Latin American progressivism and who, in the same way, without intending to, remain Eurocentrics, even though they say they are not or say that they question it.
The hegemony of Western perspectives, in their right-wing and left-wing (especially the left-wing self-named progressive) manifestations are resistant to losing their conceptual and factual privileges. The progressive faction has fought against us [the Indigenous movement] more aggressively than the right wing, supposedly the antagonist side. Progressive people in Latin America have persecuted, criminalized, and assassinated us, and you are asking our people to be masochists and vote for them so they can continue these abuses. Neither the right-wing, nor the monarchists before, managed to divide the Indigenous movement in these 500 years as have the exponents of Socialism of the 21st Century, and you tell us that the progressives are our allies. Ironically, in the right-wing governments we were stronger and more unified, until the right-wing’s progressive faction came into power to divide and dismantle us. And you are asking us to repeat this history.
You reminded us in your letter what the Stalinists did to all who questioned them, under the argument that they had to defend the revolution in spite of its mistakes. And you saw how that turned out, so as to recognize that it was a mistake to support the Stalinists. This is the same case now, but you are asking us to forget what happened in all of the worldwide history of the left, with its persecutions against those who disagreed with their dogmas, under the argument that the right-wing’s neoliberal faction and imperialism are the real danger. The truth is that, for us, both sides are dangerous, and it is not obvious which is the most dangerous. Both are self-defeating, not only for humanity but for life as a whole, because the extractivist model is maintained and reproduced regardless of whether the left or the right holds power.
In the end, it seems that you have joined the global network of progressives, echoing the same Stalinist discourse. You say that Yaku Pérez supported the coup in Bolivia. You only did not add that Yaku was in agreement with Janine Añez and that he supported the deaths of Senakaba and Senkata, which is the full narrative of the Correist discourse that you have accepted uncritically. You should have substantiated your claims, proving that Yaku supported the coup. So far nobody I have challenged has been able to prove it. Yaku, just like Mallku Quishpe, and many of the Indigenous and social movements’ leaders, and even in a way Choquehuanca himself, criticized Evo Morales for his eagerness to stay in power forever and for rejecting the results of the referendum in which the Bolivian people, including those in the MAS political party, told him that he should make way for someone else.
Are we to suppose that the rejection of the referendum was not also a coup against democracy? Who began to do coups? Did you criticize that coup? Did you criticize blocking the alternation of power that Indigenous philosophy demands? This is something that, after Añez’s coup, Morales himself recognized, that he erred in his idea of perpetuating himself in power. And, given that it appeared that he won that election by fraud, something that has not been demonstrated that it did not occur, the victory of MAS in the last elections does not necessarily confirm that there was no fraud. Yaku criticized all of this, but you are repeating what the Correists are saying.
In the whole letter you criticize Yaku, and you only neglected to say that he is part of the right wing, even though you indeed say that Pachakutik supported the right-wing’s neoliberal Lenin Moreno regime. Prove that, too. Indeed, there were a few members of Ecuador’s legislature who supported certain projects, but they were questioned and criticized by Pachakutik. But you are repeating the Correist narrative that Pachakutik was allied with Moreno, and in doing that you are joining an international network of progressives in the dirty campaign against the Indigenous movement and, in particular, against Yaku, as Salvador Schavelzon has demonstrated .
We in the Indigenous movement and the left fought for several years against the corruption of the Correist progressives, much more than did the right, and now you are also trying to sell to the public the story of “lawfare.” And what do you think of what Correism did when it “stuck its hands in the justice system”, as Correa himself said? Is that not also “lawfare”? You cite Alberto Acosta in your letter. You should read all that he has written about Correism, and also the three great books by several intellectuals who wrote about it, of which Acosta was one of the editors. These are in addition to the number of books that we have produced individually about the implications of Correism, which are not about the great advances that you highlight. Furthermore, the right-wing governments of Colombia, Panama, and Paraguay reduced poverty much more than Correa.
When you were in Quito, six years ago, and you personally met with several intellectuals, we explained to you the situation that we were going through, but this did not have a substantial effect. Since that encounter, I felt that you did not completely understand our struggle. Time has confirmed that, as you have always ended up aligning with the side of progressivism. Your letter to which I am responding here makes clear what your position is and confirms once more that we are on different paths.
We are on different paths because we have two different ways of understanding reality and how to live. I am part of those who function with the ancient collective rationalities and “pensasientos” [thought-feelings], which remain alive and latent in the majority of the planet, in spite of the “epistemicide” that Eurocentrism has tried to accomplish but has not succeeded, not even in Europe where the Indigenous Celtic movement is reviving. I don’t know if you know it, it would appear that you don’t know about it in detail, but what is certain is that you do not produce your reflections from the point of view of the Awen or Druid philosophies of the land of your birth. This collective philosophy from Indigenous Europe is beyond the “epistemologies of the South,” and is consistent with Indigenous philosophies from all over the world, since there is no major difference between the Celtic philosophy and the Inca, Maya, Hindu, Chinese, Bantu, and other philosophies.
To not speak from the perspective of an ancient collectively-constructed philosophy is to speak from a Eurocentric vision, or more precisely a Hellenic one, which the Greeks systematized and called civilization. This is a paradigm that the Christianized Romans imposed on the Indigenous cultures of Europe, and which the civilized or indoctrinated Europeans have continued to reproduce, but which the Celtic movement is now challenging.
But the majority of European intellectuals of the left still have not taken them into account, as is also the case in the rest of the Western world and its satellites, in which all speak from a Eurocentric vision of the left or right. For this reason, right-wing and many left-wing movements criticize the Indigenous philosophies, or look down on them because they do not know them, and, above all, because they do not function from those ontologies and epistemes.
And hence, all over the world these left movements ridicule this ancestral knowledge, with labels of Pachamamism, Abyayalism, Essentialism, Ethnicism, Culturalism, Fundamentalism, and lately even Fascism. And in the present case, they also speak of movementism, suggesting that it has fallen into apoliticism, which makes clear that they do not know the Ecuadorian Indigenous movement very well. And it appears that they think the same of Zapatismo, that it is just a movementist action of the NGOs funded by the Global North.
So, we the Indigenous people of all colors from all of Mother Earth have risen up to reclaim sumak kawsay (Abya Yala), Ubuntu (Africa), Swaraj and Tanxia (Asia), Awen (Europe), to mention a few concepts, all of which could be translated into English as “everybody living in harmony under the sky,” as the ancient Chinese say. It is from the perspective of these ancient collective epistemologies that we speak and interpret our reality, and that is the difference with all the rest who speak from the perspective of the Eurocentric epistemologies of the South and North, some more and others less but after all Eurocentric, and I think there still remain in you some leftovers from Eurocentrism.
They are Eurocentric because they do not make their criticism from the point of view of an epistemology that has been developed collectively by the peoples themselves, but from their individualist particularism formed in the Eurocentric paradigm and not from the serious study of the non-Western philosophies. That is to say, they have not taken a collective turn to speak from epistemologies and ontologies built over thousands of years, but speak from constructs shaped by individuals or by small groups created in the interior of the West.
Ultimately, progressivism is part of that, which is the postmodern expression of the media and academic sectors that seek to displace the social movements (especially the Indigenous movement) or co-opt them to be under their social-democratic or even Christian Democrat tutelage, under the heading of “New Left.” For that reason, we’ve been clashing, because we are no longer following the Eurocentric path of “Socialism of the 21st Century,” but are contesting its conceptions and horizons. Because they want to keep having us only as a mass base or Indigenist or feminist or environmentalist or popular arm. And because we have taken up a struggle which is no longer only about class or morality (as they want it to be) but is an ontological and trans-civilizational struggle. This is what is behind one position and the other.
Open letter to two young indigenous Ecuadorians
AN Original 2021-03-15 By Boaventura de Sousa Santos
My dear young friends
I appreciate the time you have spent conversing with me over these past few weeks, discussing the election process now underway in your country. As I told you then, I was truly perplexed by the international controversy among the various party families on the left regarding that process. To recap: It seems like a case of the cunning of reason that in recent weeks the political process unfolding in Ecuador – a country located, as its name suggests, at the center of the world – has become the arena of a fierce dispute between intellectuals and activists on the left, not only from Ecuador but also from other countries in Latin America, Europe, the US, South Africa and India. The reason for the argument is the ongoing presidential election process.
The winner of the first round, albeit without an absolute majority, was Andrés Araúz, who represents, to a certain extent, a return to Correismo (a term used to describe the years of Rafael Correa’s rule, from 2007 to 2017). Guillermo Lasso, who represents the oligarchic right, was second (after a few recounts), and Yaku Perez, an indigenous candidate from the Pachakutik movement, was third.
At first, the conflict focused on possible electoral fraud, which had allegedly robbed Perez of second place. But the legal-electoral debate that ensued was in fact a reworking of the earlier campaign to prevent Andrés Araúz from running on account of his ties to Rafael Correa. It is worth bearing in mind that typical lawfare strategies had been used to prevent Correa from running as Arauz’s vice president. Once this issue seemed settled, the conflict became about the decision over which candidate to support in the second round. In no time the controversy spilled beyond the country’s borders and gave way to savage insults and counter-insults, calls for censorship and counter-censorship.
I found all of this not only surprising but actually quite baffling. That was why I got in touch with you over these past few weeks. It turned out that, once again – and it has always been the case in Ecuador –, the indigenous peoples were playing a key role in political change, but the overwhelming majority of the voices in the debate, both in Ecuador and abroad, were not their own. All that was known about the indigenous movement was that it was divided over Yaku Perez, given that the candidate had initially been chosen not by the indigenous peoples and nationalities, but by the Pachakutik movement. Although Pachakutik first came on the scene as the political arm of CONAIE (the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), its subsequent political trajectory and, in recent years, its alignment in some issues with Lenín Moreno’s neoliberal right-wing government in particular, has caused some tensions with the indigenous movement.
Especially puzzling was the silence coming from the young indigenous leaders, who, let us remember, had had differences with indigenous leaders and with the government in the past – a situation I myself followed closely, as you well know. When, on August 15, 2014, I chaired the Special Room on the Yasuni National Park – in the context of the Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, chaired by my friend Vandana Shiva –, you, along with the indigenous peoples, were the tribunal’s best allies.
These were the reasons that led me to consult with you. Today I am writing to let you know that I have decided not to be unconditionally aligned with one or the other side. I am aware that you will be disappointed in me; you may say legitimately say that I have wasted your precious time. That is why I want to explain to you the reasons for my decision. My reasons are, in fact, perplexities.
1. Does democracy come first?
One of the lessons learned by the left in recent decades, both in Latin America and other regions of the world, is that the forces of the left are the sincerest supporters of liberal democracy, even as they recognize its many shortcomings and strive to use it in order to radicalize democracy, that is to say, to turn power relations into relations of shared authority. Experience tells us that the right is not at the service of democracy, but rather uses it when it finds it convenient to do so and discards it when it does not. I have a vivid memory of September 30, 2010 – the day the police forces attempted a coup against Rafael Correa. My friend Alberto Acosta came by my hotel and we rushed to the CONAIE headquarters, where we spent the entire day. The indigenous movement already had some just complaints against Correa at the time, but the priority, at that moment, was not so much to defend Correa as the democracy that he stood for.
If this is true, once the courts had decided that there had been no fraud in the 2021 election, the political debate should have focused on each candidate’s political platform. So why does it continue to focus on the integrity of the candidates rather than on their platforms? We must bear in mind that the neoliberal right of various countries on the continent has no platform other than the usual neoliberal recipes, and therefore has been playing the morality card against the candidates on the left, accusing them of corruption. In addition, two disturbing facts need to be taken into account.
First, a veritable legal warfare – or lawfare – is being waged in Ecuador for crimes allegedly committed by Rafael Correa, with the sole apparent purpose of neutralizing him politically. This war has been an attempt to damage André Araúz, the candidate who claimed Correa’s legacy. There have been similar campaigns of political neutralization waged against Manuel Zelaya (Honduras), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) and Evo Morales (Bolivia). In all these instances there has been clear interference on the part of the US. I find it perplexing that many of those who have signed statements against candidate Araúz have also signed statements against Evo Morales and have refused to acknowledge that there was ever a coup in Bolivia.
The second disturbing fact is that, at the time of writing, a last attempt to invalidate the election or remove the most voted for candidate has not been ruled out. In fact, it was this very suspicion that recently prompted the UN Secretary-General to make a statement to the effect that everything should be done to hold the runoff election on the scheduled date. Only a few weeks ago, Colombia’s Attorney General went to Quito expressly to present “proof” that Araúz had received money from the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Colombian guerrilla group, to finance his campaign. Prompt denials by both Araúz and the ELN and the blatant improbability of the allegations were not enough to prevent “investigations” from being initiated. We know that Colombia is now a US satellite and that OAS secretary Luis Almagro – a sinister character who engineered the coup in Bolivia – met in Washington with Ecuador’s President, Lenín Moreno, who has made no secret of his preference for Lasso, with Perez his second-favorite candidate. Ecuadorian law is clear in this regard: candidates have immunity, and electoral laws cannot be changed during the election period. However, as we have seen in the case of Brazil, one never knows how far the persecutory wrath of lawfare will go.
2. Does the left come first?
Intellectuals and activists on the left, notably from feminist and environmentalist groups, have been playing a key role in the Ecuador debate. Some of the participants are colleagues and friends of mine, for whom I have great regard and with whom I have worked over the years. If we accept that Araúz is of the left, at least when compared to Lasso, all our energies should be expected to be invested in the cause of defeating the candidate of the right, and the indigenous movement should be deeply involved in the effort. But that is not what is happening, and one of the organizations that integrates the CONAIE has decided that casting a null vote would be the sensible thing to do. One cannot belittle the reasons for such a stance. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that in the current conditions of the continent one may be neutral when faced with a candidate coming from the democratic left (however problematic) and one that is an Opus Dei banker. Are we talking about the labor pains of the birth of a new left in Ecuador, a left truly in line with the 21st century? As far as I know, this labor is always bound to be painful. Hence the next two perplexities.
3. What is the left?
The left has long been conceived of as the set of transformative political theories and practices that, over the last one hundred and fifty years, have stood up to the expansion of capitalism and to the kind of economic, social, political and cultural relations generated by it, driven by a belief in the possibility of a post-capitalist future and an alternative society that will be not only more just – because it will be geared toward the satisfaction of the real needs of people – but also more free – because it will focus on creating the conditions for the effective exercise of freedom. For many reasons that I will refrain from detailing in this letter, the above definition has been the subject of much debate, of which I will offer only a brief outline. As popular movements across the world became more acquainted with each other, it also became clear that the political divides obtaining in many countries do not express themselves in terms of the left/right dichotomy.
Even in those countries where that dichotomy exists, a huge debate has erupted about the actual meaning of the two terms. Thus, for example, social and political struggles against injustice have greatly expanded the dimensions of injustice and, hence, of domination. In addition to economic and social injustice there was ethno-racial injustice, sexual injustice, historical injustice, linguistic injustice, epistemic injustice, as well as injustices based on disability, caste, religion, etc. This raised new questions, such as the hierarchy of injustices and, consequently, of the struggles against them. Renewed attention was paid to the various specific contexts in which these struggles take place, and it became more and more necessary to distinguish between important and urgent struggles. It became possible, for example, to argue that the three main forms of domination created by Eurocentric modernity are capitalism, colonialism (which, after the colonies gained political independence, changed only in form) and patriarchy.
On the Latin American continent, these debates took on other, especially important dimensions. Here are the three main ones. The first was the questioning of the left/right dichotomy, in light of the models of economic and social development adopted by left-wing governments during the first decade of the century. This meant that the polarization was now between the advocates and opponents of neo-extractivism (social redistribution based on the unprecedented exploitation of natural resources, accompanied by the expulsion of native and peasant peoples, ecological crisis, and conservatism related to ethno-cultural, ethno-racial and sexual/heterosexual discrimination). “Progressivism” was the term coined to describe the governments that claimed to be of the left but were not regarded that way by the opponents of neo-extractivism.
The second dimension was the statism/movementism polarization. In the sub-continent (as in much of the world), the political forces of the left have traditionally been mostly in favor of the need to control the State in order to use it as the foundation on which to achieve the desired social transformation. Disappointment with historical experience (Stalinism being the most flagrant illustration) worsened at the beginning of the twenty-first century, as a result of the neo-extractivist developmental projects carried out on Latin America. Such projects were led by the State, almost invariably in conjunction with global neoliberal capitalism, and that, in the eyes of the opponents of neo-extractivism, meant the continuation of colonial exploitation. Hence the importance attached to conceptions such as “[to] change the world without taking power” (a John Holloway’s phrase often misunderstood), which caused the proposals of the left to focus on the struggle for a new hegemony (that of the rights of nature) and on a valorization of community projects based on the notions of self-determination and plurinationality.
While the statist conception tended to inflate the transformative power of the State – whose matrix, after all, is basically capitalist- colonialist, patriarchal and monocultural –, the movementist conception ran the risk of depoliticizing social movements, such risk being all the greater when it became evident that the support received by the latter came from non-governmental organizations financed by the Global North, for the most part in an attempt to prevent the social movements from becoming political movements.
The third dimension, although not an exclusive characteristic of the sub-continent, is the very rapid transformation of the parameters of political polarization. In face of the aggressive, and sometimes putschist, vindictiveness of the right-wing governments that followed the progressive governments, the principal form of polarization was between democracy and dictatorship. And then, in face of the particularly dramatic and painful situation caused by the incompetent, and even criminal, way in which the right-wing governments dealt with the health crisis, the main form of polarization was between politics of life and politics of death. This latest mutation is mostly to be found in Brazil and Ecuador.
The debates within the forces of the left remain open. On the one hand, they have brought visibility and political potency to a wide variety of social struggles. On the other, they have given rise to new differences that have proved difficult to reconcile. Unless this obstacle is removed, the struggles waged by the left will lead to further fragmentation instead of articulation and grow increasingly weaker instead of stronger. Two obstacles in particular are having a paralyzing effect: differences regarding the role of the State and institutional struggles; and differences regarding the hierarchical order not only of the driving forces of the struggles (social classes? ethno-racial or sexual identities?) but also of the social goals of the struggles (social redistribution? the recognition of diversity?). Underlying these difficulties is the mega-difficulty generated by the differences between developmentalism/extractivism and buen vivir/rights of nature.
The only sure takeaway from all these debates, for now, is probably that the forces of the left know better what they do not want than what they do want. They have long suffered from the political pandemic that predated Coronavirus and which took over the world after the 1980s – the notion that there is no alternative to capitalism and that we have therefore come to the end of history. Interestingly enough, the first strong signals that the forces of the left may be feeling immune to the virus of neoliberalism have come from Ecuador. Let’s see.
The Ecuador debate is being strongly influenced by the undermining of the left’s imaginary in the wake of Rafael Correa’s centralism and technocratism. More than any other left-wing political leader of the 2000s, Correa conceived of the left as a sovereignist, top-down, centralist and monocultural anti-imperialist project, committed to social redistribution, but conservative with regard to women’s reproductive rights and averse to any constructive dialogue with organized civil society. This period coincided with a phase of renewed creativity on the part of the forces of the left, which in turn resulted from several factors, among which I would highlight the end of the Soviet bloc and the emergence of new political subjects, notably women, indigenous peoples, peasants, the ecological movements, and the World Social Forum.
The whole idea of alternatives gained new life with these changes and was further boosted by the political Constitutions of Ecuador (2008) and Bolivia (2009), which pointed the way to a plurinational refounding of the State and to alternatives to capitalist development based on the philosophies and practices of indigenous peoples. Although still unsure about where their struggles were ultimately headed, the new lefts seemed certain that they would necessarily involve broad processes of democratic participation, the recognition of ethnocultural diversity and of the rights of nature, the plurinational refounding of the State, and the fight against colonialism and patriarchalism. Thus, the anti-capitalist struggle – with its demand for, at the very least, better social redistribution – became articulated with the struggle against colonialism (including racism, ethno-racial discrimination, land concentration, the expulsion of native and peasant peoples, xenophobia, and the monoculture of scientific knowledge) and patriarchy (hetero-sexual domination, domestic violence and feminicide).
In view of the discrepancy between Correa’s governance and the changes in the forces of the left and the indigenous movement, frustration mounted and is very much alive, as we can see. Hence my next perplexity.
4. Who is Rafael Correa anyway?
Had Correa been only, and for all Ecuadorians, the leader I have just described, is it even imaginable that the candidate with the most votes would be the one who claims his legacy? Of course not. Because Correa’s administration had many other dimensions that, although played down by certain sectors of the population, were of great importance to others. Correa maintained political stability for ten years, no small feat in a country that had had no less than seven presidents in the preceding ten-year period. He was internationally praised for launching Ecuador’s debt audit commission, which led to significant debt reduction. He made social redistribution a priority, ensuring that social benefits reached many people who had lived their entire lives without decent living conditions. Poverty dropped from 36.7 percent in 2006 to 22.5 percent in 2016, there was a decrease in inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient, and the middle classes saw their prospects improve. Correa introduced free education at all levels of the public education system and raised teachers’ salaries. He built much urgently-needed basic infrastructures and established himself as a nationalist leader, the guardian of Ecuadorian sovereignty against US imperialism (I remember the impact of the closing of the Manta base in 2009), even though, over the years, he was forced to come under another foreign influence – that of China.
The truth is that, despite all the social unrest, Rafael Correa managed to get Lenín Moreno, his vice president, elected as his successor, although shortly afterwards Moreno subserviently surrendered to the IMF and to the US geostrategic interests in the region, in addition to being complicit in the political persecution of Correa. What all this means is that the least that can be said is that at the end of his mandates Ecuador was a more just society, at least in some respects, than the country that had been ruled by successive waves of right-wingers controlled by the oligarchic elites. So why is it that now, when the oligarchic right again has a candidate in the runoff election, it is not evident in the eyes of some of the forces on the left that the thing to do is to endorse Araúz? I submit, as a working hypothesis, that part of the difficulty stems from the fact that today Ecuador is probably the country in the entire sub-continent with the widest gap between economic-social redistribution and ethno-social recognition and the fewest means to bridge it. Hence my next two perplexities.
5. What is transition?
One of the main problems with which the lefts that are currently in labor will be faced is the question of transition. We are increasingly aware of the fact that we want an anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, anti-patriarchal, ecological, feminist, plurinational, radically democratic, self-determined society. We are aware of the fact that what we are talking about is a civilizational paradigm shift. How do we fight for it? First of all, we have to be aware of the fact that the fight we are talking about is eminently political. The seemingly apolitical banners of the NGOs have only one purpose, which is to disarm the popular movement. That is why they are heavily funded by the countries of the Global North. I can understand that many of you have grown so frustrated with formal politics that you would rather engage your activism outside the party system.
However, while you believe that that system has any relevance, it is better to know what is at stake. Even if we conceive of the struggle as being political, organizing it is no easy task. We know institutions are not to be trusted, but we cannot live without them. We will have to fight with one foot in the institutions and the other outside of them. We will have to fight within, against and outside the State, resorting to different ways – some of them never tested before – of organizing our struggles. And what about allies? We are unlikely to find them among the forces of the right. Whenever the right returns to power, it does so with a vengeance. Take the case of Bolsonaro in Brazil, Macri in Argentina, or the putschist Añez in Bolivia. Is it wise to take the same risk with Lasso in Ecuador? Of course, everything will be easier if Araúz unequivocably shows himself attuned to the transition and not to a return to the past. You are young, the future of the country is in your hands. There are three areas to which you should pay special attention: transition away from extractivism, intercultural education, and co-government with CONAIE, aimed at bringing to fruition the plurinationality enshrined in the 2008 Constitution. The first two areas are part of Araúz’s platform, but all three of them depend on your organized political pressure, which must continue (and not end) after the election. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes of the past.
My dear young friends:
My perplexities do not end here, but those listed above should be enough to justify my not intervening in the debate now under way in Ecuador. My wish is that you Ecuadorians, and the Ecuadorian youth in particular, will be the ones to decide the open issues with which you are faced and for which, in all truth, there are no straightforward solutions in sight. What is important is that your decisions are made after careful reflection on the conflicts now raging in your country and without any external interference from well-meaning internationalist intellectual-activists like myself – who, myself included, may very well be wrong – or from foreign countries, be they the US, European countries, Latin American countries, or China. One thing is certain: If your democracy is preserved, whatever you decide will have major consequences, whether positive or negative, for the future of those who, in the rest of the world, see themselves reflected in these polarizations. There are definitely consequences to being at the center of the world.