The political thoughts in Latin America and its adaptation to our region
In my last article, I had written about how the organisation was made by the Costa Rica Embassy on the 21st of March at the Cervantes Institute, and that Professor Roberto Fragomeno, Associate Professor and Director of the School of Philosophy, had made a speech titled “The political thoughts of Latin America”. In this week’s article, I would like to share with you the summary of the panel conversations and how we have applied these to our own region.
The Costa Rican University Professor Roberto Fragomeno was accompanied by our ambassador on the panel, Mr Marcelo Varela-Erasheva. As I share with you the summary of the two hour panel conversation, I will also within the article share in italic font how we can apply these to our country and regions.
A photo we took with the ambassador and speaker minutes before the panel conversation. From left to right: Costa Rican Ambassador Marcelo Varela-Erasheva, myself and speaker Roberto Fragomeno
Ambassador’s Presentation Summary: Argentinian born speaker Fragomeno, has been living in Costa Rica for 29 years and knows our outlook of the world very well and knows our region very well. For this reason, we requested to hear his analysis, to share his thoughts and views with us. Politically, what is happening in Latin America? Faced with unexpected conditions, what are Latin American countries going through right now?
The panel where the speakers were located. On the left is speaker Fragomeno and on the right, ambassador Varela
Roberto Fragomeno’s Speech (The comments made in italic font will be representing my comparison of Latin America with our country and region to give you further detail. I will be doing this under each sub heading).
When I speak of Latin America, I refrain from speaking of it as a narrow national view point. For example, I accept and understand that identities of Mexico and Argentina were creations of time; however without practicing any favouritism, we are speaking of a united idea here. And this idea is Latin America’s idea and it’s not a tangible reality, on the contrary it’s a project.
In our country, narrow nationalism is knee deep. This notion has a similarity with micro nationalism in which I first came across with when I went to the army to do my military service. After everyone had asked me for my name and surname, the next question was where I was from. I was really getting sick of these questions but in order to comply, I found the right technique to answer this. If anyone ever asked me “where are you from?”, I’d answer their question with a question and ask “where are you from?”. If they answered to a region from the East or South, then I’d say I was from “Gaziantep” (my father is from Gaziantep), if they said they were from the Black Sea, then I’d say I was from “Trabzon” (my mother is from Trabzon), if they said anywhere in the West, then I’d say that I was “born and bred in Istanbul”. For me, it doesn’t matter where you come from, your character, mindset and conscious is most important. This doesn’t apply just to the people of Turkey, but to people worldwide. The rest is unnecessary.
A pillaged culture
- Western invaders were very wild towards our first settlers and hurt them very much, and through massacres, they faced looting and genocide. Our continent was captured by the Westerners and in the first 100 years, 90% of our people died. In just one century, traces of this huge destruction can be found in Bartolomé de las Casas’ın (1484-1566) works; the cultural inheritance which came from our ancestors were belittled, and we can see that the barbaric methods of civilisation turned a blind eye to our wisdom. Whereas from many aspects, the information gathered from these lands were much more advanced than those of Europe in the same era. For example, the Mayans argued we were living in celestial bodies of the sun and that the world was a planet orbiting around a star, which was founded way before the Westerners did in the Copernicus era. The Latin American history dates back to 10.000 years which was destructed in the last 500 years by the West traumatic effects.
Our region is also still living through this trauma. I hope that the Western countries will let go of their supremacy traits and recognise that we all live and share one world which contains all the different riches and cultures, and that all countries, people and nations need to work and make an effort to increase the humanity. In short, everyone needs to put their differences aside and start working together for the sake of mankind.
The solutions and values of the past
- In order to fight world crisis, solution based foundations were set in our continent from cultures that were from the pre-Columbian era. The economic crisis we are facing today stem from over producing sources which triggers consumption sources to have a political and military crisis effect. In between the potential to create new sources and the strategic fights, we are also in a technological era, which brings about a gigantic transformation in itself. The many different paths that these developments have opened especially by putting the planet into living risk with nature shows us that we are facing a crisis.
We constantly live through crisis in our country. Unfortunately, we are now immune to this. To me, environmental crisis is the worst one.
- Before pre-Columbian days, where colonialism hadn’t begun, the people were able to guarantee the wealth and welfare of their people. The word ‘poor’ was not found in their language, they had very high values for society, collaboration, solidarity and reciprocity was taken on basis, with no signs of people being selfish and having ulterior motives, nor any signs of egoist individualism.
Where is this developed civilisation in the cradle of civilisation being Anatolia? We are carrying various origins of ancestors who established civilisation, history and social codes in this geography. For this reason, I believe Turkey will again reach civilisation and we will become one amongst many leading countries in the development of humanity.
Colonialism and Independence
- On the other hand, I am refraining from including Spain, Portugal and the USA in the ideological and cultural context as of those of Latin America. Im not just saying this from a local point of view; but it is clear that before colonialism, when you look back at our past, you cannot refer to Latin America. At the same time, you cannot think of Latin America in the same context unless you refer to the continual interference of the USA. For me, Latin America is an idea of continual controversy, harbours struggle, the facts and focuses it has continually faced before and after its colonialism is an entire concentric idea. However, it’s not a synthesis. To date, Latin America’s ideas have grown and developed from its birth, and in every step has come to exist with an idea or project to become independent and so from this concept, cannot be separated.
The colonial countries tried their best here too however we didn’t give them the time of day. Because the Ottoman Empire denied their access to the East (infact they lost lands all the way to Vienna), they were steered to the direction of Oceania and Africa.
The strength of being a crossbreed
- Moments ago, I stressed that I hadn’t adopted a local view point. Of course, before colonialism there was an accumulation as in the 16, 17, 18th century in which there is an intellectual history to Latin America. Besides, you can evaluate the history of Latin America if you don’t integrate the effects of Spain and Portugal on it. For that reason, I need to bring out to the open which position I’m in and what I’m trying to defend. Based on my views, Latin American should be identified as crossbred and the independence that I have mentioned should be recognised as a project of the crossbreeds. At this point, the ‘Latin American people’ term I use is used for short and actually is found in face to face interactions which gives meaning to most of the people and covers the community as a whole.
Nowadays, everyone is crossbred. It is said that Turkey has over 70 different ethnic groups of people. Actually this is a good thing. Because the more people mix, the more they become genetically crossbred which strengthens people. Children that are born from these crossbreeds, generally pick up the strong points of their mothers and fathers.
- Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges was a religious man who fought to avoid Christianity taking different paths and who had written a book about two friends. Despite their mutual efforts, these two friends suffer from a separation between them due to religion. One puts his thoughts forward while the other severely stands against. In the end, because of this opposition, one of the friends are declared an unbeliever and gets served the punishment to be burnt to death. The other friend on the other hand, years later dies in a fire.
We experience similar conflicts too. For this reason sects and religious cults were formed. Everyone drew their own path and like people support a football team, today they are voicing their support of religion, a sect or a cult. Essentially, conflicts are inevitable. I do hope that one day all of humanity will recognise each and everyone’s differences and use their different views to richer the world.
The need for capitalism transformation
- One of the most argued topics in Latin America, the idea which was born in Europe and the same idea which effected Latin America; the spread of capitalism.
This topic relates to the whole world. I believe in the future there will be mass differences and transformations in the capitalist system, because the world can no longer handle systems which have been set up purely based on consumption. We are bringing the world we live in to an unliveable state. The problems are obvious. I had written an article regarding this a few years ago. I’d like to remind you of this again: http://serhansuzer.com/en/energy-and-environment-where-is-the-world-heading
The things that actually need to be done are quite obvious too. I had also written an article regarding this: http://serhansuzer.com/en/how-can-mankind-restore-the-balance-in-nature-and-secure-its-future
- We are learning about the things that happened in Turkey and Senegal through either the North American or French news agencies - to whom are so far from our situations. This information flow runs parallel to the second globalisation. I say ‘second’ because Latin America was born by being amalgamated by a world system. In the first, the Iberian conquerors globalised with our raw materials; they brought their language (Spanish, Portuguese) and their religion (reformed Catholic).
What more can you say to something so true? Telling us that they had a mission to spread Spanish to the whole world while at the Cervantes Institute placed this speech in our minds as an irony.
A photo taken in the conference hall
- Latin America was a raw material exporter, but however took the place of being the exporter of processed goods. At the moment, value adding production is not in the hands of Latin America and are less defensive to the neoliberal projects crisis.
We have the same problem in Turkey. We are suffering to produce value added products. With our hazelnut, Nutella became a world famous brand. However, with difficult conditions, we are trying to sell and have our hazelnut consumed with tight margins.
The effects of Russia and Turkish television series
- In Latin America, Russia has international reserves potential and a strong financial structure, has a specially effective role in the gas diplomacy and world petroleum sector, and also an agricultural potential which not many people know of. On the world map, Russia’s effectiveness makes the USA and Europe very apprehensive. To this date, President Putin is the most fundamental figure of the 21st century. And this demonstrates that monopolism has come to an end.
We are coming to the end of the gas diplomacy. Russia must take a position in renewable energy.
- Turkey has an explosive economy, and beyond Venezuela who supplied this petrol consuming country, Latin Americans only know one thing about Turkey which relates to the television industry. I can say that the most television series that are watched in Latin America (to completely outdo the American ones) are Turkish series. I’m not sure if the Latin American women identify themselves with the strong-willed women in these series, but I am sure that the population enjoy watching these series immensely. And that is due to the conflicts of moral and impossible love stories which clash with painstaking comprehension.
Turkish series have achieved what no other could. It helped identify the country in a big way and continues to do so. Records of Turkish series are being broken in Latin America, Middle East, Russia and a few other countries in the world. Not to mention the long emotional stares and slow dialogues in the series. Due to their slow tempo, I choose not to watch Turkish series. Could one series really take 3 hours? So sad. Of course, this is my personal opinion.
The importance of democratic institutes and regionalism
- (An answer given based on a question asked about Uruguay) Uruguay is Latin America’s most secular country which has the highest people progression index. Uruguay has Argentina and Brazil as their rather large neighbours; both of which are noisy and chaotic. That’s why Uruguay needs to be the quiet neighbour of them all. They stop to think and for this we are very grateful to them. However, I cannot respond to the question of what needs to be done, because this is a topic for the intellects of Uruguay to analyse and evaluate based on their own history. If you feel you don’t need your history, then you are not thinking. For this reason, I’d like to invite those who want to think about their future, to look back to their past and remember not to forget their history. This is the role of a person who thinks. Besides this, I am always for the strengthening of democratic institutes. In order for the conflicts that were lived somewhat 10 years ago not to repeat, I need to reiterate that democratic and republican institutes carry critical importance and social changes need to be executed with these democratic institutes, not without them.
As he said, Uruguay is one of Latin America’s countries that we need to take an example from. I also agree with looking back on your past in order to approach the future with strategies. Forget about the countries, this also goes for the people. People need to start owning their past, and take out the important lessons from these and take the steps to the future based on these.
- My personal opinion is that Latin America needs to take charge of the regional unification. Brazil with the biggest economy and behind them being Mexico included, I wouldn’t have recommended any Latin American country to develop an introverted development project. Based on my knowledge, Latin America is going through a regional development period, for this reason, ending relations and business with the USA is not going to be for their benefit. Beyond breaking their ties with the USA, they need to fall free from the dominance of the USA. The problem is not the USA, its being dependent on them. For that reason, any isolation moves from the US, will not be fair for countries like Mexico, because there are close to 30 million Mexicans in the US and has rather many cultural interactions between them. Mexicans are also a very important part of the US culture. If there will be any kind of unification, Brazil and Mexico need to take responsibility, and need to lead this period. And of course, needs to be led successfully with democratic processes.
I also agree with regional development. From Turkey’s perspective, we also need to consolidate and unify with Central Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa and with the effect we have there, we need to increase and double our effect. America is made up of 20% Hispanic people. Knowing Spanish served me rather well in the years I was in America. Infact they make jokes about this and how Latin America’s Miami is the closest city to the US. Even in petrol stations in Miami, you will find signs hanging that say “we speak English”. Spanish is spoken in 22 countries and has become a language that is spoken by over 500 million people. Personally, I am very honoured that I had learned to speak Spanish in the past.
Two opposing attitudes for the same rationale
- A professor once said; if you ask someone in Latin America why they dropped their food scraps on the ground after they had eaten in a park, the answer you’d get was “because this is public property”. But in England, no one throws these scraps on the floor, why? The answer is the same again “because this is public property”. We can see from this example that our understanding of “public” and that of other cultures is totally different. Whether it be in government or private sector, firms and institutes need to pay attention to this, and companies who manage people need to do whatever they can in order for a positive transformation.
This is so true. Latin Americans look a lot like us in both negative and positive aspects. And unfortunately with us, a majority of the people are not aware of this; they wouldn’t see the reason why littering on the ground would be a problem. We need to revise the education system from start to end. Especially the education of parents and education of teachers is very important. For this reason I believe that the people working in government need to carry the traits of quality for a positive transformation.
Double sided publicity mission
After this main speech was made, the person in charge of the Cervantes Culture centre, Miguel Grajales was next to speak. He thanked all the speakers in the room. To wrap up, our ambassador made the final speech. Although the event took over 2 hours, the participants all hung around till the end and actively participated. It was a successful event.
To do something like this with people from Oceania who resemble us in so many ways is inevitable. As I had mentioned in my last article, as the Honorary Consul of Costa Rica, I am trying my best to show our country the good and colourful culture of this country. Of course this works both ways. In the same way, we will represent and show our country to Costa Rica. I will share the details of this in the future.
Finally, as I mentioned in my last article, there was a change with Procomer (Costa Rican foreign trade agent), Turkey’s representative. Ali Natour, who held this position for two years, passed on the baton to Ferhat Deger. I had wished Ali all the best in his new life and endeavours in my previous article. I also wish the best success for Ferhat in his new career path.
Left to right: Ferhat Deger, myself, Ali Natour
I would like to finish my article with an introductory video of Costa Rica. You can find the video at the end of the article. Anyone who would like to visit this beautiful country can obtain further information from our Honorary Consul website. Our address is: www.costaricaconsulistanbul.com
Anyone that also has a question can also reach us via the contact section of the website.