NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Book Lampoons Latin America's Economic "Idiots"

March 1, 2000

Three former leftists have written a biting satire called "Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot" which ridicules anyone and everyone who ever rejected genuine free markets and democratic liberalism in favor of various guises of mercantilism, corporatism and authoritarianism.

Authors Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Alvaro Vargas Llosa point to such political and economic disasters as Peron's Argentina, Allende's Chile, Alan Garcia's Peru and Castro's Cuba. Those leaders are lambasted for spouting statist and anti-imperialist clichés which helped lead their countries into backwardness and political decline.

Here are a few nuggets from the book which is causing a furor throughout the continent:

  • They summarize a certain way of thinking among Latin American intellectuals as: "We're poor; it's their fault."
  • "From which Paleo-Christian handbook did the Latin American idiot learn that earning profits from invested capital is something ethically reprehensible and economically injurious?"
  • Of the supposed exploitation of Latin Americans by evil multinational firms: "General Motors, a company that was without a doubt to defile our honor and deprive us of our soul, hates us so much that it employs 100,000 Mexicans, Colombians, Chileans, Venezuelans and Brazilians."
  • On foreign debt: "The banks only gave us what we asked for, not what the gun-toting imperialists made our governments accept."

The English translation of the book is being published by Madison Books.

Source: Edward Schumacher, "Bookshelf: A Long Tradition of Ridiculous Ideas," Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2000.


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