A recent episode of Univision senior anchor Jorge Ramos’ “Real America”, now shown on Facebook Watch, builds upon a series of historical inaccuracies and sophistries in order to aid and abet the ongoing effort to soft-sell democratic socialism.
As you’ll see in the clip below, Ramos grossly misrepresents the aims of democratic socialists stateside and lumps all of the “bad” socialists into a single category:
JORGE RAMOS, SENIOR NEWS ANCHOR, UNIVISION: So what, exactly, is democratic socialism? It’s the idea that democracy and the economy work best when there is a strong social safety net- one that provides people with universal access to education and healthcare, one that protects workers and the environment. Democratic socialism believes that people can participate best in a democracy when their basic needs are taken care of. Democratic socialism is different from traditional socialism. Traditional socialism calls for a state-run economy with no free-market capitalism. In practice, traditional socialism often ends in authoritarian disaster. Think of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and North Korea. They all call themselves “socialist countries”. This is what older generations think of when they hear the word “socialism”: poverty, repression, and lack of individual freedoms. But younger generations tend to think of socialism as a system of basic guarantees, protections, and rights for all workers, children, the elderly, and the environment. Most democratic socialists aren’t advocating for a government takeover. They simply want a level playing field for everyone to succeed.
Say what you may about Ramos, but at least he’s aware of who his Anglophone audience is: white progressive millenials, unlike his Spanish-speaking audience on Univision’s evening news, who may well question this historically-challenged view of socialism. Note the protagonist of Ramos’ propagandistic explanation of democratic socialism- the skinny-pant wearing, floppy-haired, bearded recipient of free housing, healthcare, and clothing -a worthy successor to Pajama Boy- who walks under the hammer and sickle, before landing on America with both feet and waving “no” at her. This is pretty ham-fisted, even by Jorge Ramos’ lofty standards of ham-fistedness.
Back to the rogues’ gallery that Ramos assembled as avatars of “traditional socialism”: The purpose of this assembled cast of villians is to present an alternate version of socialism, the ancient “traditional socialism” that lives only in the imaginations of old people and is worlds apart from the sunshiney, enlightened, unicorn-fueled brand of democratic socialism that Ramos just explained. But facts and history are more complex than Ramos’ propagandistic aims.
Fidel and Kim stand on their own as brutal Stalinist tyrants, no further explanation required. None were democratically elected, so they make for easy foils. But both Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro are a bit more complex than that.
Nicaragua’s Ortega seized power as a Marxist revolutionary and was defeated at the ballot box, then reelected years later by running as, wait for it, a democratic socialist. And the crackdown began, basically, once other people’s money (in this case Venezuela’s) ran out.
Speaking of Venezuela, Ramos completely whitewashes the fact that the Bolivarian Revolution, precursor to Latin America’s so-called “21st Century Socialism”, was brought about as a democratic movement. In fact, here’s Hugo Chavez himself, making an impassioned argument for, you guessed it: democratic socialism.
HUGO CHAVEZ: (...) It is popular democracy, Bolivarian democracy, which is a true mechanism for building socialism. That’s democracy. Look...no dictatorship (can) build socialism. And it’s been proven, and proven again. It is impossible to arrive at dictatorship through democracy. There is a phrase and type (of dictatorship) that Vladimir Ilich Lenin launched, the dictatorship of the proletariat. But I believe that was misunderstood, and then it devolved into another type of dictatorship. And finally, the Soviet Union collapsed. So democracy is as necessary to socialism as oxygen is to the lives of we humans, animals and living beings...to life. With each (passing) day, there will be more democracy in Venezuela. But it is this democracy. True democracy, power for the people.
The Latin American tyrannies that Ramos seeks to depict as "old people socialiam" had their origins as social democracies. And it isn’t just old people that feel this way about the tyranny that is inherent to socialism. Univision’s headquarters and news studios are located in Doral, Florida: the raw, beating heart of the Venezuelan exile community- which is far from old. The same can be said for Miami’s Nicaraguan community, which continues to grow as Ortega continues his brutal crackdown against dissidents fed up with the Sandinista Revolution.
To add insult to injury, Ramos claims to show “both sides” of the issue, but only interviews a supporter of democratic socialism. There is no perspective offered by those who favor capitalism, and some of the clips go back to the Cold War- another narrative device intended to depict legitimate opposition to socialism as little more than Cold War scaremongering. But then, had Ramos bothered to present a capitalist perspective, there’s a distinct possibility that his viewers might have heard about the Green New Deal’s now-deleted FAQ section which, in fact, called for a “radical transformation” of government and the economy.
Ramos’ soft-sell of democratic socialism as anything other than socialism is not an isolated event, but is part of a pattern. Given Ramos’ (and Univision’s) refusal to cover the Green New Deal on Spanish-language media, his shielding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the Green New Deal he practically cheered in a recent column and his recent interview with socialist Mayor of San Juan, PR Carmen Yulín Cruz- in which he failed to identify her as a national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, despite the fact that she parroted, almost verbatim, Sanders’ point about the resolution of the Venezuelan crisis being “up to the Venezuelan people”.
The question lingers: Is Ramos really that naive and blind to history, or does he know better but just wants you to “feel the Bern”?