On June 3, 2018, the communities surrounding Guatemala's Mount Fuego were devastated by the volcano's eruption. An estimated 1.7 million were affected with displacement after a modest recovery from the mudslides affecting the area two years previously. The human interest aspects to the destruction's story brought Guatemala into focus and some discussion surrounding its plan for relief and recovery. Now, as 2018 closes, a similar situation has occurred yet again for the citizens who have started their lives over. The focus of the human spirit triumphing over harsh circumstances shows much bravery but is only part of a (tired) story we witness repeatedly.
Although Guatemala is a beautiful country with potential, the economy has struggled despite a healthy GDP averaging over 60 billion USD between 2015-2018. The neighboring countries of El Salvador and Honduras, in contrast, averaged 23 billion and 21 billion, respectively. President Morales inherited an inflation rate of ~ 2.4% but rose to remain steady around 4%. Despite long-term pledges of equality, the wealth distribution of the country has remained skewed with more than half of the population below the poverty line and the indigenous population most sharply affected. Nor have Morales' campaign platforms of ending malnutrition and steadying employment made significant social impact. This culminated with protests for his resignation a few months ago after UN corruption investigations arose.
The question is why... and what should be the Libertarian take-away. The story of their problems is not one that fixing blame will now fix, either at US or their previous administrations. That has become the easy way out as Guatemalans became part of the Migrant Caravan now at the US-Mexican border. The manifestations of socialism are painfully obvious, leaving the human capability to overcome to be only partly realized.
The core philosophy of socialism is egalitarianism. Long adopted into the country's political scene, the promises of magnanimity make sense. The focus on basic human necessities with public transparency, food security and education are universally recognized to be societal building blocks - witness Morales' platform under the slogan of "Neither corrupt nor a thief". Perhaps not ironically he has now defended his own anti-defamation campaign.
The practical effect of socialism is to create a dependency relationship upon a central authority. This is its core weakness and, when subject to amoral forces, becomes untenable in the attempt to maintain itself. The role of distributor was designed to be the government's role, not that of broker. Per the CIA Factbook the wealthiest 20% of the country have 51% of the purchasing capability. Economic disposition is directly related to a personal sense of dignity and creativity. The undermining of self-reliance locks a population into this relationship - fragile at best, malign at worst.
So how we do view Guatemala? With hope... That they can export needed change into their own system and take to heart the reality that honesty is alive in people. Make no mistake - poverty is a desperate situation. One must become self-reliant with nothing, to live without the tools and control - the denied benefit of socialism - to be successful. Human drive to thrive is strong and needs to be encouraged, as it is by the Libertarian philosophy of self-sufficiency and volunteerism. Centralized control denies political evolution by dissolving legitimate avenues of redress. Conditions that espouse freedom of choice allows government intervention to remain at a minimum instead of people pushing back against the maximum, as we all recognize for best effect.