Carlos Alberto Montaner at PostGlobal

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Madrid, Spain

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a Cuban-born writer, journalist, and former professor. He is one of the most influential and widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media, syndicated in dozens of publications in Latin America, Spain and the United States. He is also vice president of the Liberal International, a London-based federation devoted to the defense of democratic values and the promotion of the market economy. He has written more than twenty books, including Journey to the Heart of Cuba; How and Why Communism Disappeared; Liberty, the Key to Prosperity; and the novels A Dog's World and 1898: The Plot. He is now based in Madrid, Spain. Close.

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Madrid, Spain

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a Cuban-born writer, journalist, and former professor. He is one of the most influential and widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media, syndicated in dozens of publications in Latin America, Spain and the United States. more »

Main Page | Carlos Alberto Montaner Archives | PostGlobal Archives

July 10, 2009 4:29 PM

Mediating the Honduran Crisis

Common sense has been agonizingly slow to descend on the Honduran crisis, but it seems to have arrived in the form of Nobel laureate and Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. He is a democrat with very clear ideas, but although Hillary Clinton helped arrange for him to mediate the Honduran dispute, he will not be Washington's or anyone's tool.

Arias is no novice when it comes to resisting outside pressure. In the 1980s, during the last stages of the Cold War, he stood up to Reagan's government and created the conditions for Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans -- then embroiled in a shooting confrontation -- to negotiate peace. Yes, he had help from outside circumstances: perestroika, Soviet fatigue, and anti-Sandinista guerrillas. But he deserves the main credit for those accords, as the Nobel committee noted when awarding him the Peace prize.

This task seems simpler at first glance, but Arias should travel to Honduras to talk to other principal actors to get a clearer picture of the situation. Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti have had 30 years of friendship and only eight months of growing disagreement. Their families have maintained a cordial relationship. They are two businessmen who are devoted to politics, not two obdurate ideologues. They belong to the same party. In late 2008, Zelaya even endorsed Micheletti's candidacy within the Liberal Party so that Micheletti might succeed him in the presidency.

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July 2, 2009 12:37 PM

Preventing a Honduran Bloodbath

The United States Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, an extremely competent diplomat, tried very hard to keep Honduras's Congress from ousting President Manuel Zelaya. After his arguments and pressures were exhausted, and faced with something that seemed inevitable, he did what he could: he sheltered the president's son at his residence to save him from any violent outcome.

Fortunately, Zelaya's expulsion from the presidency and from his country was bloodless. It wasn't exactly a military coup: the Army acted on orders from the Supreme Court after Zelaya's continued violations of the law. The ousted president seemed intent on getting reelected, even if it meant violating the Constitution, and on dragging the nation into Hugo Chávez's "21st century socialism" camp against the will of the Honduran people.

Nevertheless, if there is still something worse than the depressing spectacle of a freely elected president forced to leave his country at gunpoint, it is that same leader trying to force his way back in. If Zelaya returns, he will be arrested and charged with an array of crimes. His imprisonment will embarrass any who decide, irresponsibly, to accompany him on such a mad adventure.

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June 24, 2009 11:13 AM

Iranians Deserve Our Solidarity

The Current Discussion: Are we witnessing a pro-regime coup in Iran? What should the world do in response? How will the election aftermath affect Iran's projection of power into the Middle East?

Of course Democrats worldwide must support those in Iran who are trying to expand their freedoms. There are three very important reasons to give them that support:

(1) If Iran evolves toward a political system that is more open and secular, the danger of international war is reduced. That can happen without the need for Iran to stop being an Islamic nation, as happens in Turkey, a country that does not threaten its neighbors and is an international factor whose behavior is consistently constructive.

(2) If the non-fanatical sector triumphs in Iran, it will bring an end to Tehran's support to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, which not only acts against Israel but also has attacked innocent civilian objectives in Madrid and Buenos Aires. The United States estimates Iranian support for Hezbollah to be about $100 million a year.

(3) The Iranians who have taken to the streets to protest expect solidarity from the free world. Failure to give them that solidarity, even if only on a moral plane, would be like telling the retrograde forces of the religious fanatics that they can do anything they wish against a people pleading for freedom because nobody really cares.

It is important for the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, i.e., the world's great democracies, to emphatically support the Iranians who ask for freedoms, not only through their governments but also through the public pressure from political parties, labor unions and the rest of the organizations in their civil societies. It is not a question of artificially feeding a conflict but of supporting the sector that's ethically attune to the West. Not to do so would be a shameful moral abdication.

June 15, 2009 3:37 PM

Oppose the Ruling Clique

The Current Discussion: Are we witnessing a pro-regime coup in Iran? What should the world do in response? How will the election aftermath affect Iran's projection of power into the Middle East?

We're probably looking at a gigantic electoral fraud committed in Iran, but that's not the core of the problem. Even if Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the elections fairly, his regime would continue to be an execrable tyranny. Democracy is a way to make collective decisions, but those decisions can be profoundly immoral and contrary to freedom, so there's no reason to accept them as legitimate.

Iran is ruled by a clique that -- in the name of certain religious prejudices -- oppresses women, persecutes homosexuals, fans ethnic hatred, attempts to destroy other states, as happens to Israel, practices terrorism and threatens its neighbors with developing nuclear weapons. As long as Iran and other countries (including Saudi Arabia) walk this line, the prudent course of action is to oppose them and develop a stout defensive strategy against their actions. Any other behavior is a perverse irresponsibility.

June 4, 2009 11:44 AM

United States, Banana Republic

The United States' economy will regain the world's confidence when its government (first Bush, now Obama) stops behaving like a banana republic.

When it behaves responsibly in fiscal affairs. When it ceases to print currency without a parallel increase in production. When it no longer interferes in the market with arbitrary rescue operations to bail out companies, like General Motors, that are condemned to disappear because of the rejection of consumers, the pigheadedness of labor unions, and the insensitive stupidity of management.

In sum, when it follows the prescriptions of the Washington Consensus that the technicians at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund used to recommend to Third World nations that had undergone financial crises. The worst kind of hypocrisy is to preach one thing and do something completely different.

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May 22, 2009 11:59 AM

Newspapers: Victims of Their Own Success

The Current Discussion: American newspapers are in dire financial straits. How are newspapers faring where you are? Are you concerned about the future of journalism in America or in your own country? What does that future look like?

In Spain, the conventional press has two formidable enemies: the daily tabloids that are handed out, free, almost everywhere, and the Internet. Therefore, most of the printed dailies lose money or have seen their revenues drop.

It seems like only a matter of time before newspapers disappear or take refuge in the Internet -- those that survive, that is. Today, the most widely read Spanish-language newspaper is the digital version of El Mundo; its parent print edition continues to lose large sums of money.

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April 15, 2009 12:00 PM

Obama: Be Patient on Cuba

The Current Discussion: The U.S. will lift travel restrictions on Cuba, but leave the larger trade embargo in place. Is that a smart move? Does it go far enough? Too far?

President Obama has done well by eliminating the restrictions on Cuban-Americans' travel to the island and on the remittances they can send. It is an intelligent political gesture that indicates that Washington would look with interest on a response from the Cuban government that contained some measure of aperture.

Those restrictions had been imposed upon the Cuban dictatorship in 2004 after the repressive spasm of spring 2003, when 75 peaceful dissidents were imprisoned and sentenced to long terms (up to 28 years) for crimes such as lending forbidden books, writing accounts about the Cuban reality in foreign newspapers, and requesting a referendum to ascertain the political preferences of society.

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February 9, 2009 1:30 PM

"Couscous": Pursuing the French Dream

The Current Discussion: The Academy Awards are coming, and an Indian movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," could win best picture. But what are we overlooking? What's the best non-Hollywood movie you saw this year?

"Couscous," a French film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, is probably the best non-Hollywood movie of this year. The story deals with Arab immigrants in France and their pursuit of the "French dream." The acting is superb. All in all, "Couscous" is incredible. It is as good as "Slumdog Millionaire."

January 12, 2009 2:00 PM

Gaza's True 'Disproportion'

The Current Discussion: What's the most likely outcome of Israel's invasion of Gaza? A wider war? A Hamas defeat? Just more of the same?

Israelis are being accused of suffering too few casualties in their confrontation with the Hamas terrorists. Those who reason thus usually speak the words "disproportion" or "asymmetry" in an indignant tone. While at this writing close to a thousand Arab Palestinians have died or been wounded as a result of the bombings, the Israeli losses amount to just over a dozen.

Tel Aviv's critics -- from whom an anti-Semitic stench often rises -- do not say whether Israel should increase its quota of cadavers or if it must reduce the Arabs' quota to achieve the reasonable proportion of blood that will soothe the peculiar itch for parity that afflicts them. Nor do they specify the morally permissible number of casualties to end the rain of rockets that for years has been constantly falling on the heads of Israeli civilians.

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November 24, 2008 12:17 PM

Recession Will Strike Latin America, Chavez

The bad news is that the crisis will severely impact Latin America for four reasons:

1) A substantial decrease in the price of raw materials
(oil, gas, copper, soy.)

2) A reduction in foreign investment in the

3) An increase in protectionism in the U.S. and Europe.

4) A
diminution in remittances by emigrants.

The good news is that Hugo Chávez will lose a great deal of his ability to intervene in his
neighbors' affairs, and will be forced to apply the brakes on the mad arms race to which he seemed dedicated.

The weakest country facing the current crisis is perhaps Ecuador, a country that will enter, in the second quarter of 2009, into a sort of generalized bankruptcy. As an additional consequence of the crisis it is very likely that power will shift to the center right in the next elections in Chile, Brazil and Uruguay.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.