Miriam Leitao at PostGlobal

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. She is also a commentator on Globo TV Network and runs her own blog, www.miriamleitao.com, hosted at Globo online at www.oglobo.com.br. She was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 2005. Close.

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. more »

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The Current Discussion: Australians are voting online for a "Word of the Year" from a list of new words to be included in the dictionary: among the frontrunners, "Chindia", "globesity," and "password fatigue." Create your favorite new word of the year that tells us something about trends in your country.

Past-iology – noun; a political view entirely dominated by the past and incapable of looking ahead. A pathology spreading now in Latin America, spearheaded by the leader of the pastiologism: Hugo Chavez. To understand more about the syndrome, read the story below.

Oliver Stone parachuted into South America several weeks ago as if he was rescuing the Truth, captive in a new kind of Vietnam. He was welcomed by a man dressed in an olive green military jacket and a red beret. The famous film director then told the press what he was doing in the middle of the Venezuelan-Colombian jungle this Christmas Eve: he wanted to prove that a group that had kidnapped more than 700 people was, in fact, no more than “some peasants fighting for more decent lives”.

Hugo Chavez, the red-beret man who proudly presented Stone to the press, seemed to have found his “revolution” outfit at a special online shop that boasted being able to satisfy “all your revolutionary needs”. He pretends to be a commander of an undeclared war against imaginary enemies. On that particular day, Chavez was trying to free three hostages from guerrilla hands, but he was supporting the kidnappers as if they were heroes.

The scene was a perfect flashback to the 1960s. All the main characters acted and talked with the sixties phrases, words and mannerisms – even the Brazilian representative, who wore a cliché Panama hat to enhance the “Latino” look. Some of those involved in this so-called “Emmanuel Operation” (to rescue a boy born in captivity named Emmanuel) seemed to be affected by a disease currently spreading over Latin America: “pastiology”. The main symptoms of this ideological malaise are: behaving as if the past is not gone; believing in the old-fashioned ideas of revolutionary guerrillas fighting against dictatorships that were defeated two decades ago; supporting a political and economic agenda that can be seen only in the rear-view mirror.

In Brazil there are only mild symptoms of this infirmity. Some authorities here are trapped in the past. They are making their best effort to impose the economic side of the rear-view mirror agenda: state-led development.

Hugo Chavez has been infected with the most severe form of the disease. It affects the brain and the infected person starts acting as though he were a famous dead icon. During moderate surges of “pastiology”, Chavez thinks he is a new “Che” Guevara; at its worst, he acts as if he is a reincarnation of Simon Bolivar.

As a Simon Bolivar redux, he made a Fidel Castro-style four-hour speech to the opposition-free Venezuelan Congress. There, he said that the terrorist group FARC is not a terrorist group, but an army of “insurgents”, like himself, who have been fighting against… nobody knows. The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia has been kidnapping, torturing, killing thousands of people, mostly civilians, and receiving funding from drug dealers since 1964. For those who are affected by “pastiology,” FARC has been considered a terrorist group only as an “imposition” from the United States’ government. They never mention FARC’s atrocities. For them, FARC is only a naive group of peasants fighting for more decent lives.

The “Emmanuel Operation” failed because the terrorist group lied about having the boy Emmanuel still in their hands. Oliver Stone had to go back home with his platoon of assistants, without his documentary, but showing clear signs of “pastiologism”. He ignored all the reasonable doubts and supported the Colombian terrorists. However the two victims, freed from years of captivity by the FARC, were the ones who actually rescued Truth by showing that the FARC is today no more than a band of criminals.

The whole story was a buffo comedy played by bad actors. The screens of Latin American cinemas are still showing recently produced movies of this same genre, making the happiness of those inflicted by “pastiology”. Fortunately the majority of Latin Americans would rather see a Latino version of “Back to the Future”.

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» Danilo | The worst thing, Miriam, is that the international press has been dealing with this pastiology with unacceptable tolerance, as if it was a n...
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