Democracy above all: Can we take cue from LA experience?

Nepal seems to have been stuck in the peace process of doing away with the remnants of the decade-old Maoist insurgency, The process of writing the constitution and the adjustment and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants are held up for want of political consensus signaling a near collapse of the peace process. The divergence of the views of the main political parties on crucial issues like the form of government, electoral system and state restructuring, projects

their preference of politics over the interest of the people at large. If their goal is to attain the welfare of the people, it will not be a tedious task to overcome. If the dignity of citizens is accepted as paramount holding democracy above all, no problem will remain to be solved. It is always better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.

With the legacy of insurgency continuing, and the old mindset of dependence on arms not yet eliminated, the old memory can only be erased from the mind of the victims and the insurgents with their firm adherence to the peaceful method of dialogue and consensus setting aside their politics. The turn-around of the mind of the revolutionaries in Latin American countries who denounced arms to adopt a democratic way of life can be an eye-opener for our leaders. In Latin America (LA), almost all major armed guerrilla groups, except the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), have now started treading the path of democracy. Democracies have been reborn there in the 1980s after the end of military dictatorships. The roots of guerrilla warfare can be traced back to the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro in January 1959. It was a period when some young idealist revolutionaries took up arms to change the status quo and established utopian socialist states in the1960s and 70s. They assassinated, kidnapped and killed people in authority and robbed banks for their ideology. Some of them were killed, thrown into sea from planes, jailed, tortured, exiled or simply made to “disappear”, as an Argentine general put it in a kind of magical realism, “They are not alive, nor dead, but have just disappeared.. Revolutionary icons like Che Guevara was killed, but a few like Jose Mojica of Uruguay were lucky to survive the bullets and had a second lease of life to come to power through the ballot.

. Jose Mujica, the former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla fighter, has now been elected as President of Uruguay on November 29, 2009. He was in jail for 14 years (including two years in the bottom of a dry well) from 1969 to 1985, and he was freed under a general amnesty after democracy was restored in 1985. After his release, he, along with his comrades, founded a new political party, Movement of Popular Participation. It participated in the 1994 election and became the largest component of the center-left Frente Amplio coalition, the first leftist government in Uruguay’s history. He was not only made Minister of Agriculture in President Tabare Vazquez-led government, but was also nominated in 2009 elections as the coalition candidate for the presidency and won with 53 percent votes.

The previous government that functioned for five years was popular for its Inclusive Development Agenda and market-friendly policies.. He has promised to continue the pragmatic policies with an assurance to follow President Lula of Brazil, the role model for the Latin American leftists. In his election campaign, he vowed to distance the Left from “the stupid ideologies that come from the 1970s-I refer to things like unconditional love of everything that is State-run, scorn for businessmen and intrinsic hate of the United States”.

Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua was another guerrilla leader who became president after winning the elections in 1984, and was president from1985 to 1990. After losing election in 2006, he is the current president. He participated in the Sandinista movement that waged an armed struggle and overthrew the Somoza dictatorship.

Dilma Rousseff was a member of a clandestine Brazilian guerrilla group, now the chief of staff of President Lula. She is the set candidate for the October 2010 elections. She was in jail between 1970 and 1972. After her release, she took to politics and started working with Lula in the Workers Party. Nilda Garre, the Defence Minister of Argentina, participated in the militant leftist movement of Montoneros against the military dictatorship. She is now the boss of the Generals.

Ali Rodriguez Araque, the Finance Minister of Venezuela, being the last guerrilla fighters to put down arms, was known as “Coommander Fausto”. After the Sate pardon, he took to parliamentary politics. Alvaro Garcia Linera, the vice president of Bolivia, was a cofounder of the

insurgent Tupak Katari Guerrilla Army. While

in imprisonment for insurrection and terrorism, he studied sociology and became a university professor after his release from prison. These are some instances

of change in the mindset of the armed groups opting for a democratic transformation for the betterment of their societies.

Prof. Mishra currently associated with Civil Campaign for Democracy