Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Google


A nuclear power invades a small, sovereign nation. The world is witness to this unjust war, minute-by-minute, image-after-image: relentless bombardments against the civilian population, harrowing testimonies, mass exoduses, scenes of indescribable pain.

That alone should arouse unanimous repudiation of the aggressor and unrestricted support for the victim. But that is not the case.

A current of the Latin American and Mexican left has adopted the “narrative” of the aggressor. What happened to these countries’ moral conscience?

To gauge this present degradation, it is important to understand these nations’ past attitude, and compare them. And there is a helpful testimonial to do so. I am referring to the book “A Journey to the World of the Future,” published by Vicente Lombardo Toledano after his stay in the USSR in 1935. Based on Soviet sources, Lombardo postulated the superiority of the communist system over the West. From that premise — very typical of that time when the Russian Revolution retained its redeeming aura — the content emerged: assumedly sincere propaganda, but pure and simple propaganda none the less.

In Lombardo’s vision, forced collectivization had been difficult due to the conservative mentality of the peasants: “They even burned their pastures and their crops, destroyed their rudimentary plows, killed their cattle, incited by a thousand ideas and a thousand cunning procedures and skillful of the kulaks (individual owners like them, but larger) … who took advantage of their ignorance,” To top it off, there was the problem of the “old and very backward nationalities,” an attachment to the language, tradition, customs, particularly deep in Ukraine. Those “nations formerly oppressed by tsarism” could not be given “the simple freedom to live the life they wanted … without having first received a political culture, without having raised their harmonious spirit and level.” What to do to emancipate them from themselves?

Fortunately, Joseph Stalin had devised the solution: a sudden and structural change that Lombardo summed up in one line: “liquidation of the problem of the kulaks” and “material success-” And now, yes, “in (Ukrainian) towns like Kharkov, the new life is applauded and lived with interest and conviction … an adherence … with communism … that vibrates and manifest at every moment.”

Lombardo Toledano saw, or thought he saw, or wanted to see, or imagined he saw all this.

The reality was different. The reality was that of the great famine of the winter of 1932-1933, which Stalin orchestrated to seize Ukraine’s grain and bring it into submission. It was carried out with Soviet police units in various ways, including, of course, mass murder. A total of 3.3 million Ukrainians died. That famine consolidated the Ukrainian nationality.

Lombardo Toledano legitimized a criminal regime with his book. But between him and reality there was at least one universal ideology. And, like many Russians today, he was likely unaware of the Ukraine facts.

That is not the case with Latin America’s modern left. What explains their attitude? Their attachment is not ideological, like Lombardo’s. They know full well that Vladimir Putin is anti-communist and even tsarist. Nor can they claim misinformation or ignorance of the facts: The horrors in Ukraine are there for all to see.

These Russian supporters invent farfetched excuses, claiming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (the son of Jews exterminated in the Holocaust) is a puppet of the Nazis. Are they really that gullible or are they corroded by bad faith? They justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine out of respect for geopolitical spheres. Have they forgotten the wars that the United States unleashed on Latin America, inspired by Manifest Destiny? So what’s really up?

What there is is the enthusiastic acceptance of a narrative that exalts the strong man over the laws, institutions and freedoms of liberal democracy. Planted in part by Russian networks, this position has found fertile soil in the warlordism of our nations. And not only in them. Living in the West subverting the foundations of the West is the new trend.

It does not matter that this adhesion implies endorsing the return of Stalinist terror. It does not matter that the leader who is now being worshiped bears similarities to the genocidal Nazi who inflamed the Mexican and Latin American right wings, with his imperialist quest for a Lebensraum, his plans for ethnic purification, his hatred of “cosmopolitanism” and his absolute contempt for human life.

The members of the left who remain insensitive to pain and heroism and, on the contrary, admire Putin, have betrayed the last remnants of their own moral legacy. They have embraced the two totalitarian branches of the 20th century.

The above article first appeared in Reforma and is being republished in Pulse News Mexico with express prior permission.

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