Peru's Alan Garcia — the socialist who came to recognize what socialism does to a country: RIP

With many Millennials viewing money as free and unlimited, socialism is experiencing a recrudescence of sorts in the U.S., and many are now flocking to avowedly socialist leaders such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  They're the ones following in the footsteps of President Obama, who most assuredly was an undeclared socialist, differing only in their willingness to admit it up front.  Not surprisingly, they are either expressing solidarity or refusing to condemn fellow socialists such as Venezuela's dictator, Nicolás Maduro.  Socialists stick together. 

But the demise of Peru's former president, Alan Garcia, who committed suicide yesterday over a corruption investigation, tells a different kind of story.  His life was a cautionary tale about the wages of socialism.  And for us, the whole thing is sad because Garcia had been a socialist as loud and upfront about it as Sanders, or Ocasio-Cortez, but unlike them, he recognized the failure of socialism and made a full U-turn toward free markets when he got a chance to be president again in 2006.

Way back in the 1980s, Garcia was a disastrous socialist president in Peru, loudly, revoltingly anti-American and the bane of President Reagan's existence at the time.  He made a hash of Peru's economy, with a bank collapse, hyperinflation, poverty, starvation, and a monstrous Marxist narco-terrorist uprising the direct result of his socialism.  It's close to the same picture we see in Venezuela now, except that Garcia never destroyed the actual democracy of Peru, which was why Peruvians were able to elect someone better.  The Peruvians were traumatized and brutalized by Garcia's first socialist presidency.  I was surprised as hell he got elected again in 2006, given what his socialism did to those people.  But unlike, say, Maduro, or Sanders, Garcia really did persuade them he had changed.  He actually did end up recognizing the error of his socialist ways after his term in power — and then turned hard to free markets when he got his second term as president.

And the result was night and day.

According to Bloomberg, which has the best report on this:

"He was chastened by his experiences in his first term, the difficulties of trying to challenge market economics.  He saw the tremendous opportunity for a country that was open to investment in sectors like mining.''

No Latin American economy grew more than Peru since 2001 to 2010, with GDP jumping 73 percent, thanks to a commodities boom that spurred construction of new mines and turned Peru into the second-biggest copper producer.  Under Garcia, Peru created 2.5 million jobs and increased annual per capita GDP by 54 percent.

He took the decision to move full speed ahead with projects to develop Peru's natural resources, taking a dim view on opposition by local communities.

Garcia oversaw the signing of free trade agreements with China and the European Union, while forging close ties with regional leaders, including Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.  Garcia proposed the creation of a free trade area between Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico in 2011, which later became known as the Pacific Alliance.

When Garcia left office for the last time, he had a 42 percent approval rating — exceptionally good by the nation's standards.

His result was Trumpian.  Prior to that, his result was Maduro-ian.

And he knew it. 

What's more, he made Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez's life hell, repeatedly, during that second term, knowing full well firsthand where Chávez's vile socialism would lead.

Can you imagine an old foof such as Bernie Sanders ever coming to the realization about the error of his ways?  Would a President Bernie be more like Maduro, digging in to preserve his wealth and power no matter what the consequences to the people, or like Garcia — changing his ways when he realized how destructive socialism was and always will be?  Somehow, I see Bernie in the Maduro category.

But Garcia's demise should remind everyone else that socialism fails every time you try it — and only the most humane of socialists come to this realization.

Alan Garcia was one of them.  RIP.

Image credit: Gobierno de Chile, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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