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Oscar Haupt: Another perspective on socialism

I am writing in response to an opinion page column published by The Spokesman-Review titled “Socialism from an immigrant’s perspective.” The author, Doris Campoverde, talked about her Ecuadorian roots and her view about her experience in South America.

I am also an immigrant. I was born and lived in Chile until I was 21 years old. I completed my high school and college education in Chile before I came to the United States.

She describes “socialism” in countries like Cuba and Venezuela. She confuses “the Cuban and Venezuelan form of socialism” with authoritarianism. I believe that those are not socialist governments, but authoritarian governments. I remember Fidel Castro visiting Chile in the early 1970s and embracing the teachings of Karl Marx. Marx is known for writing the famous pamphlet commonly known as “The Communist Manifesto.” He was not a socialist, but a communist.

If she wants to talk about the experience in South America, she forgot to mention the experiences in countries like Chile, Argentina and Paraguay, just to mention a few. Those were also authoritarian forms of governments but not “socialist” governments. They were as brutal as the current government in Venezuela, and Cuba in the past.

I endured the regime of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. His regime hid behind a capitalistic banner while killing over 3,000 of my fellow citizens. Milton Friedman, who was best known for his strong belief in free-market capitalism, was a hero among Pinochet’s supporters. Should we now fear capitalism because Pinochet’s regime was brutal? If we use the same rationale that she uses, we should fear capitalism.

Throughout her column, Mrs. Campoverde talks about “socialism” taking away the freedom of the people. Socialism does not take away the freedom of anyone. What takes away freedom is authoritarian governments. I believe that it does not matter whether they hide behind socialism or capitalism. They are both wrong in my mind.

It is interesting that she didn’t talk about the “socialist” nations in Europe.

We have great examples of progressive societies that have accomplished greater equality and contentment – a lot more equality and contentment than countries around our region. Socialism is a theory that advocates for more “equality and regulation by the community as a whole.”

I came to this country as a young man. I also had dreams and was looking for the values that the United States of America stands for. I believe that bringing new ideas, sharing my history and getting involved in my community is part of what attracted me to this country. I also believe it is my obligation to seek change when change is needed. I embraced the language, the culture and the ideas, but I did not forget about who I am.

When I became an American citizen two years ago, I remember the judge asking all of the new citizens to never stop doing three things:

— To keep embracing where we came from, our unique roots.

— To teach and share with our community our culture, including our music, our food, our history, etc.

— To vote in every election and not to let the government take away that right.

It is concerning to see a column that only focuses on a couple of examples. We can all have our own opinion, but we should consider and accept facts. It appears that one of the points that Mrs. Campoverde tried to make was the “dangerous views of Lisa Brown.” Lisa Brown’s views are her views and she will have to explain them to the voters.

My purpose here is not to endorse any candidate nor to endorse a political position. We can find compelling arguments for socialism as well as capitalism but at the end, they are not perfect. I just want the people of my community to endeavor to learn all the facts and not just a select few that only instill fear in the community that I love.

Oscar Haupt lives in Greenacres. He has lived in the Spokane area since 1993.


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