By Isabel M. Estrada Portales
A Poll on People´s Human Rights, Seriously?
“I want to read the powerful words of the Bible. I need the unreal force of their poetry. I need it against the dilapidation of the language and the dictatorship of slogans… But there is also another world I don´t want to live in: the world where the body and independent thought are disparaged, and the best things we can experience are denounced as sins.” Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel, Pascal Mercier
“There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.” James Joyce
Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, is a true disciple of the Catholic Church. They are with the poor in the Robin Hood fashion, except when the poor – be it indigenous, be it land invaders, begin to ask questions. They will even provide for the poor and even create visible, politically expedient change that can propel an election result or fill up a Sunday mass. And in that, Rafael Correa and the Catholic Church are somewhat leftist.
In everything else they are also very similar. They believe in their own precepts and are convinced those should be imposed on the rest of us. And they don´t believe in the immense diversity of the human experience; nor in the Creation of their own God who, despite his infinite wisdom and compassion, apparently made gays and lesbians so that they can be perennial victims of scorn and suffering, self loathing and societal despise.
Correa is the dream of the most reactionary corners of the Latin American church: someone who, apparently from the left, is willing to uphold every church prejudice and misguided belief. So, the same church that hated Fidel Castro, and loved Videla and Franco, can now overtly proclaim its love for a “radical leftist” president. As Adriana Amado said, revolutions are coming more conservative every time.
A popular poll on the rights of LGBT people is akin to a poll on indigenous rights, or blacks´ rights. Why don´t we take a poll in Saudi Arabia about women´s right to vote right now? Not in 2015 when women will finally have the right to vote. Human rights cannot be settled by polls or by popular opinion. We may still have slavery in the United States if we had taken a poll on that one.
Rafael Correa said, quite knowingly and with the conviction that brings the understanding of the depth of the prejudice: “well, let´s take a poll in the next election and see if it is just my own dogmas and prejudices.” He knows his prejudices and dogmas are with those of the majority of the Ecuadorian people, in the willingness to squash the rights of a minority. But he also knows better. Public opinion moves slowly in issues of values and mores. True leaders try to lead towards equality instead of exploiting people´s prejudice to further inequity, and iniquity. Or was Correa and Alianza País not campaigning their hearts out to promote their views and get the results they wanted in the last popular poll?
When Correa says he admires the LGBT community´s fight, what is it he admires exactly? Their fight to attain rights he has no intention to neither afford them, nor even believes they have them?
Regardless of his doctrinaire beliefs, telling a gay man he had a right to marry a woman was simply shameful and painful. It was also unnecessary to convey the point, and rightfully brought about the uproar in the Twitterverse. Just imagine if he had said, before 1929, to an Ecuadorian woman demanding her rights: “yes, you do have the constitutional right to do whatever your husband tells you.” I´m sure it would have been hilarious.
There is also his firm statement that he “will never accept” changing sex for gender in the identity document. So, if by a miracle, the National Assembly went rogue and approves the change, Rafael Correa would veto it. Are not the members of the Assembly the direct representatives of the people? That would be a popular poll of sorts, wouldn´t it?
Traditionally, according to the right, those of us who oppose war are just naïve, and the Sierra Club people are just silly environmentalists. Correa uses the same tactic: if you disagree with his way of thinking, you are not merely differing; you are infantile, stupid, not a smart person. Basically, there is only one mature and right way of being progressive and revolutionary: you have to think like Correa… in everything.
His divided position is actually admirable. He believes in economic fairness, me too, and in a single moral and value view, me either (as Dali would say of Picasso: he is a painter, me too; he is a communist, me either.) This is not sarcasm on my part. I respect the fact that people are complex and have variegated, multiple, even conflicting views…If only Rafael Correa could afford others that same consideration and realize that, yes, revolutionaries and progressives come in many shades of grey – is that too sexual a reference? Yes, there has been a pacifist, progressive, leftist, feminist, pro LGBT, antiracist, radically environmentalist movement that is also anticlerical – in people like me – or merely anti the intrusion of the churches/mosques/synagogues/temples of any stripe in their lives and in a secular society´s policies. There also have been a myriad of combinations of those categories – and the list is by no means exhaustive – and all of them deserve respect.
Correa mocked the left – or “good” revolutionaries – as people who are pro-abortion, pro gay marriage, anticlerical, infantile ecologist, and infantile indigenous advocates.
He claims the mantle of the left, and so do I. The fact that we disagree in some matters does not exclude either of us from a leftist view on social issues. Per his own admission, Señor Presidente – yes, slight allusion to Asturias here – in a lot of the causes the left has historically espoused and advanced in terms of extending liberties and rights to minorities and majorities alike, Correa is squarely on the right. The idea that he then gets to define who is not “buen” revolutionary is rather ghastly.