Cultural Revolutions

Whose Man in Haiti?

Whose man is in Haiti? He was 40ish, of medium height, powerfully built on the way to being stout, and with an obvious gift of speech—he overrode his listeners, particularly since they were in their early and late 20's. He was Leslie Manigat, the place was Caracas, and I was a guest lecturer and full-time participant at the two-week conference of the young Christian-Democrat and Christian-Socialist militants from all of South and Central America. I never believed in Christian-whatever political parties, as in time the first adjective wears off and the second turns aggressive: socialist, democrat, liberal, Marxist, national, what have you. But there we were, guests in one of the headquarters of the Christian-Democratic party of Venezuela's President Caldera. The delegates, about 25 of them, were brilliant and politically cultured, with their hearts in militancy and Christ's kingdom.

The time is also interesting to specify: early July 1973, just two months away from the fall of AUende, the idol of most participants, especially of the charming Marxist Catholic from Chile, the youngest of the group and the most fervent to convert me to his political creed. Don't even try, I said. I had been to Chile in 1966, the Jesuits were redder than Lenin, and President Eduardo Frei counted himself, with Maritain and Saul Alinsky (!), as the last revolutionary. From the start, the Caracas gathering struck a decidedly leftist...

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