The most common mistake of Latin American politicians is following the desire for utopias

The utopian impulse is to "refound" countries rather than reform them, expressed in new constitutions or the disqualification of political opponents. It is often at odds with the more modest but achievable goals of good governance and steady progress.

In his satire "Utopia," published in 1516, Thomas More was careful not to specify an exact location for his imaginary island with its perfect society. However, the reader learns that it was located off the coast of Brazil. That is no coincidence.

The idea of utopia may be universal, but since Columbus and the Europeans' encounter with America, which took place not long before More's satire was written, it has had a particular association with Latin America.

This association was nourished by the myths of El Dorado and the Amazons, by tales of the mighty civilizations of ancient Mexico . . .

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