“TFP Newsletter, Vol. IV – No. 5 – 1984 (www.tfp.org)
TFP Clarifies the Issues
During the recent elections in
The election results, greatly influenced by a series of public statements by the Ecuadorian TFP, vague declarations by the country's Catholic hierarchy and surprising facts about the leftist candidate, amazed everyone: The left suffered a stunning defeat.
In the months preceding the first round in the election process, the coalition of parties for the center-right Front for National Reconstruction (FNR), headed by Leon Febres Cordero Rivadeneira, a self-made millionaire, showed itself almost entirely void of any ideological basis.
On the other side, was Rodrigo Borja Cevellos and the Democratic Left Party (DL) whose vague socialist programs called for the use of government resources and self-managing policies to solve social and economic problems.
All the political analysts predicted that Cordero and the FNR would win the first round by a small margin but that Borja and the Democratic Left, aided by a massive advertising campaign would win the second and final round. The outcome looked even darker for the FNR when Cordero finished second to Borja in the first round by a wide margin.
Shortly before the final round of voting began, the Ecuadorian TFP, sensing the need to clarify the ideological issues at stake, published the three-page declaration "Ecuador At a Crossroads" in El Comercio and El Universo [January 26, 1984], the country's leading newspapers. A shortened version of the same declaration was later published in nine other newspapers across the country.
The manifesto raised the ideological problem inherent in the leftist candidate's position and showed the country the communist abyss toward which it was being led.
It was evident that until this publication, the general public did not see the danger that Borja represented for anticommunists or for religion.
To this was added the predominating factor of the silence of most of the Sacred Hierarchy about, and the open support of certain ecclesiastical sectors for, the DL.
The TFP statement noted that in the past few years not a single pronouncement from the Ecuadorian Hierarchy had been heard alerting the faithful specifically and unequivocally to the socialist menace in the country. On the contrary, it pointed out that several declarations by the nation's Bishops had been, to say the least, questionable. The document observed that while the Cardinal Archbishop of Quito had recently declared "one of the most important matters (for Catholics) was the fulfillment of the obligation to vote" and that they could not vote for "the parties which propose, for example, to deny religion its place in public life," it was quite unclear as to what party he was alluding.
The TFP statement asked: "Were the Bishops referring to the Democratic Left?" It is possible that they were... but it is beyond question that it was not an unequivocal reference. The document added: "... what good does it do to affirm that to vote in an election is an obligation whose motives are derived from the Faith, if one does not point out the risk of an anti-Christian current taking power?" The TFP further noted that when the Bishops affirm that the Church plans to "stimulate the elaboration of alternatives for a Christian renewal of economic, social and political structures by overcoming the vices of the liberal capitalist system and the temptation of the Marxist system" this could in no way be harmful to a socialism that is frequently presented as the alternative to capitalism and communism... and whose Marxist character goes unnoticed.
Just before the publication of the TFP document, Borja had reassured the Bishops' Conference and Catholic public opinion in general, that he would not introduce abortion and that the State would continue to subsidize Catholic education.
In response to these remarks, the TFP published a timely article asking, "What confidence should be placed in the comments of Borja, especially since they come from someone who, in a publication a few years ago, referred to the Catholic Church as a 'sect,' accusing Her of fanaticism, advocating Her total subjection to the State and affirming that the liberty She enjoyed is a concession conferred by the State"? (Political and Constitutional Law, Rodrigo Borja, pgs. 97-102).
The TFP article stated that it was not enough for such an individual to now make some innocuous affirmations. Rather, it was necessary for him to retract the errors which he had affirmed and acknowledge the legitimacy of the institutions and principles that he had so virulently attacked.
In a nationally televised debate between the two candidates, Cordero, the FNR candidate, began to show the influence of the argumentation of the TFP in his statements, eg. the DL's membership in the Socialist International, its totalitarian character and opposition to private property and the fact that Borja, while trying to reassure industrialists, was at the same time attacking the right to private property in his writings. The coup de grace during the debate came when Cordero demanded that Borja explain his statements classifying the Church as a sect. The leftist candidate was non-plussed.
The impact of the TFP campaign was such that the Popular Democracy Party, the party of the Government and a sympathizer of the DL, accused the TFP of meddling in politics. However, both the newspapers and radio stations rebutted this, saying that two ideological concepts were beginning to become clear for the country to decide upon: totalitarianism or free enterprise.
Two days before the election, El Universo and El Comercio published a half-page advertisement in which over one hundred priests, including several monsignors from the Archdiocese of Quito, applauded the position of the TFP as being in accord with Catholic doctrine.
The city of Quito was a supposed stronghold of Borja, and its Archbishop had declared: "...that the Sacred Hierarchy had neither supported nor vetoed any candidate" and that the Church only does this when the ideology or programs of these groups include some persecution of the Church or deny Her freedom to act in Her own field. Apparently, the Archbishop had not read Borja's statements.
In the end, the Front for National Reconstruction won the election by over 100,000 votes. In the innumerable commentaries following the election, most observers said that the principal causes of victory and defeat were the ideological anticommunist and antireligious campaigns.
For example, El Telegrafo of
Following the election, the TFP issued a press release stating, "The TFP has the joy to note that the results of the recent election eloquently express the fact that the nation has opened its eyes to the very grave threat of the socialist offensive. It was feared that, due to misinformation, socialism would win. Nevertheless, after a short but clarifying controversy that clearly showed the proposals of the leftist currents to be contrary to the traditional socio-economic doctrine of the Church, the mature reflection of the Catholic Ecuadorian people pushed the country decisively away from the Marxist abyss.
"The TFP expresses its satisfaction, giving thanks to the Most Holy Virgin of Good Success, and asks that She continue to provide Her maternal and unfathomable protection since, even though the defeat inflicted on socialism removes it from power, it persists in its resolve to drive the nation toward the regime longed for by Marx."