As much as reading is a passion of mine, books in English are expensive in Peru and I can’t rely on the postal system that has already lost two of my packages in the past. So when my aunt said that she could bring me something on her trip to South America last year, I chose carefully.I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Dr. Vincent Tufano’s book, Empires of Gold!
Not only does the historical fiction cover centuries of Peruvian history, but the characters are also richly developed. Don Miguel Sandoval, the principal character, was the most flavorful of them all. I admired how he protected and maintained peace in his valley, despite using methods that may be considered controversial these days:
- Monitoring the land and dealing out punishment to those who did bad (e.g., abusive landowners who mistreated their Indian peons).
- Preventing people from doing bad (e.g., a Catholic priest sexually abusing minors) by threatening with assassination.
- Using compassion or bribery to create loyalty and do good (e.g., political favors to make sure foreign corporations wouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of his land as a source of gold).
In my land of democracy, I often find it hard to imagine how a dictator with all-encompassing authority can be good without being corrupted by power. Nevertheless, Don Miguel’s character reminds me of the benevolent dictator Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore and the longest serving in history. They say it’s because of him that Singapore is now known for its racial harmony, cleanliness, low homelessness rate, and low unemployment rate.
“It’s a dictatorship with free speech, no fear, and no corruption.” — Donella Meadows Archive.
What went on in the background? School corporal punishment and judicial caning for a wide variety of crimes, including drug addiction and illegal immigration; capital punishment for serious crimes, especially drug-related offences; heavy fines for littering, jaywalking, and spitting; mandatory 25% savings leading to economic growth; and even population control by providing benefits to mothers who only have two children and who sterilize after two while providing incentives for highly educated mothers to have more than two children.
Are there good dictators? Can dictatorial leadership ever be justified as “good”?