The “pink wave” may have reached its peak in Latin America

The “pink wave” may have reached its peak in Latin America

However, their struggle against persistent economic headwinds indicates that the tide has turned. An anti-establishment stance that has emboldened the left could swing the election the other way.

To gain the same staying power as the leftist revival at the turn of the century, governments must revive economies that have frustrated voters and investors alike during a decade of mostly average growth.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric, 36, took office in March, his country’s most progressive leader in half a century and the youngest ever. But setbacks such as the rejection of a new constitution dented his popularity and forced him to make concessions to the center, including replacing some of the youth in his cabinet with more experienced establishment figures.

Colombia also turned sharply left with the June election of Gustavo Pedro, a 62-year-old former guerrilla who vows to tackle inequality through tax and land reform. First, he eased fiscal concerns, but spooked investors with a proposal to ban new oil and gas exploration and a second ruling on central bank policy.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 77, defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in October, a remnant of the region’s first pink wave, when he lost his presidency from 2003 to 2010. .

However, corruption scandals and economic mismanagement under his successor tarnished Lula’s legacy. Deep polarization, an aging workforce and a huge government debt make it nearly impossible for him to regain such sky-high popularity.

Why is it important?

Although the domestic consequences are yet to emerge, a series of progressives in Latin America, including the previously elected presidents of Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia, have reshaped regional diplomacy.

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Many leftist leaders have become friendly with authoritarian governments in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, making it more difficult to pressure the US and its allies.

Both Pedro and Lula are eager to restore diplomatic ties with Caracas, as Chile’s Boric spoke out about human rights abuses under Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

In December, the region’s ideological sympathies were on display when Peru’s left-wing former president Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress, forcing him out of office in an impeachment vote.

The governments of Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia and Honduras condemned Castillo’s ouster, calling it a “coup”. The US State Department said it was “delighted” to appoint his successor, President Tina Polwarte.

Lula recognized Castillo’s impeachment as “constitutional,” but he did not condemn the attempt to shut down the legislature.

What this means for 2023

As progressive movements embrace the fight against climate change, the new pink wave in the region has a distinctly green hue. While old-guard leftist politicians like Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador still take a positive view of fossil fuels, many of his colleagues are embracing renewable energy and conservation.

Lula’s chief foreign affairs adviser has called on Brazil to host a summit of countries in the first half of 2023 with developed countries interested in protecting the Amazon rainforest.

However, these and other attempts at elusive “regional integration” based on a common ideology are in danger of losing their chance.

Impeached a year and a half after his election, Castillo cannot be the only left-wing leader facing hard times.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández has an approval rating of around 20% ahead of October elections, where he and his allies have a strong chance – a sign that the pink tide could soon turn.

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See the Reuters round-up of stories that dominated the year and an outlook for 2023.

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