Latin American Turns To The Left

1170 words - 5 pages

Latin America Turns to The Left

Within the last 20 years many Latin American nations have changed course from a neoliberal polity to one that is sided more to the left wing spectrum. “A significant part of Latin America is governed today by political movements and governments that call themselves ‘leftist’ or are classified as such by external observers.” (Luna) Furthermore, the shift in direction politically has been classified by 3 factors; “1) opposing incumbents by mobilizing economic and political discontent; 2) being able to bring together a broad, socially heterogeneous electoral constituency in the context of fragmented societies; and 3) having a charismatic leader who was able to achieve 2 by pursuing 1.” (Luna)
These dramatic shifts originally began as protests against the lack of incorporation and equality within the neoliberal governments. Over time, these movements gained momentum and ultimately resulted in a noticeable shift throughout the entire region of Latin America. “Lula in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.” (Lynch) According to Maxwel A. Cameron, this succession to left wing politics occurred due to ‘the disenchantment with neoliberalism, the poor performance of democratic governments and the waning of US influence in the Western Hemisphere created opportunities for the left throughout the region.” (Cameron)
A major failure of neoliberal polity was its inability to provide political equality and arguably more important, equality economically. “There is a fundamental contradiction between a regime based on political equality such as democracy and an economy that only benefits a restricted sector of the population, generally organized through oligopolies. This tension deeply erodes the regime’s material foundations and leads citizens to look for better alternatives for reconciling the economy with politics.” (Lynch) This idea of reconciling the economy and providing equality is the same rhetoric that all of the above mentioned leaders used while they were running for office. “Most observers agree that various left-wing parties, movements, and leaders in Latin America share a common commitment to egalitarianism; a willingness to use the state to balance market forces; and a belief in the importance of popular participation.” (Cameron)
When examining the relationship between a population and it’s connection to the state, a clearer picture can be found that sheds light on how the shift to more left or left of center polities have begun to rise.
“In Latin America, there are cases such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Mexico, in which the identification between nation and state is very strong. In other countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru such identity is weak. The ethnic aspect lends to play a crucial role in the degree...

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