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Latin America’s New Pink Tide?

Like the wave of leftist victories in the early 2000s following Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in Venezuela, the success of left-wing leaders across Latin America in recent years has been interpreted as a broader political paradigm shift. But these leaders’ substantive differences are more significant than their similarities.

MEXICO CITY – If former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reclaims the post in this October’s election (as now seems likely), and if Colombia’s leftist presidential candidate, Gustavo Petro, wins in May, their victories would build on a wave that began with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s victory in 2018. After AMLO came victories by Argentinian President Alberto Fernández in 2019, Bolivian President Luis Arce in 2020, and Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and Chilean President Gabriel Boric in 2021.

Many observers see a repeat of the “pink tide” that followed Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in Venezuela in 1999. Successive leftist victories then went to Chilean President Ricardo Lagos in 2000, Lula in 2002, Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2005, and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in 2006, among others.

To some, the current trend reflects necessary change in countries where inequality has become unbearable in the wake of the pandemic. But to others, the leftward shift should be seen as a significant threat to the region and to the United States, considering the extremism of some of the new leaders and the inroads that Russia and China have been making in Latin America.

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