South America – gray wave?

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By ANGELITA MATOS SOUZA*

The difficulties of progressive governments place them far from the aspirations of the left

Shortly after the election of President Lula for his third term, an article in the newspaper The Globe declared that the victory consolidated the new 'pink wave' in South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Colombia and, finally, Brazil, in addition to Honduras and Mexico, outside region. And many analysts wrote the same, there was a new pink wave on the horizon.

Unfortunately, there are indications that it is turning into a “gray wave”. At the Peru, President Pedro Castillo was removed even before President Lula took office. The situation in Argentina is so critical that we cannot rule out the possibility that this year's election will give victory to a braggart. In Bolivia, the economic crisis, marked by the evasion of foreign exchange, is added to the dispute already established between Luis Arce and Evo Morales, around who will be the candidate of the MAS (Movement to Socialism) in 2026, which divides the party and , obviously favors the right.

In Colombia, President Gustavo Petro, faced with the difficulties of governing in a reformist sense, carried out a ministerial reform and announced that he will bet on popular mobilization to strengthen himself. If successful, it will set an example for progressive governments in the region. For this very reason, the battle has everything to be very difficult.

In Chile, the reversal was more depressing, because after the great mobilizations that called for changes, and resulted in the election of Gabriel Boric as president, much more was expected of the country. However, in 2022 there was a defeat in a plebiscite of the Constitution project and the far right won the elections for the new constituent process that took place this month.

Almost all the analyzes I read blamed the mismatch between the advancement of agendas for recognition and the (conservative) Chilean ideological reality. Carlos E. Martins, in an article posted on the website the earth is round drew attention to an important fact: the introduction of compulsory voting would have increased the electoral participation of the disorganized and depoliticized masses, which would have favored the right. Amidst the spread of fake news, mandatory voting seems to have been a mistake. Or would it always be a mistake? (Here, because of the phenomenon of Lulism, maybe not).

Finally, despite the recovery of international prestige with President Lula's return to power, the situation in Brazil is complicated internally. The Central Bank insists on a suicidal interest rate policy; in Congress, Arthur Lira makes the “Rodrigos” look like great republicans: the previous president, Rodrigo Maia, and the current president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco.

There is still a conflict brewing between the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) and Petrobras, and if there is one person the government should not risk losing, it is Marina Silva. Currently, the Amazon is the main source of soft power for the government (not to mediate warlike conflicts, as it seems, of long duration) and the minister contributes to that.

In short, it was never easy, but in the first decade of this century the miracle of commodities it helped a lot. What certainly did not contribute to the future (the now), notably in the Brazilian case, was the lack of an (industrial) development project aimed at investing in new economic sectors or even towards reindustrialization as its main objective.

Brazil was the country in the best conditions to pursue this objective. Income distribution policies were important, including for President Lula's victory in 2022, however, in his previous governments, better use could have been made of the luck, including to wage an “ideological battle” against hegemonic neoliberalism. Let's hope there is another opportunity, now built by us. And let's keep an eye on Colombia

*Angelita Matos Souza is a political scientist and professor at the Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences at Unesp.

Originally published on GGN newspaper.


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