Six recent experiences of the left in Latin America

Regina Silveira, "To Be Continued... (Latin American Puzzle)", 2001.
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By CLAUDIO KATZ*

Experiences with the progressive new wave already include huge hopes, huge disappointments and multiple uncertainties.

The existence of a new political map in Latin America marked by the predominance of progressive governments is an indisputable fact. The predominance of administrations of this type in 80% of the region raises great debates about the profile of a renewed center-left cycle.

The dynamics of this process is better understood by replacing the rigid term “cycle” with the more flexible notion of “wave”. This concept connects the prevailing type of government with the results of popular struggle. The first progressive sequence from 1999-2014 was succeeded by the conservative restoration from 2014-2019, which, in turn, led, in the last three years, to the restart of the previous process (García Linera, 2021).

 

Higher voltage enemies

What is new in the current scenario is the participation of a major Central American protagonist (Mexico) and another of great political influence (Honduras), in a direction that was located exclusively in South America in the previous phase. In some cases, new leaders took office as a result of popular insurrections, which had an immediate electoral effect. The governments of Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Honduras and Colombia emerged in the heat of these street riots.

In other situations, social discontent converged with the crisis, the nonsense of right-wing presidents and the inability of the establishment in positioning their candidates (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico). In turn, in two contexts of enormous popular resistance, street mobilization did not lead to ballots (Ecuador), nor did it allow for overcoming a chaotic scenario (Haiti).

The failure of all neoliberal governments orders this variety of contexts. The conservative restoration that tried to bury the progressive experience was unable to complete this burial. But, unlike the previous cycle, the rightists lost a round, without staying out of the ring for a long time. They continue in the race, redoubling their bets, with more extreme formations and more reactionary projects. They are competing side by side with progressivism for future governmental primacy. They continue to be referenced in American trumpism, while Joe Biden's strand began to play its cards with some exponents of progressivism.

The vitality of this latent counteroffensive by the regional right introduces a substantial difference compared to the previous cycle. It is enough to observe the polarization of most elections between progressivism and the extreme right to understand this new scenario. The first force has (so far) narrowly defeated the second in the presidential elections, but not in subsequent or midterm elections. Only a fragile balance prevails, which leads to caution in assessing the scope of the current progressive wave.

This prudence extends to other levels. Right-wing spokesmen obviously disqualify the current cycle because of their obvious interest in opposing the adversary. That is why they speak of a “weak and shallow pink tide” (Oppenheimer, 2022). But supporters of this process also highlight the absence of leadership comparable to the previous phase (Boron, 2021) and emphasize the fragmented character of a process without homogeneity in the economy and foreign policy (Serrano Mancilla, 2022).

Nicolas Maduro's strong responses to Gabriel Boric's questions about the Venezuelan regime illustrate the absence of a unified bloc. Some analysts see in this gap the debut of a “new anti-populist left”, which would emerge overcoming the immaturity of the previous period (Stefanoni, 2021). But, with greater realism, other evaluators point out the continuity of an old social-democratic profile in lasting tension with the radical processes (Rodríguez Gelfenstein, 2022).

The moderate center-left has so far set the tone for the current wave. It repeats messages of harmony and conciliation, in the face of an extreme and brutal right, which seeks to channel social discontent with more forceful speeches and actions. This progressivism and, too tends to be out of place, in a setting far from their current expectations and practices (Aharonian, 2022).

The two most recent progressive leaders arrive at the government with different trajectories, but surrounded by the same expectations. Gustavo Petro is the first president of its kind in Colombia and Lula begins his third term, after the terrible night he suffered in Brazil with Jair Bolsonaro.

Another figure of great regional weight such as López Obrador – who has already spent a good part of his administration at the helm of Mexico – maintains his credibility. On the opposite side, the government of Alberto Fernández is synonymous with failure in Argentina, the policies of Gabriel Boric are causing frustration in Chile, and before his overthrow, Pedro Castillo accumulated a record of failures in Peru. These six experiences illustrate the problems of the new progressivism in Latin America.

 

Colombia at the beginning

Gustavo Petro inserts Colombia in this process for the first time with peace at the top of his agenda. It promotes a very specific and differentiated objective from the rest of the region. It doesn't just send messages of reversal of inequality, dependency or authoritarianism. He proposes to put an end to the tragedy of deaths that bled his country. This goal was one of the flags of the 2021 protests. The centrality of this goal determines the specificity of its administration, in comparison with other regional administrations of the same sign (Malaspina; Sverdlick, 2022).

The new president has already resumed the Havana Peace Accord, reopened dialogue with armed groups and resumed relations with Venezuela, in order to exercise shared control of the border. By declaring the "war on drugs" a failure, he anticipated an alternative course to the simple militarization demanded by the United States.

But Petro seeks Biden's protection against his local enemies, and to facilitate that support, he supports the presence of the Marines. It validates the role of these troops, stating that they will contribute to the preservation of the environment, putting out, for example, the fires in the Amazon. With this nod to the Pentagon, he distances himself from the attitude assumed by Correa when he became president of Ecuador and ordered the closure of the US military base in Manta.

The big pending issue in Colombia is the response of the extreme right and the narco-state paramilitaries to official calls for dialogue. The new president's messages of reconciliation do not have a clear counterpart in their recipients. Nobody knows how Uribism could participate in an effective demilitarization process in the country (Aznárez, 2022).

This sector of the ruling class built its power on the terror employed by its gangs. The big question mark is what Petro's Plan B would be if the extreme right-wing criminals resume killing popular militants. They are already actively campaigning against the “petro-chavismo” of a president who pardoned those arrested during the popular uprising. They also conspire against the peace talks, seeking provocations to undermine the ceasefire. The failed attempt to attack Vice President Márquez illustrates the seriousness of these attacks (Duque, 2023).

Petro seeks an end to violence to favor the construction of a capitalism free of exploitation, inequality and environmental destruction. With this objective, he incorporated several exponents of local economic power into his government team, but without explaining how he would manage to forge in his country what no one else has achieved in the rest of the region.

In the last decade, progressive presidents limited themselves to diminishing the evils of neoliberalism, without developing another model, and this weakness fueled the conservative restoration. The same dilemma reappears today.

The new president is willing to negotiate a parliamentary agreement with the traditional parties, which have already trimmed the most radical edges of their initiatives. They have not yet defined their attitude towards the proposals to improve working conditions, but they have already withdrawn other advances. They forced the end of compulsory voting in the promised political reform, the reduction of land to be distributed among peasants and ethnic communities and the decrease of resources to be raised through tax reform (Rivara, 2022).

In line with this direction, the new ministry includes several figures from the establishment in the four main ministries. This physiognomy contrasts with the clearly popular outline of Vice President Márquez, who the victorious coalition appointed in the convulsive context created by the 2021 revolt.

Petro enjoys great support at the beginning of his term, and for this reason it is worth noting the disappointing results of the most recent attempts at capitalist construction in Latin America. What happened in El Salvador also provides significant warnings.

There, the long-awaited pacification that Petro is currently trying to achieve was achieved, but without beneficial economic or social effects for the majority of the population. The end of the war was followed in 1992 by a timid institutional reform, a fragile general amnesty and a small land redistribution. The guerrilla movement was not defeated and obtained successive provincial portions in the government.

When it finally managed to win the presidency (2009), the FMLN [Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front] replicated the old management practices and preserved the same capitalist structure. After a decade of frustration, a former mayor of that force (Nayib Bukele) leads the new authoritarian essay of the dominant groups.

 

The risks of return

Lula prepared his arrival remembering what his own administration had achieved in the past and began his government with a categorical speech to eradicate the Bolsonaro period. He began with several decisions to review this dramatic legacy. He revoked rules that facilitated access to firearms and reopened the investigation into the murder of Marielle Franco.

With regard to the economy, he canceled the reduction in tax rates for large companies, stopped eight privatizations and reactivated the Amazon protection fund, with announcements to curb deforestation. In his inaugural speech, he spoke of inequality and the need to reverse the privileges of the wealthy.

But Lula will have to face two adversities. The internal economic scene is very different from the past decade, and, across the street, she has an enemy willing to defend the previous direction of ultraliberal conservatism.

The Lula model of government has traditionally been based on protracted negotiations with all forces in Congress, in order to sustain the coalition presidentialism that prevailed in the post-dictatorial political regime (Natanson, 2022). This system is based on the exchange of votes for budget allocations in favor of the different capitalist groups or regional companies in dispute.

All right-wing legislators participate in this buying and selling of favors for the highest bidder, around an organizing axis of this profitable opportunism (the so-called “centrão”). In his previous administrations, the PT supported this mechanism, which Lula is now preparing to renew. It managed to neutralize the most reactionary candidates at the head of this structure, but it does not promote effective democratization projects through constitutional reform.

This corrupt parliament joined forces with the judiciary and the media to remove Dilma and validate Lula's detention. This political regime is also the basis of the prerogatives maintained by the military since the 60s dictatorship. popular (Serafino, 2023). As long as this system persists, there is no way to realize the goals of justice and equality extolled during the election campaign.

In his debut, Lula formed a balanced ministry with defenders of human rights, the environment and social priorities, alongside figures very close to big capital, agribusiness and militarism (Almeida, 2023).

The new president hopes to calm the wild beasts with the presence of a vice president representing conservatism. Alckmin comes from the most retrograde sector of the São Paulo bourgeois party (PSDB), is a member of Opus Dei, defends neoliberalism and has a history of corruption. supported the impeachment of Dilma and ensured its own protagonism when Lula was in prison. The potential replacement for the president in any emergency is a very dangerous figure who will not play merely decorative roles.

Lula presupposes that this character guarantees the bridges with the establishment. But this is not the first time that the PT has allied itself with the right and obtained adverse results. Between 2006 and 2014, the effect of this policy was the demobilization of its followers, the loss of strongholds in the South and the emergence of a Bolsonarist force, which filled the void created by the impotence of its opponent (Almeida, 2022a).

The repetition of this experience is the main danger posed by the third term. The defeat of the coup altered the scenario of a passive cult of the past and an undefined future. Popular support on the streets is the only way to turn high expectations into real achievements. This course is already intensely promoted by various social movements and left-wing organizations.

 

The economy issues

The characterization of Lula's first administration continues to raise debates. Some economists believe that a conservative variant of neoliberalism prevailed, while others consider it a more regulated version of neoliberalism (Katz, 2015: 159-178). But, in both cases, this experience was marked by the absence of transformative measures. A great expansion of welfare prevailed, with substantial improvements in consumption, but without significant changes in income redistribution.

During the electoral campaign, Lula contrasted the blessings of that period with the subsequent regression. But he omitted to assess the reason why these aids paradoxically supported the expansion of a middle class reactive to the PT, in a political climate that facilitated the rise of Jair Bolsonaro.

Economic conservatism, monetary orthodoxy and privileges for big capital generated the malaise that the extreme right took advantage of to reach the government. Now there is a reverse scenario of great questioning of the legacy of the former captain. Just remember that it led 33 million Brazilians to hunger and 115 million to food insecurity. He shamelessly favored an increase in inequality in the country that leads the world index in this scourge.

The immediate conjuncture is problematic due to the budget deficit. The Bolsonarist administration violated its own principles of linking state expenditures to a rigid ceiling of parliamentary commitments. The public sector has a very high debt to GDP ratio and private sector liabilities are close to an all-time high (Roberts, 2022). This overflow is also contained by the denomination of these securities in reais and by the large foreign exchange reserves accumulated by the Central Bank (Crespo, 2022).

Lula's messages now have a more industrialist and redistributive tone than in previous administrations. But the prevailing economic model enriches a minority of capitalists at the expense of popular income. Lula did not explain how he intends to reconcile the preservation of this scheme with the realization of the promised social improvements.

In his first 100 days in office, he will certainly test emergency hunger initiatives, along with certain revenue adjustments. It remains to be seen whether it will implement any significant tax changes to raise the necessary funds for the treasury. He has already managed to get relief from the tax cap imposed by creditors.

But the most significant test will be its attitude towards the 2017 labor reform. This law validated numerous abuses by attributing primacy to sectoral agreements, splitting vacations, outsourcing tasks and making layoffs more flexible. This destroyer of conquests did not generate the promised jobs, but it guaranteed a substantial increase in companies' profits.

Lula has been very ambivalent in his statements about this regime and his capitalist partners will certainly obstruct any change in the advances made by the bosses. With the same magnifying glass, they will observe the course after the initial brake on privatizations.

In any scenario, the right prepares its artillery and introduces a more unpredictable future than in the past, when Lula managed the tolerance of the entire economic arc. Now it is developing, with the endorsement of the industrialist bloc, the reservations of the financial sector and the hostility of agribusiness. He is also counting on the reinforcement of his political authority after suffocating the failed Bolsonarist coup. But this strengthening requires results in the economic sphere. What happened to your southern neighbor is an important warning of the adverse consequences of mistakes for all levels.

 

The huge failure in Argentina

Alberto Fernández's discredit is widespread after a three-year period plagued by failures. He began his term without defining what kind of Peronism he would introduce into his government. Over 70 years, justicialism has included multiple and contradictory variants of nationalism with social reforms, right-wing virulence, neoliberal turns and reformist directions (Katz, 2020). What never was was a simple validation variant of the status quo, with the degree of impotence, inefficiency and inaction that has characterized Fernández.

The current president started with a moderate profile, avoiding any reversal of the regressive legacy of Maurício Macri. In the first test of conflict caused by the bankruptcy of a large food company (Vicentin), the right-wing opposition quickly twisted its arm. The company's official expropriation project was annulled due to strong pressure from the agro-export lobby. This capitulation marked a management characterized by the numerous times it bowed to the dominant groups.

Fernandez was not even able to defend his health protection policy in the face of reactionary questions from denialists. He maintained an invariably defensive posture. The promised income redistribution became a slogan empty as inflation began to pulverize wages and pensions. The decision to alleviate the emergency with a wealth tax was an isolated act that lacked continuity.

The deterioration of purchasing power during his administration was in line with previous declines and consolidated a major collapse in the popular standard of living. Fernández opted for immobilism and received a strong response from the electorate in the defeat suffered by the government in the intermediate elections.

The impotence to contain inflation and the consequent increase in inequality was further aggravated by submission to the agreement demanded by the IMF (Katz, 2022a). This compromise legitimized the fraud organized by Macri and Trump to finance capital flight. It validated an obligation that ruins the future of countless generations, with adjustments and cuts in social security. In order to satisfy the creditors, a scenario was created that allows the auction of the coveted natural resources of the country to restart (Katz, 2022b).

The contrast of this frustrated experience of progressivism with its antecedents is overwhelming. Not only is it contrary to the Perón era, but also to the limited improvements that prevailed during the recent terms of Néstor and Cristina. Vicentin's capitulation is far from the strong dispute with agribusiness (2010) or the path opened by the nationalization of oil (YPF) and pension funds (AFJP). The Audiovisual Communication Services Law already approved by Parliament was simply forgotten and the way was left open for the judiciary to continue the lawfare against the vice president.

Fernández abandoned the neo-developmentalist attempt. This project has not advanced in the past decade due to the renunciation of greater state appropriation of soy income and the enormous trust in capitalist groups, which used state subsidies to send capital abroad without investing. But far from correcting these limitations, the current president opted for a paralysis that aggravated the imbalances in the economy.

The political outcome of this frustration is still uncertain. The conservative coalition agreed with the judiciary on an operation to isolate Cristina from the 2023 elections. They are combining prosecution in the courts, political ban and threats to her own life.

In this way, they hope to create a scenario of general decline of Peronism, which will allow them to resume the neoliberal project. Candidates are already being chosen to define a return plan with more austere measures, new privatizations and attacks on labor achievements through repressive methods and authoritarian management. The outcome is still uncertain, but the frustrations generated by the type of progressivism embodied by Alberto Fernández are already very visible.

 

Continued expectation in Mexico

The contrast between Mexico and Argentina is notable due to the similarity of origin that brings López Obrador and Fernández together. They are part of the first two administrations of the new progressive wave and also faced the difficulties of the pandemic, which generated a vote of no confidence against all rulers in most parts of the planet. Alberto prioritized health more than AMLO, but both adopted anti-denial positions.

The two presidents converged on the foreign policy promoted by the Puebla Group, as opposed to the Rio Group. But Mexico made pronouncements and implemented sovereign measures that Argentina avoided. AMLO's regionalist activism contrasted with Alberto's ambiguities, and the former's condemnation of the coup in Peru collided with the endorsement that characterized the latter.

On the economic front, López Obrador preserved the close association with the United States through free trade agreements that Argentina does not share. But he introduced some noise in the relationship with the North, which contrasts with Argentina's rapprochement with Washington after the agreement with the IMF.

While Fernández multiplies the concessions to Yankee investors in the coveted orbit of natural resources, AMLO promotes a reform of the electrical system, which has caused great agitation among US companies. This initiative grants preponderance to the State to the detriment of private companies, which require urgent intervention from Washington to curb this regulatory impulse (López Blanch, 2022).

AMLO maintains the payment of the illegitimate external debt, but rejected the offers of new financing conditioned by the IMF. On the contrary, Fernández validated the most nefarious agreement in recent decades with that body.

The huge questions raised by AMLO's development projects contrast with the immobilism and the sequence of financial and exchange rate crises that Alberto tolerated with calm resignation. Some of the Mexican president's economic initiatives could even assume a neo-developmentalist profile. This qualification has already been awarded to his criticized Maya Train project to boost tourism through the expansion of the rail network. But an eventual displacement of AMLO towards neo-developmentalism would be very different from the South American pattern, given Mexico's close connection with the US economy.

The economic and social balance of the workmanship is not encouraging, but it is far from the profound collapse of the popular standard of living that validated the current version of Peronism. Poverty has increased in Mexico and the consequent expansion of social programs, but the country is a long way from the continued degradation suffered by Argentina.

Unlike what happened in the Southern Cone, in Mexico an invariable continuity of neoliberal economic policies has prevailed. For several decades, the country has been involved in an international network of commercial agreements and external financial commitments, which reinforced the internal course of privatizations and labor deregulation.

But in contrast to its predecessors, AMLO granted some social improvements to the elderly, facilitated a limited wage recovery and introduced some modifications to the regressive labor system. It also facilitated these advances, without satisfying the pending demands of old conflicts. Furthermore, it supported the actions of the corrupt bureaucracy of the joints, to the detriment of independent trade unionism (Hernández Ayala, 2022).

In other areas, Mexico's problems are more serious. It faces a level of criminality and a homicide rate that does not exist in Argentina. The same difference can be seen at the democratic level. Fernández did not have a mortgage equivalent to the unsolved disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, nor did he have to deal with the privileges the army maintains in Mexico.

The Argentine president avoided the accusations of corruption that AMLO has already received and that the establishment uses to subject all governments. But this pause has not altered the general dissatisfaction that prevails among those in power over the Fernández administration. This assessment of the wealthy has been more varied in Mexico, which is witnessing the arrival of new elites in the circle of the privileged.

The variety of similarities and differences between the governments of the two countries also does not generate comparable political effects. Although Argentina has already had a long progressive experience with Néstor and Cristina, AMLO embodies the debut of this model in Mexico.

This novelty includes greater tolerance for a trial that led to changes that met with much resistance from López Obrador's opponents. This defensive dissatisfaction on the part of the right contrasts with the great offensive recomposition that this sector achieved in Argentina.

The results of the midterm elections illustrate the difference in scenarios that prevails between the two countries. Peronism suffered a defeat that would have ensured the immediate installation of a right-wing president, if the elections had been presidential. On the contrary, Obradorismo faced a limited setback, with no significant advances on the part of its opponents. Its hegemony in Congress has been eroded, but the right has not achieved the recovery it hoped for. A certain dissatisfaction arose among the urban middle class and youth with his administration, which did not swell the ranks of the opposition (Arkonada, 2021).

In this scenario of great differences in the perception of the results of progressivism, the Obradoristas are discussing how to strengthen a candidate for the next six years, while the Peronists are looking for a lifeline for 2023. The balance of each experience is not a mere record of successes and failures. It implies, above all, an assessment of the popular reception of what happened. In this regard, the distances between Argentina and Mexico are enormous.

 

Frustration in Chile

The disappointment that can be seen in Chile bears more resemblance to Argentina's disappointment than to Mexico's ambivalences. Gabriel Boric took over with enormous support. His inaugural speech, calling for the reversal of inequality and an end to the model of private pension funds, mining pollution and wasteful consumerism, aroused enormous expectations.

This hope did not ignore the problematic trajectory of a leader who reached the presidency distancing himself from the left in order to build bridges with the old concertation. This collusion ensured the continuity of post-Pinochet neoliberalism. Boric did not bring to the government the generation of students that had shaken the country since 2011, but an elite of this youth already shaped by the establishment.

The new president debuted with a balanced ministry, combining the presence of communist leaders with economists from the neoliberal field. He had the option of relying on popular mobilization to implement his campaign promises, or he could adopt the continuity demanded by Lagos, Bachelet and the party-based party. Boric opted for this second path, provoking the frustration of the majority of his voters.

This definition was elaborated from the beginning in the demand for the release of political prisoners from the bloody 2019 uprising. Boric avoided passing a pardon law that involved almost a thousand beneficiaries from the outset. Subsequently, he resumed the criminalizing discourse against the protests and re-established the state of exception in the Mapuche regions. This submission to the dominant power extended to the economic sphere. The promised end of the AFPs [Administrators of Pension Funds], and the tax reforms to reduce inequality remained in the drawers.

The deactivation of the Constituent Assembly was in line with these capitulations. Instead of advancing the agenda of a body created to bury Pinochetism, Boric supported the pressure of the hegemonic press to obstruct debates and dilute the proposals of that assembly (Szalkowicz, 2022). He contributed to undermining the very existence of that body, removing from its agenda any change in the political regime or the neoliberal model.

The final text of the Constituent Assembly emerged with so many cuts that it was not even defended by its proponents. Officialism led this erosion, emptying the content of the campaign for the approval of this reform. He even agreed on a compromise to modify the text, if it were approved at the ballot box. In this case, it contemplated the incorporation of all amendments required by the establishment. As a result of this self-liquidation, the favorable votes received a major beating in the elections. 61,88% voted for Reject, against 38,12% for Approve, in a record turnout. (Titelman, 2022).

This vote against the Constituent Assembly was actually a plebiscite of discontent with the government. In the overwhelming disapproval, it was no longer the fate of a contentless text that was at stake, but the assessment of a government that had disappointed its supporters and emboldened its enemies.

Boric is an exponent of the failures of current progressivism. He deactivated the protests to block their radicalization and sterilized the political action forged in the streets, to support the network of the old institutions. He demonstrates subservience to business and toughness with rebels. For this reason, some analysts believe that the possibility of reorienting his administration towards an effectively progressive course is now closed (Figueroa Cornejo, 2022). After the failure of the plebiscite, he incorporated more representatives of the former concertation in his government and, to some extent, his administration is modeled on that experience.

The dizzying changes at the ballot box illustrate the volatile nature of the electorate in the current turbulent period. When progressivism disappoints, the right recovers in record time. Chile does not provide the only picture of this speed of current mutations.

 

Disillusionment in Peru

The overthrow of Pedro Castillo temporarily ended another frustrated experience of progressivism. The current capture of the government by a civil-military mafia, which ignored the continuity of an elected president, should not obscure the accumulation of disappointments generated by this chaotic president.

Castillo ruled tempestuously, facing his allies and converging with his opponents. He reneged on his promises, accepted the pressures of his enemies and managed on a tightrope without any compass.

The desperate attempt to survive through an improvised dissolution of Congress was a perfect portrait of these shortcomings. Instead of calling for popular mobilization against the coup leaders, he appealed to the OAS and gambled on the loyalty of a military leadership specializing in accommodation to whoever offers the highest offer.

Castillo could support his mandate in the huge popular mobilization that sustained his victory. Its ambiguous trajectory did not allow anticipating any government direction. The similarities with Evo Morales created the possibility of a repetition of what happened in Bolivia. But he decided to take a different path from his Altiplano counterpart. Instead of basing himself on a social base transformed into an electoral majority, he opted for submission to the ruling classes.

The former president first eliminated the radical sector of his government, inaugurating an endless sequence of ministerial replacements. He later agreed to work out his promise to convene a Constituent Assembly. The next step was the abandonment of the announced renegotiation of mining contracts with transnational companies.

But none of these messages of goodwill reassured the Fujimori right, which maintained its support for a coup d'état. They created a climate of suffocating pressure on Castillo, until they convinced the entire reactionary spectrum of the opportunity to seize power. In this interval, the president changed 70 ministers in less than 500 days of government.

Blackmailing a president hostage to the legislature and the courts allowed the ruling class to maintain its economic model. This scheme has shown great durability in the midst of constant political storms. During Castillo's administration, this scenario was repeated, with an additional portion of harassment, which reinforced mismanagement.

The caucus that supported his government in parliament was fragmented after countless ministerial removals. Even several members of his ministry lost their positions before they even took over. Castillo's improvisation generalized the image of a disoriented president.

When left-wing allies distanced themselves, the ousted president opted for right-wing replacements. Representatives of Opus Dei, anti-feminist conservatives, big foundation technocrats, and even mob-linked individuals have found a place in her volatile ministry. Castillo's meeting with Bolsonaro and his approval of diplomatic resolutions sponsored by the US embassy completed the picture of a president divorced from his promises.

In line with this adjustment to the status quo, Castillo even resorted to repression of demonstrators who rejected the increase in food and energy prices. But the effect of his administration disappointment is anyone's guess. Peru has already suffered similar frustrations (Ollanta Humala in 2011) and is still recovering from the traumatic experience of Sendero Luminoso (Tuesta Soldevilla, 2022). This experience is recreated, distorted and tirelessly invoked by the right to justify the army's crimes against the people.

But resistance to the coup generated an unprecedented scenario of popular rebellion of extraordinary scope. The march on Lima received numerous signs of encouragement, in 15 regions convulsed by 80 roadblocks, raised to face an atrocious repression of police officers who kill without any impediment (Zelada, 2023). In this great revolt, the demand for a Constituent Assembly is very present, which summarizes the complaints against everyone involved in the current political system. Peru did not participate in the progressive wave of the last decade and the ongoing heroic resistance will set the course for the next period.

 

asymmetric polarization

Experiences with the progressive new wave already include huge hopes, huge disappointments and multiple uncertainties. The predominant expectation in Colombia and Brazil differs from the assessment of what happened in Mexico and contrasts with the frustrations in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The economic scenario is just a conditioning factor in this context. It is often pointed out that the wave of the last decade was the result of the international appreciation of raw materials. This bullish supercycle commodities effectively provided the resources to finance more comfortable models, which later weakened with the depreciation of Latin American exports.

But if the progressive course had obeyed exclusively this context, its possible reproduction in the coming years should not be ruled out. The war that followed the pandemic and the short circuit in the supply of global value chains revalued raw materials for a period that no one can anticipate.

The central feature of the past decade was popular rebellions and changes in social power relations, which severely affected the preceding neoliberal scheme. Therefore, there was greater state intervention, social improvements and heterodox economic policies.

Currently, the ruling classes exert furious pressure on new rulers to prevent any resumption of a progressive course, and most of this spectrum exhibit conciliatory postures.

The dynamics observed in six ongoing experiences illustrate the presence of an asymmetrical polarization, which opposes a vacillating progressivism to its extreme right-wing enemies (Almeida, 2022b).

*Claudius Katz is professor of economics at Universidad Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Neoliberalism, neodevelopmentalism, socialism (Popular Expression).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

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Almeida, Juraima (2023) Lula and the difficult reconstruction https://estrategia.la/2023/01/03/lula-y-la-dificil-reconstruccion-de-un-brasil-en-ruinas/

Almeida, Juraima (2022a). Without mobilizing the masses or abandoning the cult in the past,

Katz, Claudio (2015). Neoliberalism, Neodesarrollismo, Socialism, Batalla de Ideas2015, Buenos Aires.

Roberts, Michael (2022). Brazil: an economic and political mountain https://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/brasil-una-montana-rusa-economica-y-politica

Crespo, Eduardo (2022) Lula's Brazil and the reasons for moderate optimism

https://www.pagina12.com.ar/498445-el-brasil-de-lula-y-los-motivos-de-un-optimismo-moderado

Katz, Claudio (2020). The fifth Peronism in the light of the past 31-1-2020, www.lahaine.org/katz

Katz, Claudio (2022a) The ominous return of the IMF, 31-1-2022, www.lahaine.org/katz

Katz, Claudio (2022b) A turning point, 3-9-2022, www.lahaine.org/katz

López Blanch, Hedelberto (2022). Mexico defends energy sovereignty

https://claridadpuertorico.com/mexico-defiende-su-independencia-economica/

Hernández Ayala, José Luis (2022), The labor god of the 4T 04/10/2022, https://rebelion.org/la-deuda-laboral-de-la-4t/

Arkonada, Katu (2021) Sweet and sweet choices. https://www.resumenlatinoamericano.org/2021/06/07/mexico-las-elecciones-agridulces/

Szalkowicz, Gerardo (2022). Chile: four reasons for electoral counter-stallido https://www.pagina12.com.ar/479788-chile-cuatro-razones-del-contra-stallido-electoral

Titelman, Noam (2022) Where was the support for the Chilean constituent process, https://nuso.org/articulo/Chile-plebiscito-constitucion/

Figueroa Cornejo, Andrés (2022). Three years after the Revuelta the repression continues: ¿Qué te pasó Boric? https://rebelion.org/a-tres-anos-de-la-revuelta-la-represion-continua-que-te-paso-boric/

Tuesta Soldevilla, Fernando (2022), Interview with a sociologist and political scientist http://www.bitacora.com.uy/auc.aspx?12828,7

Zelada, César (2023) A new correlation of forces against Dina https://www.resumenlatinoamericano.org/2023/01/30/nacion-mapuche-una-nueva-correlacion-de-fuerzas-contra-dina/

Almeida, Juraima (2022b). Brasil Ganó Su Derecho a la Esperanza, https://www.nodal.am/2022/10/brasil-gano-su-derecho-a-la-esperanza-lula-sera-presidente/

 

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