The widespread political shifts to the Right that have increased in recent years in the region of Latin America, have called into question the political viability of the so-called “pink tide”[1] projects.

The development of Left-wing political strategies in various Latin American countries in the 2000s, which in many cases led to government change, served as a worldwide reference for a concerted effort to form a framework for policy responses to the domination of neoliberalism. All of these projects, from their most radical versions to the most moderate ones, have based their electoral rise on the development of different types of links with polymorphous grassroots movements and on an attempt to politically express the demands of the excluded in Latin American societies. The political programs of these political projects, although they have floated into a range of different rationales of redistribution and fight against the inherent in these societies extreme poverty and diverse exclusions, have gradually come to terms with the external and internal constraints that have forced them, in most cases, to accept compromises that undermined the very foundations of their political rise.

On the other hand, the Latin American Right, historically aligned with US strategy in the region and possessing strong leverage in all areas of social power, has exploited all the institutional, as well as the extra-institutional, capabilities that it could activate within the given contexts of the era, in order to undermine the “pink tide” governments and to shape the conditions for its political restoration. However, it would be inadequate to interpret the “pink ebb” solely on the basis of the attacks by the Right, as they have succeeded by pressing on the contradictions and failures of the Left-wing governments.

These contradictions and failures were not only the product of the constraints imposed by the international political economy, but also of the deviation of Left governments from both the political conditions of their rise—that is to say, the formulation of a new relationship of institutional politics with movements and society—as well as the goal of radical social transformation, which has given way to moderate political projects and more modest progressive administration practices.

Two decades after the emergence of the “pink tide”, the Latin American experience, in addition to its self-evident significance for the contemporary Left, is also an important guide for the European Left.

In this context, the Institute for Alternative Policies ENA addressed five academics, specializing in the study of Latin American politics, as well as “pink tide” politics, to discuss with them different aspects of recent developments.

 

Dr. Costas Eleftheriou

Co-ordinator of Political Analysis Unit

 

[1] Τhe term “pink tide” has been used to describe left governments that have emerged in various Latin American countries from the late 1990s to the mid-2010s. The most emblematic were the governments of H. Chavez in Venezuela, the Kirchners in Argentina, Lula and D. Rousseff in Brazil, E. Morales in Bolivia, R. Correa in Ecuador and M. Bachelet in Chile.