With the victory of Gustavo Petro, Colombia joins the new wave of leftist governments that have come to power in Latin America. This year, left-wing presidential candidates were the candidates at the polls in Chile and Honduras. According to opinion polls, the right wing is expected to defeat Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in the October elections in Brazil.
An additional reason to celebrate the left in Latin America is that Colombia’s political spectrum has never won a presidential election. The president-elect, Gustavo Petro, and his future vice president, Francia Márquez, proposed forming a new progressive axis with their counterparts from Mexico, Manuel Lopez Obrador, of Chile, Gabriel Borek, and of Argentina, Alberto Fernanez, who were the first to greet him.
“A new wave of the left is emerging in the region. In contrast to the first wave, between 2000 and 2010, this wave seems to be stronger, because now there are enormous challenges. One of the main reasons for the victory of the left in these countries is explaining Jan Boesten, political scientist and researcher In the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin, for DW: “It is likely that the cause is mismanagement of the epidemic, economic hardship, and thus increased inequality.”
left with shadows
In the 2000s, leftist candidates won crucial presidential elections, such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Lula da Silva in Brazil; Nestor Kirchner in Argentina; Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Jose Mujica in Uruguay and Evo Morales in Bolivia; Rafael Correa, in Ecuador, among others. However, the expert recalls Boyston, “The radical left, like that of Chávez, cannot be compared to the moderate left of Lula da Silva or Bachelet. Each country has a different political and social reality.”
The same thing is still happening now, according to Flavia Frydenberg, director of the Observatory for Political Reforms in Latin America. “Left governments in the region have nuances,” he told DW. “There are social, economic or ideological rights. But, first of all, we have to separate democratic and undemocratic political systems.” He adds, unfortunately, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba, which is called a leftist, cannot be placed in the group of democratic countries.
“This is not the reality of Chile, for example, because Borek, at this time, has a clear commitment to the moderate left, where human rights and freedoms are respected,” says the coordinator of the Network of Political Scientists. Without women.” In the same center-left group, expert Frydenberg places “for the time being” Argentine Fernandez and Mexican Lopez Obrador, although in recent years he has had significant tensions with independent organizations, journalists, and some public policies set by previous governments.
Stigmatization, a well-known practice
The stigmatization and smear campaign during the recent Colombian electoral process, in which Petro was said to turn Colombia into a “new Venezuela,” did not surprise Boesten, the political science professor, because it was a well-known practice in the region. “The strategy of associating leftist politicians with Maduro or terrorism has been seen recently in Chile or Peru, and the only thing they have done is favor the candidate. I don’t think that with Petro, democracy in Colombia is in danger. Petro has already been part of the institutional framework, as mayor of Bogota and as a member Senate for many years,” says the German political scientist.
Now, according to expert Frydenberg, Pietro’s great challenge is to “see which left to position himself. For me, it is not a problem that Pietro was a fighter. It was precisely the great success of democratization in our country that these sectors of the left chose armed way, have been incorporated into the electoral competition through democratic elections.”
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