The left challenged by power in Latin America

youthe historical alternation has begun in Colombia. For the first time in its history, the country will have at its head a left-wing president, Gustavo Petro, a former member of a Marxist-inspired guerrilla movement, the M-19, who had abandoned the armed struggle in 1990, and an Afro-descendant vice-president, feminist Francia Marquez.

In a country renowned for its level of violence, this victory was won at the end of a presidential election which went off without a hitch, despite the passions it aroused, and which was revealed by a strong turnout. The opponent of Gustavo Petro, an eccentric right-wing populist, accepted his defeat without hesitation, and the conservative and centrist camp removed from power also congratulated the winners. They have thus demonstrated a political maturity which we can only congratulate ourselves on, just as we can only praise the will of Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez to place the fight against global warming at the heart of their action.

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The roots of this unprecedented alternation are to be found largely in the vast protest movement that set the country ablaze a year ago. A project to increase VAT on basic foodstuffs should have pushed tens of thousands of Colombians onto the streets, facing a devastating third wave of Covid-19 at the same time. This project, which President Ivan Duque (who could not run again this year) had been forced to withdraw, had shown that the deep inequalities which risked the country had reached a breaking point.

The Antechamber of Difficulties

The harshly repressed protests in Colombia have echoed those that occurred in Chile in 2019 and 2020, also to protest against the inequalities that have become unsustainable in the country that contains a neoliberal development model. These were awarded in December 2021 on the victory of a former student leader, Gabriel Boric. This victory was added to that, in Peru, of a former trade unionist supported by a Marxist party, Pedro Castillo.

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The surge of the left in Latin America, verified in recent years in Argentina and Mexico, is indeed general. It is also part of a price of distance from societies with a long-dominant conservative Catholicism. Advances in abortion by feminist movements in Argentina, Mexico or Colombia, a pioneering country in the area of ​​assisted suicide, the manifesto.

This surge could continue in Brazil, on the occasion of the presidential election scheduled for this fall. It highlights the fact that, in the face of rising poverty, the bogeyman that Venezuela has long been, a counter-model of social devastation under the guise of reducing inequalities, complacently agitated by the Latin American right, frightens no one anymore.

Bringing hope, victory in the elections is however only the antechamber of the difficulties for the left in Latin America, as evidenced by those with which Pedro Castillo and Gabriel Boric are confronted. For Gustavo Petro, the lackluster global economic outlook adds up to a delicate political equation: a deeply fractured country and the absence of a majority in Congress. His long political experience, in the Senate and in the town hall of Bogota, will not be too much to face it.

The world

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