Governments in Latin America have undergone a shift in their political spectrum since 2018, with progressive or left-wing presidents elected in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Chile and Colombia, and this goes to the polls with Brazil’s turn for presidential elections in October. It is not a consensus among researchers and experts in Latin America that this shift to the left facilitates greater integration among the countries of the region.
“The New Cycle [à esquerda] is yet to be verified. For now, this appears to be more of an ideological contingency in the shift of power linked to each country’s context than a structural shift. The coincidence may be brief: for example, even if Lula da Silva wins the presidential election in Brazil, everything points to the fact that the right can win in Argentina in 2023,” said Lusa, a researcher and professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Lisboa (UAL). . ) Philip Vasconcelos Romao.
For Vasconcelos Romão, there is no effective plan for Latin American integration, “there is fragmentation of institutions, and Mercosur can be highlighted. [Mercado Comum do Sul] A customs union with major flaws and subject to the mindset of the Brazilian and Argentine governments”.
The UAL professor also noted that “the cooperation mechanisms created (as well as Mercosur itself) are clearly exposed to the ideological alignments of each moment”.
“Given these precedents, with the coincidence of successive left-wing governments in the region, formal and informal platforms for dialogue are expected to be reinvigorated. However, these may be as fragile as before,” opined the professor.
“Latin American countries have no complementary economies, they all sell to China”
Andrés Malamud, a researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon (ICS-UL), adds, “Regional alliances or organizations like Mercosur will not strengthen because politics doesn’t help, but because. Economics doesn’t help.”
“Latin American countries don’t have complementary economies, they all sell to China. In South America, others sell to the United States. They don’t buy or sell among themselves, there’s no incentive to create big markets,” Malamud said.
According to the ICS-UL researcher, “there may be some cooperation, some dialogue, group photos and headlines in newspapers, but integration will not progress only because the governments in Latin America are mostly left-wing”.
“At the domestic level, in every country, left-wing governments distribute more than right-wing governments. Externally, Latin America will not be like the European Union (EU), there will not be a common market, there will not be a Schengen area, there will not be a common currency like the Euro”, Malamud underlined.
Waiting for Brazil
Cristiano Pinheiro de Paula Guto, a researcher at the Instituto de Historia Contemporary at the Universidad Nova de Lisboa, believes “on the horizon the consolidation of a large regional alliance,” based on opinion polls indicating Lula da Silva’s victory in Brazil. ” and the return of the left in Brazil “could decisively contribute to the constitution of a more politically integrated power bloc”.
“A weird decision [nas presidenciais brasileiras]However, regional integration can be undermined”, Cristiano Pinheiro de Paula Guto underlined, due to Brazil’s heavy weight in the region.
“In the first decade of the 21st century, if the dominance of progressive governments repeats itself in Latin America, without prejudice to relations with countries outside the subcontinent, Mercosur and its revival will be guaranteed. Or the revival of other regional integration efforts”, said the researcher.
However, the researcher from the Universidad Nova de Lisboa emphasized that Latin American countries will face major challenges in the economic field in the face of the “hostile and uncertain international environment” that the world is experiencing today.
Code of Colombia
Academics are highlighting the significance of former guerrilla Gustavo Pedro’s victory in Colombia’s presidential election to become the country’s first left-wing president, but insist he faces obstacles from the opposition.
The 62-year-old economist, who was a guerrilla in the defunct M-19 group, was elected in the second round of Colombian elections last June with 50.47 percent of the vote and will succeed outgoing President Ivan Duque on August 11. for a period of four years.
“Symbolically, the change is very strong. Colombia’s history has never had a president of the left who came from the extreme left and now comes from the democratic left,” declared Andrés Malamud.
Andrés Malamud was more positive about the current state of Colombia’s economy than the political situation, warning that a lack of much political support in parliament, like many leftist governments in Latin America, could be a problem.
“The President of Colombia (Gustavo) Pedro has already managed to create a coalition, but even so, it is a coalition and it is not only the support of his party”, Malamud underlined.
“An unprecedented historical fact”
According to researcher Cristiano Pinheiro de Paula Guto, the election of Pedro and Vice President Francia Márquez is “an unprecedented historical fact, inscribed in the background of the ‘new pink wave’, in the last two years, of progressive governments. Latin America”.
“Pedro is the country’s first left-wing president, but his victory, achieved in the second round, took place in a strongly polarized situation”, underlined Couto.
“Although he has a moderate speech and is undoubtedly situated in the Colombian political ‘establishment,’ Pedro secures a significant leftist base, winning with a government program aimed at changing the economic model to promote social equality. .
“He also proposed a tax reform designed to introduce a progressive logic in tax collection, which meant reducing taxation on the poor and increasing taxation on the rich,” Kudo said.
For the researcher of contemporary history of the Universidad Nova de Lisboa, Pedro and the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric. [ex-líder estudantil de esquerda]”Represents a significant shift in the power structure of Latin America,” but one should not underestimate the potential for reaction by ruling classes in Chile and Colombia that are more concerned with ties to supranational capitalism. “.than countries”.
“Democracy is weak and it means constant conflict. Today, progress may be made, but tomorrow a counter-coup could set everything back,” he warned.
“In Colombia, Gustavo Pedro has shown a moderate tendency in preparing his government, which may dictate a different path from Chile, a more radical one. Pedro’s pragmatism will lead to some structural changes, especially in terms of integration of the peace process. [com os grupos guerrilheiros que ainda existem no país] and the fight against inequalities”, considers, for his part, Philip Vasconcelos Romao.