Latin America is evolving: Women, a metal worker, a soldier, and a bishop, all have become presidents of large, influential countries. New social movements in Latin America are one explanation for this change in politics. These new social movements are focused on human rights rather than economic issues like in the past. "The result of this new agenda is a motion that is calling for laws to redistribute land, promote gender equality, protect the enviornment, win rights for workers, redress centuries of abuse toward indigenous people, and further the cause of social justice" (Meade 318). The future of Latin America seems to lie in the hands of the Pink Tide, a leftist ideology. The heads of this party consist of Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernandez, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, Nicanor Duarte, and Hugo Chavez. These Presidents of Latin America have banned together to force change and make other nations realize they will no longer be pushed around. One example was the stand they took in refusing talks with the United States until Cuba was included in these talks.
The pioneer of the Pink tide in South America was none other than Hugo Chávez. Chávez gained more popularity with the people after an unsuccessful coup against the contemporary government in 1992. Even though he was arrested and jailed, he was a hero to his people. The reaction of the people was easy to interpret: People would side with a negative of a negative to turn it into a positive. Eventually, corruption threw President Carlos Andres Perez out of office and Chávez, with his popularity and charisma, won the election of 1998 to become the President of Venezuela yet again.
The U.S. was unhappy about the leftist movements happening in Latin America. After spending quite some time in the Middle East, they looked back at Latin America and was stunned by the changes Chávez had made. Consequently, the U.S. government took actions to maintain influence in the region. One of these efforts includes a failed coup which was the one that gave raised his popularity. It was significant due to the mass influence of the media.
Most of Chávez's allies in South America carry a strong sense of nationalism and would prefer to be viewed as progressive thinkers rather than threats. They do not agree with U.S. policies, but they are not necessarily against the U.S. government and its people. The reason some leaders oppose U.S. Free Trade is easy to explain. First, they fear returning favor to the U.S. since past experience shows the U.S. was quite unreasonable and for example, President Evo Morales of Bolivia refused to have a U.S. base in his country. Secondly, Free Trade and IMF are forms of exploitation by rich countries on poor countries. The idea of neoliberalism is not suitable for Latin America when it is the target; it discourages government infrastructure development and instead supports cutting corners to economic flow, robbing Latin America in the process. One more reason South American leaders would not trust the U.S. government's policies is that they believe the U.S. is controlled by private sectors such as FBI, CIA, DEA. As a result, these sectors can provoke reckless actions as they please, without the consent of the government; they make the central government look like a joke. In other words, South American leaders would not want to work with a government that could not control its subsidiaries. The zapatistas in Mexico share this discontent of U.S. Free trade as well and have fought against it.Hugo Chavez played a large role in the Pink Tide movement. Latin American countries are starting to be heard and their opinions are greatly supported by those who are sympathetic to views it represents while those on the opposite end of the political spectrum identify the Pink Tide as a malignant influence. Hugo Chavez is trying to accomplish Simon Bolivar's goal of making a Bolivarian Nation. He has the support of the other presidential figures, except for Colombia. This is slowly turning into a revolution, and the Unites States fears this. The tension is growing in Colombia as well. Colombia is a Latin American country and an ally of the United States. Hugo Chavez, without denying it or affirming it, provides weapons and guidance to the FARC. Colombia is being torn in two and crime is becoming a huge issue. Hugo Chavez has a lot of control over what happens in the next decade with Latin America and its foreign policy. With Venezuela being one of the biggest oil nations and Chavez at the top of this Pink Tide movement a lot of what is to come is unknown.
The allies of Hugo Chávez have the right to be proud of him; South America previously had failed to produce lasting progressive governments, yet Chávez built a Bolivarian nation all by himself in a neoliberal region. Despite what the media have been speaking about the leaders of the region, they have a very humanitarian view -human basic needs are considered human rights, and shall not be privatized. The leaders in the south are just doing what human beings do to progress: Thinking of new ways to develop, in case the current way of the US is eliminated during the process of evolution.
The U.S. government became too arrogant after its victory during the Cold War to accept that South America was changing towards the left. The Soviet Union collapsed, and it "proved" capitalism is the best economic system, with no peer. As President Christina Kirchner stated in the movie South of the Border : "Ideology is heavier than intelligence". The U.S. government needs to take its ego out of equation and be open to change. They also must stop themselves from interfering with the development of the rest of the world. What works in the United States might not necessarily work somewhere else. In the last decade, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have been expanding their markets at an accelerated rate, slowly displacing the hegemony of the United States. This new world order is one the world is not used to, and the next century will be defined by how the U.S. relinquishes or asserts its changing role. The new governments of South America, with their vibrant economies and renewed nationalistic pride, are well equipped for this changing world and are ready to play a major part. The leaders of the south, and of the world in general, want to cooperate with the U.S. and develop, but it cannot happen without mutual sympathy and respect.
Recent Changes in Latin America:
- Democracy is becoming more widespread
- Colombia and Chile recently held successful, peaceful and fair elections where citizens were able to exercise their right to vote.
- Brazil elected its first female president, Dilma Roussouf, sending a strong message to the women of Latin America that they can have a role in their country's future.
- Latin America's economy has emerged: "In the five years leading up to the 2008 global financial crisis, Latin American economies experienced growth rates of 5.5 percent, while keeping inflation in single digits. And when the crisis did hit, Latin America stood strong, weathering the crisis better than any other region in the world" (Dodd).
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Dodd, Chris. "Sen. Chris Dodd: The Future of Latin America: Opportunities and Challenges for U.S. Policy in the Hempishere." Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post.9 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-dodd/the-future-of-latin-ameri_b_781254.html?view=print
Meade, Teresa A. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Print
Rory Carroll and Lola Almudevar. Pink Tide - And a Revolutionary is Born Again