Latin America: The Anatomy of a Second Wave of Progressive Governments


Generalization is always a double-edged sword; On the one hand it is useful because it orders and simplifies, but on the other hand it is risky because complexity and nuance are lost.

The term “progressive second wave” was born, precisely, from the desire to find a single category that could explain all the political processes that took place in Latin America in the last five years (2017-). 2022).

geopolitical event

The victories of AMLO in Mexico, Alberto Fernández in Argentina, Luis Arce in Bolivia after the coup, Pedro Castillo in Peru, Gabriel Borík in Chile, Xiomara Castro in Honduras and Gustavo Petro in Colombia are undoubtedly a new geopolitical phenomenon. These new governments have the common factor of curbing neoliberalism in each of their countries and, moreover, they are developing in a different historical era from the so-called “progressive first wave”, which in turn distinguishes them. of his predecessors.

However, it would be wrong to consider them as a monolithic and homogeneous block, despite certain common particularities.

Each specific knowledge is very different from each other. The political history of Chile cannot be compared to that of Mexico, nor that of Colombia to that of Bolivia. Each process has its own constraints, both internal and external. Even neoliberalism does not behave in the same way in all countries.

The way to win elections is also different. Obtaining a minimum victory in the second round is not the same as having reached 10% or 12% of the electoral list in the first round (as in the case of Castillo in Peru and Borík in Chile) before he be won by an overwhelming majority. in the round (for example, Luis Arce received 46% and AMLO 33% in the census).

Nor do we superficially resemble the type of front that forms the electoral and political basis of each case. The degree of diversity is very varied. The historic treaty in Colombia has little to do with the Chilean agreement; Morena with complex Peruvian fragmentation; Or everyone’s Argentine front with the Bolivian MAS.

Circumstances and leadership

And, finally, we must not ignore the differences in terms of leadership itself. With an uneven biography, even for an extreme age problem. Some were in prison and some were in college fights; Some come from rural areas and others from big cities; There are people who have previous experience in public management and who have never governed before.

All these combinations of shades must be taken into account when x-raying this second historic moment in Latin America, as it will certainly help us to explain any variations that may occur in the months and years to come. In other words: If any of these processes fail, as happened with Chile’s defeat in the constitutional referendum, we absolutely must not accept the idea that soon after comes the end of the progressive cycle in the region.

This would be as unfair as it is wrong, because my starting hypothesis is that we are facing a more fragmented cycle, less compact than the previous one, and certainly very different trajectories of these governments compared to each other. Will be So far they have shown a great contradiction in foreign policy, in economic issues, in the way of communicating, in the horizon of the possible, in the way of relating to the adversary and to their own social bases , in the way of gaining authority . . , in the speed of decision-making and, why not, also in the degree of moderation of their actions.

Like fluid dynamics, each wave must be studied in depth and its properties and structure known: its amplitude, slope, periodicity, crest, trough, depression and wave type. Because not all waves are the same and not all waves are the same.


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