Latin America’s Left Turn

Mexican-born political scientist Jorge G. Castañeda describes the resurgence of left-identified political leaders in Latin America as two-pronged. One form, most present in Chile, Uruguay and Brazil, has Marxist and Castroist roots, but has evolved to a practice based in social policy and internationalism within a market framework. The other – which Castañeda defines as “peculiarly Latin American” and is prevalent in the current governmental rule of Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia – has roots in populism and nationalism. The latter, Castañeda contests, should be deplored by the US and the rest of the industrialized world, as it is concerned more with the maintenance of an ideology rooted in a glorification of the working class rather than actual policy designed to empower the working class. Those in power who support this version of the left are responsible for the continued isolation of Latin America from world trade, as well as for using the despair of the poor as a tool rather than an incentive to make real change. The former version, however, should be encouraged as a positive new force capable of exercising internationalist, pro-free trade, pro-democracy policies that join, rather than polarize, Latin America and the US. This left, while rooted in the radicalism of Castro and the Russian Bolsheviks, has also made moves to becoming more moderate in recent diplomatic efforts towards US President George W. Bush and the World Trade Organization. Distinguishing between these two lefts, Castañeda reveals why stepping gingerly down the road of leftist politics is important for the Latin American people, as well as those governments interested in maintaining trade relations with the budding continent. – YaleGlobal

Latin America’s Left Turn

With all the talk of Latin America's turn to the left, few have noticed that there are really two lefts in the region
Jorge G. Castañeda
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Click here for the original article on Foreign Affairs website.

Jorge G. Castañeda is the author of “Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War” and “Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara.” Having resigned as Mexico’s foreign minister in 2003, he is currently Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American Studies at New York University.

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