Latin Americaone of the most unequal regions in the world, faces 2023 with a renewed hegemony of the left and with a bleak economic horizon due to the still evident effects of the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine. The return to power of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil it will strengthen the progressive bloc, at the expense of what happens in the October elections in Argentina. The five main Latin American economies will have left-wing governments. The serious institutional crisis in Peru could affect a region hopeful with a possible political pact in Venezuela and with the definitive consummation of peace in columbia. The polls will also open to elect new leaders and parliamentarians in Paraguay (April) and Guatemala (June). While, Chili is heading towards a new constitutional course.
When putting on the presidential sash this Sunday, January 1, the historic leader of the Workers’ Party has assumed his third term. The veteran politician was already a tenant of the Planalto Palace between 2003 and 2010, a time when he also toured the region once progressive wave, the so-called pink tide, with Hugo Chávez, Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales or Lula himself as the most relevant political actors. However, the Brazil that Lula receives in 2023 is very different from that of two decades ago. The four years of far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro they have inoculated a broad layer of Brazilian society with unprecedented political and social intransigence.
The fight against hunger and the environmental issue will measure the success or failure of Lula’s administration
Lula defeated the former Army captain at the end of October but the Bolsonarism has not disappeared. harvested more than 58 million votes in the elections (49%) and is the majority force in a Congress dominated by the right. To get around this obstacle, Lula must forge alliances with center-right parties, just as he did during his first two terms. The former metal worker was politically reborn at the beginning of 2021, when the Supreme Court annulled the corruption conviction that led him to spend 19 months in prison. At 77, Lula inherits a country with a alarming environmental situation (The Amazon has suffered savage deforestation due to the collusion between Bolsonaro and agribusiness) and in which 33 million people go hungry, that is, 15% of the population. Those two axes –the fight against poverty and the environment – will measure the success or failure of its management.
The left will have its greatest asset in Lula in a 2023 with a clear dominance of progressive governments. Just a setback for Peronism in the October elections in Argentina could upset the balance of power with the right. The top five economies of Latin America they will be led by left-wing governments. Lula (Brazil), Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico), Alberto Fernández (Argentina), Gustavo Petro (Colombia) and Gabriel Boric (Chile) are leaders of different profiles, but united by their will to social transformation. The left will also be represented in Bolivia (Luis Arce), Honduras (Xiomara Castro) and Venezuela (Nicolás Maduro), among other countries.
Both Lula and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have suffered legal persecution from the extreme right
Of all of them, only Lula was part of the progressive wave as president in the first decade of the century. The current vice president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchnergoverned between 2007 and 2015 but has announced that he will not present any candidacy in 2023. Like Lula, Kirchner has been the favorite target of the reactionary judicial apparatus. The lawfarethat is, political persecution through the courts, is already the involutionist tool in fashion in this first quarter of a century in Latin America. Kirchner has just been sentenced to six years in prison and life political disqualification for a corruption case in which the prosecutors did not provide a single piece of evidence against her. She will not go to prison because her privileges as vice president protect her and she can appeal to the Supreme Court. But the ruling has managed to disrupt the electoral scenario Next year.
if in Brazil and Argentina prevails lawfare as a political hammer of the right, in Peru another type of “soft blow” has been chosen, already used previously in the region. A Dilma Rousseff they kicked her out of the Planalto Palace for an improbable impeachment parliamentary in which the Brazilian right and extreme right conspired. Something similar had happened before to Fernando Lugo in Paraguayan. to peruvian Pedro Castillo Congress dismissed him a few weeks ago after the rural teacher attempted a desperate self-coup with no apparent help other than his mirror, a very serious mistake that has landed him in jail and has left the country plunged into a colossal political and social crisis.
Peru’s Congress, controlled by reactionaries, has gagged the left-wing government
Controlled by reactionary forces, the Congress of Peru He saw the expeditious path to remove the president after a year and a half of uninterrupted harassment. Dina Boluarte, Castillo’s successor, will pilot in 2023 a country in tatters, with a population totally disconnected from the political class. There will be no elections until April 2024 by decision of a lower house that has gagged the new government and that he has looked the other way while the gutters in the south of the country were filling up with the dead from the repression of the protests.
Negotiations in Venezuela and Colombia
The Peruvian puzzle appears as the main factor of uncertainty in the region. Venezuelafor his part, seems to bet on the political dialogue. Talks between the Maduro government and the opposition have resumed in Mexico and have already produced a first agreement to deal with the humanitarian crisis. urged by the power supply problems As a result of the war in Ukraine, Washington is trying to smooth things over with Caracas and welcomes the rapprochement between Chavismo and the opposition. But any political pact will depend on Maduro’s willingness to call a presidential election which will be supervised by international observers, as claimed by their interlocutors.
Gustavo Petro is the first leftist president in the recent history of Colombia
The one who is most interested in calming down the waters in Venezuela is its neighbor Colombia. Gustavo Petrothe first left-wing president in the country’s recent history, has already shown his undoubted political skills to become one of the mainstays of the progressive bloc in the region, along with Lula and López Obrador. Petro needs Maduro to bring peace talks to fruition started with the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN).
gabriel boric He has also shown a very defined political personality despite his youth (36 years). He combines tough pragmatism with a commitment to social progress. He did not break down when Chileans rejected in a referendum, by an overwhelming majority (62%), the Constitution that he, with some reservations, had supported. The country’s leader faces 2023 with the announcement of a new constituent process. The text rejected in September was one of the most advanced in social rights in the world. The Constitution that replaces the current norm (approved in the time of the dictator Augusto Pinochet) will no longer be a refoundational proposal, but if it is approved, Boric and his government will undoubtedly emerge stronger.
Progressive governments struggle to reduce inequality, in a region submerged in poverty
The political fluctuations in the subcontinent will be accompanied in 2023 by a downward economic evolution, according to the preliminary balance of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). GDP will only grow by 1.3% compared to the 3.7% forecast for this year by the same body. The top five economies will be affected by that slowdown. It doesn’t seem like an ideal scenario. reduce inequality in a region in which the wealthiest 10% accumulate 77% of the wealth, while the poorest 50% only enjoy 1% of wealthaccording to a recent report by the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean.