For the first time since 1998, conservatives won a majority of the Venezuelan legislature. This is a rebuke to the policies of Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. It has also led to a lot of hand-wringing in the United States about the state of the Latin American left:
Coming on the heels of the recent victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, and Dilma’s impending impeachment in Brazil, and low polls for Michelle Bachelet in Chile, the Latin American left—which, since Chávez’s first election in 1998, has witnessed a remarkable run—is in serious trouble. It is too early to know if we are moving into a new era of a restored right, one which uses the now widely accepted language of social democracy to undermine social democracy. (Ernesto Semán has a sharp analysis on what Macri’s victory might mean over at NACLA.)
There’s much at stake, for, in addition to having presided over a return of social-democratic redistribution, the South American left over the last decade and a half created an effective counterbalance to the United States, on issues such as trade, debt, rendition, torture, and war. Macri has already signaled that he would move away from trying to create an integrated regional market anchored by Brazil and Venezuela (that could negotiate better terms regarding the United States) and lock Argentina into the Washington-brokered Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As the Latin American left likes to say, the conjuncture is definitely fluid.
I don’t think the Latin American left is in crisis. Thankfully, Latin American countries by and large now have established, functioning democracies. They are not perfect – no country is – but they appear to function fairly and reflect the views of the people. Chávez’s government was incompetent in the end and created an unsustainable economy centered around oil. To maintain the support of the people, the Latin American left needs to provide good governance and rule effectively.
There’s no good reason not to repost the legendary Venezuelan state animation created when Chávez died because it’s awesome in its weirdness: