Countertide in Latin America
The Latin American “pink tide” saw country after county elect left-wing governments that delivered expanded social protections and challenged the US-driven neoliberal order. Now, twenty years on, the tide has turned: right-wing businessmen run Argentina and Chile, a fascist sympathizer is president of Brazil, and a social crisis swirls in Venezuela, the former epicenter of the Bolivarian Revolution. In retrospect, the limits of the fading progressive era are clear: by retaining an economic strategy centered on resource extraction, countries remained enmeshed in the global capitalist system and vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations. In oil-dependent Venezuela, in particular, a commodities crash has taken a severe toll, leading to hyperinflation and outmigration. A social calamity for many, the crisis has been an opportunity for resurgent conservative forces both within and outside the country. Notably, US President Donald Trump, who has long considered invading Venezuela, has brought back prominent neoconservative Cold Warriors to push his cause. In line with US goals, self-appointed president and US-backed protest leader Juan Guaidó has already tried wresting control of the national oil company from Nicolas Maduro’s government. As countries around the world take predictable sides, the whole affair takes on an astringent Cold War odor.