The “pink wave” and the illusion of a Latin American light left

There is a tendency in the search for an explanation for the political movement in Latin America that gained strength with the election of the leftist Gustavo Petro, last weekend, in Colombia. Many hearts full of candor justify Petro’s victory as confirmation of a chain reaction, which began in 2018 with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in Mexico, and which passed through the conquests of Alberto Fernández, in Argentine; Luis Arce, in Bolivia; Pedro Castillo, in Peru; Gabriel Boric, in Chile; and that should reach its apex with the election of Lula in Brazil. Consequently, the burial of the right and the victory against fascism that threatened the region.

Many analysts resorted to the figure of the “pink wave” as a way of expressing that the return of the left to power in the region did not represents and will not represent a repetition of the revolutionary aspirations led by the late Hugo Chávez and endorsed by his Bolivarian partners – among whom were Lula and Dilma Rousseff.

The theory of the “pink wave” or light left it is based on the principle that the new crop of leftists who come to power do not have in their favor a commodity boom – like the oil fortune that allowed Chávez to finance chaos inside and outside Latin America. These new leaders would also no longer have the conditions to refound their countries or the socialist revolutionary rage, which has always resulted in the destruction of democracy and the foundation of broken economies and dictatorial regimes.


Considering the collapse of the formal economy as a constraint on Bolivarian governments is a sin that slips into innocence. The illicit economy is a growing and, in some cases, dominant force in the region. There is no better example than that of Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela. With an oil production that today is lower than that measured in the years 30 of the last century, the country plunged into the biggest economic and humanitarian crisis in the West. Drug trafficking, gold smuggling, corruption and money laundering have filled the gaps left by the collapse of legal activities and have become a powerful source of revenue and power.

Bolivia of the cocaleros of Evo Morales is another example. Trafficking power and political power mix in such a way that it is a complex task to separate what is one thing or another. When looking at business activities, there is a dark gray area, where well-known characters from the world of politics and drug trafficking cohabit with the national productive sector.

Resources may be lacking to do what they should be done (from the perspective of regular governments), but there is no shortage of money for these governments to do what they need to do to stay in power.

The illicit economy also shows its strength in Peru . For many, the Castillo president seems to have become a light version of the Castillo candidate. But, in silence, Peru is plunging into a much more intense drug trafficking model. As in AMLO’s Mexico, Peru has expanded poppy crops for heroin production.

And the pressure to legalize drug production, under the pretext that it will put an end to trafficking, basically it serves to bring the money that circulates outside into the official box.

In the Colombian case, the defeated candidate Rodolfo Hernández himself even promised free drugs in response to trafficking. As a containment measure, the State was going to squander taxpayers’ money to pay for the addiction of some and fill the pockets of suppliers. An idea of ​​jerico without size.

Petro won’t do much different. It is speculated that he will do little in the policy of repression of trafficking and should strive for decriminalization. With like-minded AMLO in Mexico, the combination could be explosive.

In the coming days, the commission dedicated to “reparatory justice” will publish its final report. One of the drafts calls for a new Constitution for Colombia. The text will be a knife and cheese in hand for Petro to say that he is just following the advice of a commission that seeks to consolidate peace in the country.

It will be cool, but it will do the same as it has already been done in the past by the extinct Bolivarians. Reinvent the country through a new Magna Carta, making it seem like it is only meeting the needs of the people.

Chile fell into this trap, still in the administration of Sebastián Piñera, in an effort to tame the radicals who took to the streets to promote a series of riots in the year of 2019.

The pragmatism that the new left-wing leaders will undertake is nothing more than the cleverness of doing better ( in their perspective) what they need to do to stay in power, without repeating the mistakes and abuses.

The communism that the Latin American right sees as a great threat exists in the field of ideas, but its realization – if we can call it that – takes place through the convergence with crime that has advanced over politics at unprecedented speed and capabilities.

National transnational crime is at the origin of the corrosion of security public in the hemisphere. And he is also directly involved in the implosion of democracy. Just to cite the Brazilian example, PCC members refer to the organization as a party. They say this because they know what they are capable of and what they have become. Brazilian authorities also know very well, and for a long time, how crime has infiltrated institutional pillars and exerts its influence from east to west of the national political spectrum.

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