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Latin America continues to "turn left"
Latest Updated by 2006-01-18 09:37:37
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More than ten Latin American countries this year will hold general elections, in which, except for ambiguities in a few of them, center-leftists will far outdo rightist parties in the likelihood of victory. It then becomes predictable that a new generation of center-left leaders will step onto the political stage, probably furthering the "left turn" of Latin America.

Latin America has the soil for leftist movements.

Long left behind in economy and eager to grow rich and strong, Latin America has become the "experimental field" for various thoughts in the world. Whether European theories or U.S. mode, they have never failed to see believers, critics or opponents in Latin America. Ever from the 1950s, many Latin American countries have had experienced governance by left parties, some of whom, such as Maria Eva Duarte de Peron in Argentina and Martin Torrijos in Panama, succeeded, leaving pleasant memories to their people.

Economic globalization pushes Latin America to turn left.

Ever since the year 2001, the World Economic Forum in Switzerland's Davos has been held in the company of the anti-globalization World Social Forum in Brazil's Porto Alegre, a gathering held to attack globalization and free trade. The reason why Brazil plays host of the World Social Forum is that as many Latin American politicians and scholars are concerned, the region does not benefit much from the globalization process but has been seriously affected. Middle and lower classes even generally blame economic globalization and neo-liberalism for the rising unemployment rate and deteriorating welfare.

From the perspective of international politics, Latin America's left turn will have a biggest impact on the relation between the United States and the region.

For as long as half a century, Cuba has remained America's sole "enemy" in the region but since Hugo Chavez took presidency in Venezuela, U.S. rightist think tanks publicly labeled both countries "axis of evil" in the western hemisphere. At the year-end of 2005, Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism claimed victory in Bolivia's presidential election, soon after which such wording as "axis of evil" cropped up again in the United States. For quite some time in the future, the three countries mentioned above -- Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia -- will definitely pose greater challenge to the United States in its influence in Latin America.

Unlike Venezuelan and Bolivian leaders who openly voiced anti-U.S. views, center-left leaders in a majority of Latin American countries hold a moderate stance towards the United States, that is, they on the one hand seek solidarity and self-improvement, and on the other hand maintain good relations with the United States.

In economic terms, Latin America's left turn is providing a new perspective for people to think about the mode of development.

Neo-liberalism is very popular in present-day world, but has been said "No" from Latin America in polls and votes. As pushed in the tough globalization tides, Latin America has developed a lot of misgivings towards free trade as some countries are picking up again the shield of trade protectionism. Whether or not they'll make it in their new path, perhaps only time can tell.

With regard to people's livelihood, Latin America, turning left, has remarkably increased its input into social welfare.

Quite a few countries in the region, typically Argentina, had copied from Europe a set of social security system. In Argentina, education and medical care are free of charge (except some private institutions serving the small-numbered rich), unemployment insurance and pension have both been widely available, which people take for granted. Left-wing governments, after taking power, increased investment in public programs and welfare schemes, and this will help raise people's satisfaction and improve social stability.

This year will see raging storms in the political circles of Latin America, whose carrying on a left turn is drawing more and more attention.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: People's Daily website
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