Lula and Latin America’s Leftward Lurch
Lula and Latin America’s Leftward Lurch
Podcast / Latin America & Caribbean 1 minutes

Lula and Latin America’s Leftward Lurch

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Ivan Briscoe and Renata Segura, Crisis Group’s Latin America director and deputy director, about President Lula’s election win in Brazil and whether a new group of leftist leaders across Latin America can help end some of the continent’s crises, notably in Venezuela and Haiti.

Last Sunday in Brazil, former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won a tightly fought presidential run-off against incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s supporters took to the streets in angry protest against Lula. Although Bolsonaro narrowly lost out, he and the populist movement he has whipped up enjoy considerable support, hold a legislative majority and several key governorships, and remain a powerful force in Brazilian politics. Lula’s success comes at the heels of another leftist victory in Latin America – that of Gustavo Petro in Colombia. Petro promises “total peace” in Colombia, pledging to talk to the country’s remaining guerrilla movement and even drug traffickers to bring peace to the country’s violence-torn countryside. Lula and Petro are part of a crop of new leftist leaders across the continent, which though themselves diverse seem to mark a departure from the old authoritarian left at the helm in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. To some degree, their coming to power narrows the polarisation in Latin America that has undercut regional cooperation and could reinvigorate efforts to resolve Venezuela’s protracted political standoff, curb the political repression by Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua or tackle Haiti’s violent collapse. At home, though, Latin America’s new leftist leaders face huge challenges, with stagnant economies, big hikes in living costs and, in places, rampant criminal violence driving the discontent that right populists tend to profit from.  

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Ivan Briscoe and Renata Segura, Crisis Group’s Latin America director and deputy director, about Lula’s victory in Brazil and what the leftward shift in Latin American politics means for the region. They talk about the future of Bolsonaro and his movement. They also talk about Petro’s ambitious plans for Colombia but his seeming pragmatism in rolling them out, his restoration of relations with neighbouring Venezuela and how the U.S. has responded to his policies so far. They discuss if the new political leadership on the continent can help address some of the continent’s worst crises. They also talk about the continent’s political future – will left-wing governments endure or will the populist right bounce back? 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the situation in Brazil and Latin America, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Latin America and Caribbean regional page.

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