The “pink tide” passed by Mexico. However, the emergence of new social and political movements may represent a beacon of hope to revive the region’s Left.
John M. Ackerman
At first glance, Mexico would seem to be a lost cause for the Left. After the failure of the “Washington Consensus” to bring peace and prosperity to Latin America in the 1990s, almost every country joined the “pink tide” at some point over the last two decades, including Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, Bolivia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru. None of these experiments were perfect, and many were cut far too short, but each one of these countries demonstrated enough political flexibility to at least begin to respond to citizen discontent through institutional channels.
Mexico’s congealed political system, on the other hand, has not even started to develop practical alternatives to neoliberalism. Since 1982, the country has glided without interruption towards a neoliberal dystopia of increased wealth concentration, radical labor “flexibilization,” and the privatization of almost everything and anything in sight. Simultaneously, Mexico has maintained the same old authoritarian politics grounded in government repression and censorship, fraudulent elections, and a reverse “cultural revolution” bent on expunging the country’s long tradition of social activism and community resistance.
The progressive governments of Latin America are now under fire. The 2015 victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, the politically motivated impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil in August 2016, and the ongoing economic war against Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela—combined with the previous ousting of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in 2009 and Fernando Lugo in Paraguay in 2012—imply a clear resurgence of right-wing politics in the region.
In this context, the possibility of a left-wing revival in Mexico would seem to be even more of a pipe dream. If Mexico wasn’t able to accompany the shift to the left when conditions were relatively favorable, with high oil and commodities prices and an opening up in the geopolitical context, it would seem to be simply impossible for it to do so now, in the middle of a global economic downturn combined with concerted efforts by the United States to lock down “rebellious” Latin American states.
Surprisingly, the situation appears to be precisely the opposite. The lack of political and economic change over the last three decades in Mexico has turned it into a prime site for the renovation and strengthening of the Left. Today’s global climate of economic instability and ideological transformation has put the status quo, whatever that may be, at a distinct disadvantage. In Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina, for instance, the Right has used profound feelings of discontent to oust or challenge sitting progressive governments. Meanwhile, countries with progressive governments, such as in Bolivia, are faced with the challenging task of simultaneously combatting the ideological apparatus of their local oligarchies and defending the status quo....
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