In Latin America right in retreat as left wins more elections

first_imgRelated posts:Latin American summit opens in Cuba with attack on US spying Cuba embargo under pressure as Obama urged to pull down barriers Bolivia’s Evo Morales: Obama should lift the embargo and return Guantánamo Naval base to Cuba Guatemala-Honduras customs union first step in regional development plan BOGOTÁ, Colombia — More than two decades after the Cold War, during which the United States backed anti-communist military rulers and pushed free-market policies in Latin America, conservative governments have virtually disappeared from the region.The leftward shift has been underway since the start of the millennium, but in recent years, the political axis of the hemisphere has tilted even further, as candidates who promise greater social spending and wealth redistribution win again and again. When the term of Chilean conservative Sebastián Piñera ends in March, right-leaning presidents will be in power only in small Central American nations and Paraguay.“I think it’s difficult for conservative candidates to move forward because inequality is such an entrenched issue,” said Ana Quintana, a Latin America expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “And it’s hard to implement free-market, institutional reforms when you need to make sure a significant portion of the population can get enough to eat.”Latin America’s right could once identify itself as pro-business and supportive of law and order and as closely aligned with the United States. But many of the region’s leftists and centrists have co-opted some of those issues as they have become more moderate, regional observers say, leaving conservatives with less to run on.“I think the right is struggling to define itself in the new environment,” said Carl Meacham, the Americas director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.Meacham, who was a policy adviser to former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar (R), said Latin America’s conservatives could do more to emphasize “market approaches to increased social mobility,” rather than the state-oriented strategies offered by leftists.“Folks in current leadership positions on the right don’t seem to have the answers,” he said. “We need a reset and new, younger voices.”While dominant, Latin America’s leftists are hardly a monolithic bloc, and significant policy differences have emerged, especially on matters of trade protectionism and relations with the United States.But in big, geopolitical ways, the region has undergone a massive realignment. With Washington’s diplomatic attention largely focused elsewhere, on Asia and the Middle East, Latin America’s shift has resulted in declining U.S. influence.Evidence of this will be on display this week, when 33 heads of state and top officials are due to meet in Havana for a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a regional organization founded in 2011 as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).The summit’s host will be Cuba’s 82-year-old leader, Raúl Castro.While the fledgling organization has played mostly a symbolic role so far, its meeting — in communist-run Cuba, of all places — is especially notable given that no date has been set for the next Summit of the Americas, the OAS-sponsored gatherings that have until now been Latin America’s most important multilateral assemblies.At the last summit, held in Colombia in April 2012, leaders from across the hemisphere’s political spectrum displayed rare consensus by insisting that future summits should not exclude Cuba, which is not an OAS member. The summit’s agenda was largely obscured by a prostitution scandal among the Secret Service agents sent to guard President Barack Obama.CELAC was partly the creation of late Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chávez, who viewed it as a vehicle for the long-lost Latin American integration dreams of his idol, 19th-century independence hero Simón Bolívar.With Cávez’s death last March, the more radical end of Latin America’s left is without a clear leader. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, is viewed as far too preoccupied with his own political survival to try to assume his mantle.“Maduro is no international leader,” said José Rafael Zanoni, a former Venezuelan ambassador to Egypt and Iran. “He’s not even a leader in Venezuela.”If anything, the strong-armed statist model that Chávez promoted during his 14-year rule has served as a cautionary tale for leftist candidates in the region.They are quicker to identify with the path charted by Brazil’s popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, characterized by greater social spending on the poor but also an embrace of private enterprise and global capital.The Chávez-vs.-Lula comparison became an oversimplified prism for the region’s leftist tendencies, analysts say, but it remains a useful gauge.“The two defining elements are relations with the United States and relations with the private business community,” said Carlos Romero, a foreign affairs analyst in Caracas. “Venezuela represents the extreme.”The EmbassyStill, in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, the Chávez school remains strong, as leftists in those countries have thrived through increased confrontation with Washington, the concentration of executive power and in many cases, attempts to stifle the press and political opponents.But in other countries, particularly in Central America, Washington continues to wield enormous influence. In Honduras, locals still refer to the U.S. diplomatic mission as “The Embassy,” as if it were the only one in the country.Farther south, Latin American relations have diversified, particularly as a result of booming trade with China and the emergence of Brazil as South America’s dominant economic and geopolitical power. Brazilian leftist President Dilma Rousseff is running for re-election in November, and the outcome may be partly determined by her government’s management of this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament.In Mexico, the conservative National Action Party is out of power once more after 12 years in office, but President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have assimilated many policies that were once associated with the right. During his first year in office, Peña Nieto has opened Mexico’s government oil monopoly to private investment, worked to expand free-trade agreements with the United States and others, and weakened Mexico’s powerful unions.The future of free tradeIncreasingly, analysts say, the overarching division in Latin America is not right vs. left, but free trade vs. protectionism. While countries such as Argentina, Venezuela and, to a large extent, Brazil continue to protect domestic industries and intervene heavily in their economies, nations such as Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico are backing the U.S. proposal for a Pacific Rim free-trade zone.Colombia, a key U.S. ally, has traditionally been a bastion of Latin American conservatism. But President Juan Manuel Santos has moved toward the center, engaging in peace talks with FARC guerrillas and feuding with former President Álvaro Uribe, the standard-bearer of Colombia’s right. Santos is up for re-election in May and has a large lead in polls over a challenger from Uribe’s party.But Colombia is an outlier in the region, said León Valencia, a former guerrilla turned political analyst in Bogotá. “The winning electoral strategy in Latin America right now is left-populism,” Valencia said. “In Colombia, the left is anti-populist because it’s a radical, Marxist left that’s linked to violence.”In addition to Colombia and Brazil, presidential elections are also scheduled this year in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay and Bolivia. Leftists are strong contenders in most of the races.During the Cold War, the United States worried that Latin America’s poor masses would heed the siren call of communist radicals and Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution. With the consolidation of democratic governance since then, few nations have voted for dramatic upheaval, but they tend to back candidates who boost social spending and offer a wider safety net, said Geoff Thale, program director at the Washington Office on Latin America.“Greater political participation by the poor and middle class has led to political movements and parties that call for less extremes of inequality,” he said.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Related The best hotels in Dublin for every budget

first_img RelatedThe best hotels in Dublin for every budgetPlanning a city break to Dublin but haven’t booked your accommodation? Don’t panic, because we’ve rounded up the best options, whether you’re a backpacker on a budget or a fan of five-star luxury.24 hours in Dublin: a video city guideVisiting Dublin but stuck for time? Fear not, Dublin city centre is so compact that it’s possible to see all the main sights and get in a few sneaky pints in less than 24 hours. Here’s our quick guide to spending a morning, afternoon and evening in Dublin’s fair city.Cheap bank holiday breaks for a last-minute getawayBank holidays are the best excuse for a last minute break. If you want to jet off somewhere new for the upcoming long weekend, we’ve got a few suggestions (and flight deals) to tempt you. Dublin Just a short hop over the Irish Sea, Dublin is a quick and easy… What to doThe city spans both banks of the River Liffey, which makes a pretty walk on a spring or summer weekend. Wander over O’Connell Bridge, an elegant granite bridge lit by lanterns at night, and for contrast head to the new Samuel Beckett Bridge, a striking cable-stayed bridge that opened in late 2009.For further picturesque ambling, visit the Georgian area of Dublin and Trinity College, Ireland’s top university. There’s a good guide to the Georgian district on the VisitDublin website. Highlights include Merrion Square and Henrietta Street. If you visit Trinity College head to the library and the Old Book of Kells exhibition, which costs €9 to enter. There are campus tours mid-May to late September for €10 that detail the history of the college and its alumni, and offer an introduction to the library, lasting 30 minutes.On Yer Bike!London isn’t the only city to recently launch a cycle hire scheme. DublinBikes cost €2 for a three-day ticket and the first half hour is free, after that it’s €1.50 for up to two hours.Free MuseumsThere are also a few excellent free museums in Dublin – the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street, the Natural History Museum on Merrion Square and the Hugh Lane Gallery at Parnell Square, which features a reconstruction of artist Francis Bacon’s studio.Dublin PubsYou might have missed Dublin’s St Patrick’s Festival in mid-March, but there are plenty of opportunities to sample the city’s black gold, other known as Guinness.Pubs remain the heart of Dublin’s nightlife, and one of the longest-standing is The Stag’s Head in Dame Court, which offers live music on Sunday evenings or there’s The Palace, a characterful Victorian pub on two levels on Fleet Street.The Guinness Storehouse at St James’s Gate may lack the atmosphere of the pubs on Temple Bar, but offers the best view of the city from its Gravity Bar. You’ll find yourself in this rooftop bar at the end of a tour through the production, history and famous advertising campaigns of Dublin’s most famous export. Entry costs €13.50 per adult, and is well worth it for that pint-with-a-view.Where to eatAs for where to chow down, Ireland’s other famous gastronomic treat is seafood, more specifically: oysters. If you’re in the city on a Saturday, head to the St Martin Shellfish stall at Temple Bar’s Saturday market.It’s usually in Meeting House Square, but the square is closed while a retractable roof is fitted, so it has moved to Cow’s Lane, East Essex Street and Curved Street until the end of 2011. The stall is worth seeking out though, serving up half a dozen Atlantic oysters with Irish soda bread and white wine for €9.50.For a delicious home-made breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea, try the Queen of Tarts on Cows Lane. The soup and soda bread are legendary, and the Irish oatmeal and buttermilk pancakes make a delicious weekend breakfast.Another one of my personal favourites for lunch in Dublin is Avoca, which has two cafes in Dublin. The Suffolk Street one is part of a seven-floor mini department store offering clothes, homeware and gifts as well as the cafe. The fresh daily tarts, cakes, bread and soup are good value and delicious.Where to stayThere are a host of hotels and B&Bs in Dublin that will fit your budget without seeing you check into one of the city’s many backpacker hostels. My first suggestion is The Schoolhouse Hotel in Ballsbridge, just outside town.This traditional-style four-star costs from €90 a night and serves a generous Irish breakfast. For a touch of Georgian history a bit closer to the city centre, Clifden House is a 15-bedroom hotel in Gardiner Place. It costs from €60 a night and had a communal lounge and renowned breakfast.If you fancy the social side of a hostel, try Avalon House on Aungier Street, which starts at €27 a night. It has free wi-fi and breakfast, games room, and organised city tours and nights out.Get thereYou can find cheap flights to Dublin from most major city airports in the UK.Answer by Ginny Light – TimesOnline travel editorGot a travel question? Email and we’ll get our panel of travel experts to answer your question.Read more: Ask SkyscannerReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map I’m off to Dublin soon, but I’ve heard it has become a pretty pricey place. How can we ‘do Dublin’ without breaking the bank?Emma, ScotlandDear Emma,Dublin is a city of pubs, walks and fun, and it’s perfect for a budget break. Here’s my guide to a weekend trip to the city that won’t break the bank.last_img read more