Unpopular Populism

In 2005, George W. Bush’s project for a pan-American trade area was sunk by loud protests during the fourth Summit of the Americas in Argentina. Now, as Latin America’s heads of state prepare to meet in Panama, the region's political environment is very different, with neither populism nor liberalism likely to take hold.

BOGOTÁ – In 2005, during the fourth Summit of the Americas, the host, Argentine President Néstor Kirchner, along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, scuppered US President George W. Bush’s hopes for a free-trade area in the Americas. Though a free-trade area is no longer on the agenda when Latin America’s current heads of state meet again in Panama on October 17-18, the mood will undoubtedly be less hostile. But regional understanding will still be hard to achieve.

Latin America in the first decade of this century was fertile ground for left-wing populism, especially in the eight member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). ALBA leaders were typically authoritarians who raged against foreign imperialists, suppressed opposition at home, controlled or intimidated the media, overspent, and generally distrusted free markets and free trade.

Today, with both Kirchner and Chávez out of the picture, that period of leftist populism is drawing to a close. Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, lacks experience and influence in foreign affairs. Kirchner’s successor, his widow Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is struggling. She recently suffered a heavy defeat in her Peronist party’s recent primaries, weakening its chances in the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections and undermining her authority during her remaining two years in office. In addition, she is now facing a legislative election in poor health, following surgery to remove a subdural hematoma in her brain.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/DU8GqMx;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.


    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?


    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now