Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: An Introduction
Future historians may well look back upon the beginning of the twenty-first century as a major turning point in the social and economic history of the Americas. In quick succession, left-wing political parties were elected to office in the majority of Latin American countries, and close to 60 percent of Latin America’s total population is currently governed by leaders who consider themselves to be on the left of the political spectrum (Arnson 2007b: 3). This shift to the left started when, in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez ascended to power in a landslide victory in 1998 with a strong commitment to progressive social policy and the promise of developing a “new socialism for the 21st century.” This was followed by the election of Ricardo Lagos, leader of the Socialist Party of Chile in 2000, and the electoral victory of Lula da Silva’s Worker’s Party in Brazil in 2002, both promising to address the dismal situation of their countries’ poor and to modify prevailing neoliberal policies. In South America, Argentina and Bolivia followed suit, with Nestor Kirchner ascending to power in Argentina in 2003 and Evo Morales, leader of the first indigenous socialist movement in Bolivia —El Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS)—entering office on an anti-neoliberal platform in 2005.