Latin American Populism.

Author:Theodore, Rebecca

PRES. DONALD TRUMP officially has recognized the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim president of Venezuela, leaving critics to wonder if this is another switch to right-wing populism in Latin America.

Since winning one of the most-controversial elections Brazil ever has faced, far-right populist Jair Messias Bolsonaro has started a new age of Brazilian diplomacy and foreign policy in Latin America. While many political scientists believe Bolsonaro is a singular phenomenon in Latin America and Caribbean politics, accumulating evidence suggests that the authoritarian regimes of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua now paint populism as the new weapon against various aspects of liberal democracies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to Google Trends, interest in populism has grown fourfold since the summer of 2016, especially ramping up in December 2016 following Trump's unexpected election victory. However, looking at the populist trend in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is important to see how the weaponization of populism is opening the floodgates of militarist conflict, and the destruction of constitutional rights in Brazil. On the other hand, the themes of anti-capitalism, social justice, pacifism, and anti-globalization cannot go by unnoticed in the left-wing populist agenda of Nicolas Madura's administration in Venezuela, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls illegitimate.

For sure, right- and left-wing populism in Latin America and the Caribbean also are attacking individual rights and freedoms, and the post-truth politics that reinforces it. The old communal truths on democracy rapidly are breaking down in Latin America and the Caribbean. Indisputably, Venezuela's Madura regime is responsible for the oppression of its people, marginalization, disrespect for the constitution and the rule of law, true and fair elections, and, in its wake, has created an exodus of migrants in search of survival and development. However, the same is true for Brazil's Bolsonaro, where his discourses and actions stimulate hatred, intolerance, misogyny, and discrimination against Brazilians of color, thus invoking an indomitable phenomenon in Brazilian politics.

From this, it must be seen that democracy is becoming a lightning rod of dislike in Latin America and the Caribbean...

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