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With the Americas

Against populism and corruption, democracy, justice and equality

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With the Americas
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Brazil's stability

Religious populism at polls

Latin America is not immune to turbulences experienced by world's democracies. This has been reflected in Summit of Americas that has just concluded in Lima. The meeting has been characterized both by internal tensions experienced by some participating countries, immersed in decisive electoral processes, and by implications of Odebrecht scandal, which has reached a continental scale. To this we must add absence of Donald Trump of a forum that in previous editions had served as a privileged meeting where to file differences between President of United States and his Latin American counterparts.

Traditional political parties, and even democratic ideal, are being challenged all over world. In Latin America, once Chavismo has been cornered in Venezuela, pendulum has oscillated and answering space has been occupied by right-wing populism. Of it re are several examples, with variations according to each country: from Fujimorismo in Peru to Uribe in Colombia, going through strength of movements of evangelical character, as just checked in Costa Rican presidentials, where religion He broke into election campaign. It highlights case of Brazil, where right-wing Jair Bolsonaro has, according to polls, important possibilities to rise with victory, which would confirm concerns about an abrupt swing towards extremism in several countries at same time.

It worries that instead of containing Trump, great absent of Lima, some on continent try to imitate it or to enter in competition with it. The current President of United States, who has excused his presence alleging severity of crisis in Syria, has opened door to emotional political gestures and statements in which anything goes, without paying much attention to its geopolitical consequences. It is also case of candidate for presidency of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who also practises a discourse on and challenger.

Once Chavismo is cornered, pendulum oscillates towards right-wing populism

Politically, summit has served to certify that so-called Bolivarian Axis has ceased to exist. Venezuela is — with varying degrees of nuance — example of what should not happen. And effects are even seen in countries that were partners of Hugo Chavez and who have distanced mselves from Nicolás Maduro. In Ecuador, president, Lenin Moreno, has definitively broken with his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who was in turn in anor way than Caracas. The same goes for Evo Morales ' Bolivia.

The or great cloud that has been present at summit is corruption, a scourge whose combat is taking on notable political figures and causing profound institutional convulsions. The best example is host nation itself. Less than a month ago it was not in plans of Martín Vizcarra to act as President of Peru in official events of meeting. But he was obliged to wiring resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, accused of corruption. Kuczynski swelled list of Presidents of Peru imprisoned, investigated or in search and capture by same accusation. Anor example: The summit has been held without echoes of imprisonment last weekend of Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes.

It is not surprising that corruption is central axis of discussion in electoral processes as important as those of Mexico or Brazil. But one cannot forget that this political earthquake is taking place because, unlike in past, judicial mechanisms responsible for unmasking and prosecuting it are working.

Latin America should prevent lower income population from following system

In face of this panorama, topics of deeper focus are being relegated to agenda. This is case with numerous trade war fronts opened by Trump or growing influence of Chinese investments. Latin American citizens want to end corruption, consolidate democracies and individual rights, and deepen reforms that generate development. But y also demand that inequality be reduced and social inclusion worked. Latin America must find a way to prevent lower-income population or directly living in poverty from being left outside political system and thrown into arms of populist warlords.

Finally, it is not possible to stop regretting absence of Spain as a reference on continent. It is consequence of lack of content of our external action in region. A work that has been carried out by companies and civil society for a quarter of a century, but has not been accompanied by a State policy. It would be good if Spain abandoned rhetoric and gave concrete steps to regain prominence and political presence in region. All democracies are through similar problems and we need each or.

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