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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Fading polarization" in Latin America?

Alexei Barrionuevo has an interesting and insightful analysis today in the New York Times. The headline writer covers it with "A Sign of Latin America’s Fading Polarization." I'm not so sure that the article supports the contention that Chile's recent election of a "right-wing" businessman, Sebastian Pinera, portends fading divisions in the region as a whole. In fact, as Michael Shifter of The Latin American Dialogue is quoted in the article: “Latin America is not swinging in one direction or another; it is swinging in many different directions at the same time." Polarization in the region seems to be rife, though I believe the "right" vs. "left" distinctions don't hold true the way they did during the Cold War. Barrionuevo's piece touches on this. There is still a huge degree of rhetorical division and polarization between mature pragmatic political leaders of the left, center and right -- such as Pinera, Lula da Silva in Brazil and Calderon in Mexico -- and the screaming anti-Yankee demagogues of the Bolivarian states, led by Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. Anyway, trends in Latin America are always flimsy and short-lived. The pendulum swings back and forth and always has. See NYT's story.

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