Between a mounting Petrobras corruption probe, a deepening financial crisis that has thrust her country into its worst economic recession in more than a quarter of a century and serious concerns that the growing Zika virus outbreak will shrink attendance at the August Olympic Games in Rio, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is now fighting for her political life as millions of voters take to the streets demanding her impeachment.
And the embattled Rousseff may just have driven the last nail into her own coffin with her blatant attempt at cronyism as she tried to shield her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from prosecution for money laundering charges by naming him as her chief of staff. (The Brazilian judiciary system is having a heyday lodging injunctions, counter-injunctions and counter-counter-injunctions as to the legitimacy of that appointment.)
Whether or not Rousseff survives her congressional impeachment hearings (most international analysts are betting that she won’t, and the mere suggestion of her ouster led to a long-awaited upward tick for the nation’s stock market last week), there is one thing that is certain: Brazilians have lost faith in the leftwing politics of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT), and the political pendulum in Brazil is now swinging to the right.
And Brazil is not the only country where leftist populism is losing traction.
Argentinians voted in a pro-market Mauricio Macri last November after 12 years of leftist rule under Cristina Kirchner and her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner almost drove the third-largest economy in Latin American into bankruptcy.
And while Havana’s walls may still be plastered with pictures of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, the old dictator’s younger brother Raúl (who welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle onto Cuban soil earlier this month) is now playing nice with Washington in order to get a 56-year-old trade embargo lifted and to court Yankee investment.
Even Venezuela, that old stalwart of Latin American Stalinism, is seeing the socialist bedrock of its Chavismo foundation being jolted to the core as the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) party maneuvers for the recall of President Nicolas Maduro after a landslide victory over his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in legislative elections last December (see “Maduro’s Last Stand,” which ran in this space on March 14).
Latin Americans have had their fill of socialist governments and corrupt leaders who jettison to power on preposterous promises of social justice only to plunder their country’s coffers for their personal gain.
There is a new affinity in Latin America for right and center-right political values and free-market capitalism, and elected officials who are not ready to adapt to and embrace the trending sentiments of their constituents may, like Rousseff, soon find themselves in an isolated tower awaiting their political beheading.
Thérèse Margolis can be contacted at [email protected].