Monday, November 01, 2004

Venceremos (We Will Win!)

The leftward march in Latin America showed its force over the weekend in 4 critical elections.

In the (once) middle-class, normally sedate country of Uruguay, a socialist named Tabare Vazquez, was elected President for the first time in the country’s history. The election also signaled the end of an era where the country was dominated by two centrist parties since the end of dictatorship in 1985.

In Venezuela, candidates loyal to leftist President Hugo Chavez swept 20 of 23 state governorships and won the influential Caracas mayor's post. It was a crushing defeat for the opposition, already demoralized by the president's victory in an August referendum. Chavez proclaimed on Monday "the revolution is here to stay," and that "Latin America's great people are rising up."

In Chile’s Mayoral and City Council elections, President Ricardo Lagos’ Socialist Party coalition, which has ruled Chile for 15 years, took 45 percent of votes and the right-wing opposition got 39 percent. While bolstering the President, the election was perhaps more significant for the strong showing of small leftist parties that are not yet represented in Congress.

And in Brazil, the Worker’s Party (PT) of President Lula da Silva, doubled the total municipalities they governed in elections that finished with run-offs over the weekend. The PT’s losses in a few large cities (to the Social Democrats) was blamed more on local issues than Lula’s leadership, which remains popular.


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