In the early 2000s, a surprising process (for some) began in Latin America - it was called the "left turn
". Simply put, it was a noticeable swing of the political moods to the left, both in the moderate (Brazil, Argentina) and the more radical (Venezuela, Bolivia) sense. It came as a surprise particularly to those who were already busy praising the various neo-liberal theories of world development that were supposed to bring the ultimate utopia. Indeed, after suffering a series of political routs in the 80s and 90s, leftism had been pushed into a corner, and it was sure to welcome this new process as a sort of resurrection of the socialist ideas across the South American continent.
The main reason for this "leftist mega-turn" was the neo-liberal policies of the Latin American governments in the late 90s. Initially, the results looked promising for them: foreign investment soared in the region, economic growth accelerated, especially in the pre-'97 crisis years when the general GDP growth on the continent often passed beyond 5%+. But with the start of the Asian crisis, Latin America found itself in a critical condition once more. The capital inflow plunged sharply. In 1997 the region had enjoyed a massive growth of foreign investment, reaching well beyond $70 bn
... and just four or five years later - a meager $5 bn. That was a disaster.
In the early 2000s another crisis followed, caused by the depression in the US. It hit international trade the most and caused a serious damage on the most export-orientated countries of Latin America. Argentina defaulted
(causing hunger riots and the departure of one president after another), and Brazil was on the verge of bakruptcy as well. Thus, many hastened to conclude that the policy of neo-liberalism had finally completely discredited itself in Latin America. Most surveys across the region conducted in those years showed that 2/3 of the population deemed the neo-liberal economic system as "bad", or "very bad", claiming that privatisation hadn't brought any positive results, nearly half favoured a bigger role for the government in the economy. So it was no surprise that this was the soil where the seeds of the new "leftist turn" blossomed.( Collapse )