Latin America since the Left Turn

Latin America since the Left Turn

Latin America since the Left Turn

Latin America since the Left Turn


In the early twenty-first century, the citizens of many Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, elected left-wing governments, explicitly rejecting and attempting to reverse the policies of neoliberal structural economic adjustment that had prevailed in the region during the 1990s. However, in other countries such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru continuity and even extension of the neoliberal agenda have been the norm.

What were the consequences of rejecting the neoliberal consensus in Latin America? Why did some countries stay on the neoliberal course? Contributors to Latin America Since the Left Turn address these questions and more as they frame the tensions and contradictions that currently characterize Latin American societies and politics. Divided into three sections, the book begins with an examination of the political economy, from models of development, to taxation and spending patterns, to regionalization of trade and human migration. The second section analyzes the changes in democracy and political identities. The last part explores the themes of citizenship, constitutionalism, and new forms of civic participation. With essays by the foremost scholars in the field, Latin America Since the Left Turn not only delves into the cases of specific countries but also surveys the region as a whole.

Contributors : Isabella Alcaniz, Sandra Botero, Marcella Cerrutti, George Ciccariello-Maher, Tula G. Falleti, Roberto Gargarella, Adrian Gurza Lavalle, Juliet Hooker, Evelyne Huber, Ernesto Isunza Vera, Nora Lustig, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Emilio A. Parrado, Claudiney Pereira, Thamy Pogrebinschi, Irina Carlota Silber, David Smilde, John D. Stephens, Maristella Svampa, Oscar Vega Camacho, Gisela Zaremberg.


Tulia G. Falleti and Emilio A. Parrado

If the ideas and policies of the Washington Consensus, such as achieving macroeconomic stability, pursuing free-market economic reforms, and increasing trade openness, dominated much of Latin America at the turn of the twentieth century, the onset of the new millennium found the region swerving left. Jorge Castañeda (2006) described the experience as “Latin America’s Left Turn.” It included openly rejecting the premises of the Washington Consensus as well as reorienting toward alternative policies that stressed social improvements, a more egalitarian distribution of wealth, political mobilization, and independence from international economic organizations (Castañeda 2006).

However, the Left Turn was not uniform or homogeneous. At one extreme, the election of left-wing parties in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela triggered programs that attempted to reverse the reforms of the 1990s and pushed the countries into what was sometimes considered a post-neoliberal or progressive phase. At the other extreme, in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, continuity and even extension of the neoliberal agenda remained the norm. Today, the return of the political right to power through democratic elections in Argentina in 2015 and its imposition through the impeachment and outing of leftist president Dilma Rousseff in Brazil in 2016, as well as prior attempted institutional coups and changes in Honduras and Paraguay, raise the question of the likely continuity, attained effects, and projected legacy of the Left Turn.

Considerable research has been devoted to the political forces and socioeconomic conditions prompting the leftist reorientation (e.g., Cameron and . . .

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