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What Does 2018 Have in Store for Latin America?

A woman raises the Mexican flag. (Illinois Springfield / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While many Americans are focused on the midterms coming up in late 2018, their neighbors to the south have a few upcoming elections of their own. Leaders will be chosen in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Venezuela in the new year, and there’s some speculation that 2018 will bring political upheaval and, in some cases, perhaps even a swing left.

Laurence Blair writes for The Guardian:

The anti-establishment tide that has swept much of the world is set to break over Latin America in 2018. Some 350 million voters are due to head to the polls in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Paraguay to elect new presidents – and in several cases, potentially slam a defibrillator into their ailing political systems.

Seizing the headlines in July will be Mexico, where Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the perennial candidate of the left, will face off against José Antonio Meade, the technocratic successor to Enrique Peña Nieto. Few will miss the incumbent, whose term of office has been stained by a failure to rein in the country’s soaring murder rate, and pervasive corruption – in which the presidential couple themselves have been implicated. … Brazil’s Michel Temer, meanwhile, probably views even Peña Nieto’s meagre ratings with envy. Temer – a rightwing 77-year-old career politician who helped remove Dilma Rousseff in last year’s controversial impeachment – has seen his approval ratings drop as low as 3% amid widespread allegations of corruption, which have at times seemed to implicate Brazil’s entire political class.

… Across Latin America, voters will be led not by ideology but issues – such as the demand for cleaner government, rejection of entrenched political groups, or, in Colombia, concerns over the peace process with the leftwing former rebels of the Farc.

Blair goes on to point out that while the political contests will certainly be in the news all over the region, Latin Americans themselves probably will be more concerned with the economic and social issues that continue to afflict them, not least among them the bloody U.S.-funded drug war that has ravaged Colombia, Mexico and other nations.

And while a shift to the left seems likely in Brazil and Mexico, a number of factors could sway voters in another direction—considering that these days the results of votes are anybody’s guess, as the 2016 U.S. elections and Brexit showed the West.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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