Lessons from Latin America’s Pink Tide: A Forum

Rafael Correa speaking to supporters, 2011 (Ministerio Coordinador de Producción, Ecuador / Flickr)

As Latin America’s “pink tide” appears to ebb, five scholars join a roundtable discussion about its lessons for democratic socialists in the region and abroad. Patrick Iber’s lead essay is followed by four responses—critiquing his argument and reacting to developments across the region since the essay appeared in print in early April—and Iber’s reply.

Patrick Iber, The Path to Democratic Socialism: Lessons from Latin America

“Significant change to our political economy will require significant change to our structure of government. It is hard to see how to get there without some kind of ‘populist’ moment, fraught with danger to other values we believe to be essential.”

Javier Buenrostro, Chavismo’s Crumbling Economic Foundations

“Targeted use of earnings from natural resources and other raw commodities can be an immediate and necessary salve to help diminish brutal levels of poverty and inequality, but it doesn’t amount to changing the economic model.”

Sujatha Fernandes, Democratic Socialism From the Ground Up

“Populism is extremely limited if it is not coupled with highly organized grassroots movements with the ability to shape politics from the ground up.”

Bryan McCann, Brazil’s Democracy Back in the Streets

“If there is any positive aspect to Brazil’s current crisis, it is the reemergence of non-partisan, civil-society mobilization in response to impeachment and its fallout.”

Thea Riofrancos, Populism and the People

“Iber’s analysis rests on two questionable assumptions: first, that ‘the people’ is constructed from the top down and through powerful ‘rhetoric’ alone, and second, that once forged, ‘the people’ exist as a monolithic force defending the regime. Historical study betrays both assumptions.”

Patrick Iber, Reply

“Democratic socialism cannot emerge exclusively, or even primarily, from the grassroots. . . . It implies the structuring of social resources in ways that require government action.”



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