Before the curtain fell on Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s presidency, she carried out her final public act in Argentina’s top office, with Bolivian President Evo Morales by her side. The outgoing leader unveiled a bust of her late husband and former president Néstor Kirchner, whom she called one of the ‘three musketeers’ of socialism, in a spectacle projected on giant screens outside her official residence, the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires.
Morales, presumably the last ‘musketeer’ in office after the late Kirchner and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, may also be headed for the exit after losing a referendum to stand for a fourth term in office in late February. While some give Morales credit for boosting growth in Bolivia’s economy and reducing poverty since he took office a decade ago, his departure points to the pink tide that is gradually ebbing throughout Latin America.
Cuba and its thawing relationship with the US is a striking example given the country’s persistent isolation from the growth that other parts of the region have enjoyed in the last half century. The controversial visit by President Barack Obama planned for March would mark the first time a US president has visited the island in 88 years, since Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace arrived in Havana by battleship in 1928.
To the south, Colombia is bearing down on a peace accord with leftist rebels that could end five decades of bloody domestic strife. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is still aiming to sign a peace accord with the groups, who have agreed to participate in special courts and a peace tribunal to deal with alleged crimes by March 23. In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff and her center-left Workers Party are under siege due to a pervasive corruption scandal and an economy in deep recession. In a sign of the strengthening rule of law, prosecutors were seeking to arrest former President Luiz Ignácio Lula Da Silva on charges related to the Lava Jato investigation in early March.
Kirchner’s successor, Mauricio Macri stands out in the region for making perhaps the boldest shifts. Lifting capital controls, export taxes and heavy energy subsidies, normalizing exchange rates and achieving a landmark resolution with holdout creditors puts Macri in stark contrast with his predecessor. Significant challenges remain, however, as Macri seeks to come to terms with powerful unions and steer the holdout creditor settlement through an opposition-dominated congress, all against an unsettling specter — none of the last three Argentine presidents before the Kirchner era completed their terms.
While the pink tide may be receding, it’s early days for rose-colored glasses at the Casa Rosada. LF