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Published on Dec 31, 2013 in Featured Articles, Latin America, News

The Pink Tide in Latin America

Photo from en.wikipedia.org

Photo from en.wikipedia.org

When I first heard the term “pink tide,” I wasn’t sure if we were talking about some form of red tide, caused by high concentrations of a microscopic marine algae, or some variation thereof. It was a term that was new to me. As it turns out, pink tide is a phrase that has become mainstream and has gained wide acceptance in the past few years.

The term pink tide was first used by the media in describing leftist ideology and left-wing politics. The left wing is usually associated with the radical, reformist, or socialist section of a political party. In contrast, the right wing is considered the conservative or reactionary section.

The term “pink tide” is generally associated with Latin American politics. This is most likely due to a statement made by New York Times reporter Larry Rohter who characterized the election of Uruguay’s Tabare Vazquez as “not so much a red tide … as a pink one.” With pink indicating that Vazquez was replacing the bright red color associated with communism with a more moderate communist and socialist tone, but still with left leaning tendencies. The pink tide has found strong roots in Latin America, causing a sharp rise in socialism. In a color spectrum consisting of three colors, the white end of the spectrum represents capitalism, the opposite, or red end of the spectrum, represents extreme communism, and the pink section represents moderate socialism.

According to the North American Congress on Latin America, the pink tide is not homogenous among all Latin American countries, but is driven by the agenda of their various governments. The reason for this is that the pink tide came about as an individualistic response by each nation as to what would best remediate and stabilize their sagging local economies. As a result, a number of Latin American governments halted privatizations, nationalized industries, restored public health and education programs, introduced social welfare programs, and expanded social spending. These leftist actions subsequently became highly popular with the people, quieted domestic unrest, and increased popular support for the government.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the pink tide will be sustainable in the long term. But for now, governments such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia have embraced the pink tide and have introduced structural transformations that have addressed social issues within their countries. So, the next time you hear the term pink tide, think of a leftist turn to socialism in some Latin American countries.

Alan Refkin

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