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Even as South America Tilts Right, a Leftist Legacy Stands Strong

April 04, 2017

Ecuador’s leftist candidate Lenín Moreno squeaked into office this weekend in what was a noteworthy win in a region tipping increasingly to the right.

But even amid the recent political shifts, one thing has become clear: whether a leader is left or right, the so-called “Pink Tide” of leftist leaders that defined the first decade and a half of this century has fundamentally changed the region.

Latin America remains one of the most unequal places in the world, but the gains in education, health care, and the upward mobility of the poor are improvements voters are not willing to let disappear. Conservatives today have to convince the electorate that despite whatever changes they promise to usher in, they won’t dismantle the social gains brought to shore by the Pink Tide….

Latin America has long been defined by its inequality. For decades it was governed in an “us vs. them manner, where ‘them’ was all of the population outside of the political elite,” says Eric Farnsworth, the vice president of the Washington-based Council of the Americas.

But as commodity prices shot up in the early 2000s and leftist governments rose to power and implemented broader social spending, social indicators improved dramatically. Between 2003 and 2012, the region halved the number of people in extreme poverty (living on less than $2.50 per day), according to the World Bank….

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