Pink tide

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Not to be confused with red tide or Crimson Tide.

Pink tide (Spanish: marea rosa, Portuguese: onda rosa) or Turn to the Left (Sp.: vuelta hacia la izquierda, Pt.: Guinada à Esquerda) are phrases used in contemporary 21st century political analysis in the media and elsewhere to describe the perception that leftist ideology in general, and left-wing politics in particular, are increasingly influential in Latin America.[1][2][3]

In 2005, the BBC reported that out of 350 million people in South America, three out of four of them lived in countries ruled by "left-leaning presidents" elected during the preceding six years. According to the BBC, "another common element of the 'pink tide' is a clean break with what was known at the outset of the 1990s as the 'Washington consensus', the mixture of open markets and privatisation pushed by the United States".[2]

The Latin American countries viewed as part of this ideological trend have been referred to as "Pink Tide nations".[4] The term Post-neoliberalism has been used as a term to refer to the Pink Tide.

Use of the term[edit]

While being a relatively new coinage, the term "pink tide" has become prominent in contemporary discussion of Latin American politics. Origins of the term may be linked to a statement by Larry Rohter, a New York Times reporter in Montevideo who characterized the election of Tabaré Vázquez as leader of Uruguay as "not so much a red tide…as a pink one."[3] The term seems to be a play on words based on "red tide" (a biological phenomenon rather than a political one) with "red" – a color long associated with communism – being replaced with the lighter tone of "pink" to indicate the more moderate communist and socialist ideas gaining strength.[5]

According to a 2006 press release from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a left-leaning Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization:

According to Diana Raby from Red Pepper Blog:

More recently one observer wrote that as "the so-called 'Pink Tide' sweeps through South America", 2009 will probably see the election of Mauricio Funes in El Salvador.[8] However, despite the presence of a number of Latin American governments which profess to embracing a leftist ideology, it is difficult to categorize Latin American states "according to dominant political tendencies, like a red-blue post-electoral map of the United States."[5] According to the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal non-profit think-tank based in Washington, D.C.:

While this political shift is difficult to quantify, its effects are widely noticed. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, 2006 meetings of the South American Summit of Nations and the Social Forum for the Integration of Peoples demonstrated that certain discussions that "used to take place on the margins of the dominant discourse of neoliberalism, (have) now moved to the center of public debate."[5]


The perception of the rising pink tide is heralded as welcome change by those sympathetic to the views it represents while those near the opposite end of the political spectrum identify it as a malignant influence. According to the latter:

According to a report from the Inter Press Service news agency:


As of 2014, conservative parties are still weak in Latin America, but left-wing leaders had begun to shift to centrism. The death of Hugo Chávez left the most radical wing without a clear leader, as Nicolás Maduro does not have the same international influence of his predecessor. National policies are divided between the styles of Chávez and Lula da Silva, as Lula focused on the poor people but also in private enterprises and global capital.[10]

Left-wing and Centre-left presidents elected in Latin America since 1990[edit]

Note: Center-left presidents are marked with *



See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Boston Globe: The many stripes of anti-Americanism
  2. ^ a b [2] BBC News: South America's leftward sweep
  3. ^ a b [3] Pittsburg Tribune-Herald: Latin America's 'pragmatic' pink tide
  4. ^ [4] SustainabiliTank: Guatemala
  5. ^ a b c d [5] Institute for Policy Studies: Latin America's Pink Tide?
  6. ^ a b [6] Council on Hemispheric Affairs: Latin America – The Path Away from U.S. Domination
  7. ^ [7] The Bolivarian Project: Latin America's Pink Tide
  8. ^ Yet Another Feather in the Cap of Hugo Chavez? El Salvador 2009, Nikolas Kozloff, CounterPunch, May 10–12, 2008
  9. ^ [8] Inter Press Service: Challenges 2006–2007: A Bad Year for Empire
  10. ^ Latin America's political right in decline as leftist governments move to middle
  11. ^ The Dominican Liberation Party in which both Dominican presidents belong to has a centrist position.
  12. ^ During his presidency Zelaya was a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras.