Pink tide

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Not to be confused with red tide or Crimson Tide.

The term "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, that were increasingly becoming influential in Latin America.[1][2][3]

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.


According to the BBC, a "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] According to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a pink tide president herself, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela (inaugurated 1999), Lula da Silva of Brazil (inaugurated 2003) and Evo Morales of Bolivia (inaugurated 2006) were "the three musketeers" of the left in South America.[5] By 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.[2]

Use of the term[edit]

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.[6]

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."[6] 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."[6]


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


To a certain extent, I think the left has exhausted itself in many parts of Latin America ... The citizenry has begun to see the excesses we saw in Argentina, the stagnation we are seeing in Brazil, or, in the case of Venezuela, the absolute failure of an incumbent party.

David Shirk, University of San Diego [5]

The death of Hugo Chávez in 2013 left the most radical wing without a clear leader, as Nicolás Maduro does not have the same international influence of his predecessor. National policies among the left 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.[8]

In 2014 and into 2015, multiple protests occurred against leftist governments. In Venezuela, the 2014–15 Venezuelan protests occurred due to socioeconomic problems and corruption. The 2014–15 Nicaraguan protests occurred do to actions performed by President Ortega and the construction of the Nicaragua Canal. In Brazil, millions of Brazilians protested in the 2015 protests in Brazil over corruption surrounding President Rousseff and economic difficulties, demanding her impeachment. The 2015 Ecuadorian protests occurred when Ecuadorians began to disapprove of actions made by President Correa.

In 2015, the shift away from the left became more pronounced in Latin America, with Vice News stating that 2015 was "The Year the 'Pink Tide' Turned".[5] Economic hardships occurred in countries such as Brazil and Venezuela as oil and commodity prices declined.[9] The United States–Cuban Thaw occurred with Cuba reproaching the United States when Cuba's main international partner, Venezuela, began experiencing economic hardships.[10][11]

According to President of Inter-American Dialogue, Michael Shifter regarding the economic situation:

Leftist leaders saw a sharp decline of support with Brazil's Dilma Rousseff approval dropping to 9% as of July 2015,[12] Peru's Ollanta Humala at 14% as of October 2015,[13] Chile's Michelle Bachelet near 24% as of September 2015[14] and Nicolás Maduro at 24.3% in July 2015.[15] Elections also signified the decline of the Pink tide. The election of the center-right Mauricio Macri in November 2015 as President of Argentina marked the populist movement of Kirchnerismo's end in Argentina.[5] In Venezuela, the opposition electoral coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable won a 2/3 supermajority of the Venezuelan National Assembly the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election a month after the election of Macri in December 2015.[5]

Presidents elected[edit]

Below are Left-wing and Centre-left presidents elected in Latin America since 1990 Note: Centre-left presidents are marked with *


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Boston Globe: The many stripes of anti-Americanism
  2. ^ a b c [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 e Noel, Andrea (29 December 2015). "The Year the 'Pink Tide' Turned: Latin America in 2015 | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d [5] Institute for Policy Studies: Latin America's Pink Tide?
  7. ^ [6] Inter Press Service: Challenges 2006–2007: A Bad Year for Empire
  8. ^ Latin America's political right in decline as leftist governments move to middle
  9. ^ a b Partlow, Joshua; Caselli, Irene (23 November 2015). "Does Argentina’s pro-business vote mean the Latin American left is dead?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  10. ^ "Why the United States and Cuba are cosying up". The Economist. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Usborne, David (4 December 2015). "Venezuela’s ruling socialists face defeat at polls". The Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Avaliação positiva do governo Dilma cai para 9%". Carta Capital. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Diario La República. "Aprobación de Ollanta Humala en octubre de 2015". 
  14. ^ Rosario Álvarez, Adimark: Bachelet obtiene 24% de aprobación registrando la peor cifra en la historia de la encuesta Politica, 02 de septiembre del 2015
  15. ^ Ulmer, Alexandra (13 August 2015). "Popularity of Venezuela's Maduro inches down to 24.3 percent". Reuters. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  16. ^ The Dominican Liberation Party in which both Dominican presidents belong to has a centrist position.
  17. ^ During his presidency Zelaya was a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras.