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 anti-Americanism, leftist ideology and left-wing politics in particular, were increasingly becoming influential in Latin America under more authoritarian governments primarily between 1998 and 2009.
Following the end of the Cold War, the United States promoted economic policies dubbed the "Washington consensus", urging developing countries to adopt free market economies and to be more democratic. 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". With the difficulties facing emerging markets across the world at the time, Latin Americans turned away from the liberal economics and used the promoted democracy to elect leftist leaders, with nearly half of a dozen elected governments turning to authoritarianism. With China becoming a more industrialized nation at the same time and requiring resources for its growing economy, it took advantage of the strained relations with the United States and partnered with the leftist governments.
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. 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.
Use of the term
The term "pink tide" had become prominent in contemporary discussion of Latin American politics in the early 21st century. 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." 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 that gained strength.
Despite the presence of a number of Latin American governments which professed 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." According to the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal non-profit think-tank based in Washington, D.C.:
|“||…a deeper analysis of elections in Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico indicates that the "pink tide" interpretation—that a diluted trend leftward is sweeping the continent—may be insufficient to understand the complexity of what's really taking place in each country and the region as a whole.||”|
While this political shift was difficult to quantify, its effects were 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, now moved to the center of public debate."
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|“||…elections results in Latin America appear to have confirmed a left-wing populist and anti-U.S. trend – the so-called “pink tide” – which, along with the recent disclosures regarding ties between right-wing paramilitaries and the government of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, poses serious threats to Washington's multi-billion-dollar anti-drug effort in the Andes.||”|
Hugo Chávez, who had "dreams of continental domination", was seen as a threat to his own people according to Michael Reid in Foreign Affairs, with his influence reaching a peak in 2007. The interest in Chávez waned after his dependence of oil revenue led Venezuela into an economic crisis and as he grew increasingly authoritarian. The death of Hugo Chávez in 2013 left the most radical wing without a clear leader, as Nicolás Maduro did 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. In 2015, the shift away from the left became more pronounced in Latin America. With The Economist saying the Pink Tide had ebbed and Vice News stating that 2015 was "The Year the 'Pink Tide' Turned".
Corruption and protests
Leftist governments like their right-leaning preceding governments became ensnarled in corruption as well. From 2014 into 2016, multiple protests occurred against leftist governments. In Venezuela, the 2014–16 Venezuelan protests occurred due to socioeconomic problems and corruption. The 2014–15 Nicaraguan protests occurred due to actions performed by President Ortega and the construction of the Nicaragua Canal. Millions of Brazilians participated in the 2015–16 protests over corruption surrounding President Rousseff and Lula da Silva, while demanding Rousseff's impeachment. The 2015 Ecuadorian protests occurred when Ecuadorians began to disapprove of actions made by President Correa.
Economic hardships occurred in countries such as Brazil and Venezuela as oil and commodity prices declined. With leftist governments spending largely on their populist social policies, they failed to save money for a potential drop in commodity prices and saw their economies falter as a result.
|“||You’re seeing this wave or tide or whatever you want to call it has run its course. They don’t have the economic sustenance to continue ... This kind of fiery leftist rhetoric was a function of the economic situation, and that has changed dramatically for many of these countries".||”|
Public support and elections
Leftist leaders saw a sharp decline of support with Brazil's Dilma Rousseff approval dropping to 9% as of July 2015, Peru's Ollanta Humala at 14% as of October 2015, Chile's Michelle Bachelet near 24% as of September 2015 and Nicolás Maduro at 24.3% in July 2015.
Elections also signified the decline of the Pink Tide. Due to lack of public support, Ecuador's Rafael Correa decided not to pursue reelection. The election of the center-right Mauricio Macri in November 2015 as President of Argentina brought a right-wing government to power, although the populist movements of Peronism and Kirchnerismo (tied to its leader Fernández de Kirchner's popularity) remain strong generally. 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. In a referendum held on 21 February 2016 voters rejected, by a narrow margin, a constitutional amendment to allow Bolivian President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term as president. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won the 2016 Peruvian elections, and becomes yet another country that departs from a centre-left government.
Below are Left-wing and Centre-left presidents elected in Latin America since 1990 Note: Centre-left presidents are marked with *
- Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega (1979–1990, 2007–present)
- Chile: Patricio Aylwin* (1990–1994), Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle* (1994-2000), Ricardo Lagos* (2000–2006), Michelle Bachelet* (2006–2010, 2014–present)
- Dominican Republic: Leonel Fernández* (1996–2000, 2004–2012), Danilo Medina* (2012–present) 
- Venezuela: Hugo Chávez (1999–2013), Nicolás Maduro (2013–present)
- Argentina: Néstor Kirchner* (2003–2007), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner* (2007–2015)
- Brazil: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva* (2003–2011), Dilma Rousseff* (2011–present)
- Uruguay: Tabaré Vázquez* (2005–2010, 2015–present), José Mujica* (2010–2015)
- Bolivia: Evo Morales (2006–present)
- Honduras: Manuel Zelaya* (2006–2009)
- Ecuador: Rafael Correa (2007–present)
- Guatemala: Álvaro Colom* (2008–2012)
- Paraguay: Fernando Lugo (2008–2012)
- El Salvador: Mauricio Funes* (2009–2014), Salvador Sánchez Cerén* (2014–present)
- Peru: Ollanta Humala* (2011–2016)
- Costa Rica: Luis Guillermo Solís* (2014–present)
- Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas
- Foro de São Paulo
- History of Latin America
- Latin American drug legalization
- Latin American integration
- Socialism of the 21st century
- "Latin America after 9/11: Geopolitics and the Pink Tide", John Beverley, Berfrois, 6 January 2012
- Karin Fischer & Dieter Plehwe: The "Pink Tide" and Neoliberal Civil Society Formation, State of Nature, 2013.
- da Cruz, Jose de Arimateia (2015). "STRATEGIC INSIGHTS: FROM IDEOLOGY TO GEOPOLITICS: RUSSIAN INTERESTS IN LATIN AMERICA". Current Politics and Economics of Russia, Eastern and Central Europe. Nova Science Publishers. 30 (1/2): 175–185.
-  Boston Globe: The many stripes of anti-Americanism
-  BBC News: South America's leftward sweep
-  Pittsburg Tribune-Herald: Latin America's 'pragmatic' pink tide
- "Once Saudi Venezuela, now a 'pink tide' casualty". The Chicago Tribune. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- Reid, Michael (Sep–Oct 2015). "Obama and Latin America: A Promising Day in the Neighborhood". Foreign Affairs. 94 (5): 45–53.
-  SustainabiliTank: Guatemala
- Noel, Andrea (29 December 2015). "The Year the 'Pink Tide' Turned: Latin America in 2015 | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2016. Institute for Policy Studies: Latin America's Pink Tide?
-  Inter Press Service: Challenges 2006–2007: A Bad Year for Empire
- Latin America's political right in decline as leftist governments move to middle
- "The ebbing of the pink tide". The Economist.
- G. Castañeda, Jorge (22 March 2016). "The Death of the Latin American Left". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- 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.
- "Why the United States and Cuba are cosying up". The Economist. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- Usborne, David (4 December 2015). "Venezuela's ruling socialists face defeat at polls". The Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- "Avaliação positiva do governo Dilma cai para 9%". Carta Capital. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- Diario La República. "Aprobación de Ollanta Humala en octubre de 2015".
- Rosario Álvarez, Adimark: Bachelet obtiene 24% de aprobación registrando la peor cifra en la historia de la encuesta Politica, 02 de septiembre del 2015
- Ulmer, Alexandra (13 August 2015). "Popularity of Venezuela's Maduro inches down to 24.3 percent". Reuters. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Argentina's Ex-President Wants Everyone to Know She's Not Scared of Corruption Probes - VICE News, April 14, 2016
- "Bolivian voters reject fourth term for Morales - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Oliver Stuenkel (June 8, 2016). "Peru: Kuczynski victory is part of a broader political shift in the region". Post Western World. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- The Dominican Liberation Party in which both Dominican presidents belong to has a centrist position.
- During his presidency Zelaya was a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras.