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A tale of two lefts

Andrés López Obrador's failure to win the Mexican election masks a broader trend: Latin America's recent turn to the left. But there are two distinct lefts in the region: one modern and reformist, with its roots in hardcore leftism; the other nationalist and authoritarian, born of the Latin populist tradition

By prospect   August 2006

Just over a decade ago, Latin America seemed poised to begin a virtuous cycle of economic progress and improved democratic governance, overseen by a growing number of centrist, technocratic governments. In Mexico, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, buttressed by the passage of the North American free trade agreement, was ready for his handpicked successor to win the next presidential election. In Brazil, former finance minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso was about to beat the radical labour leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency. Argentine president Carlos Menem had pegged the peso to the dollar and put his populist Peronist…

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