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Latin America 2008: Political Outlook

An in-depth report on Latin America's political outlook in 2008.


After growing last year, anti-business populism appears to be waning in Latin America, some experts say. “Aside from Paraguay, I don’t see any likelihood of a spreading populism in the region, particularly of an economic variety,” says Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.

Riordan Roett, director of the Latin American Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies
, agrees.With the defeat of [Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta] Humala and Hugo Chavez, populism has finally reached its high point for now,” he says.

The December 2 defeat of Chavez’ proposed constitutional reform could lead to a further weakening of populists in Venezuela and allied countries like Bolivia and Ecuador, argues James Roberts, a research fellow at the Center for International Trade and Economics at the Heritage Foundation. “In the wake of Chavez's humiliating defeat on December 2, 2007 when Venezuelan voters refused to hand him complete dictatorial powers for life I am somewhat encouraged about the political outlook for Latin America in 2008,” he says.  “I hope that the ripple effects from Chavez's loss will impact the Chavez disciples who lead Bolivia (Evo Morales) and Ecuador (Rafael Correa).  Both Morales and Correa have mimicked Chavez's tactics, with his financial help and tactical support.  I hope the defeat of Chavez will inspire proponents of market-based democracy in those two countries to re-double their efforts.”


Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami, agrees. “The defeat of the Venezuelan referendum will...


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