In 2018, at least six Latin American countries will have elections: Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Paraguay.
Given the economic and political importance of these countries for the region, the PanAm Post will tell you who the main enemies of freedom are in each of the elections and what their chances are of winning.
Mexico: López Obrador is running for president again
In June, Mexicans will be able to elect a new president, as well as renew their senate and congress members. One of the candidates with the more support among Mexicans is Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the leader of the leftist party MORENA. López Obrador is ahead in almost all the presidential polls, and has 32-percent voter support.
AMLO has been a presidential candidate in Mexico twice before: once in 2006 and once in 2012. In both elections, he contested his defeat and insisted that Presidents Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón were illegitimate.
Despite his speeches defending democracy, AMLO has attacked Mexico’s democratic institutions. During the 2006 protests against the election of Calderón, López Obrador even said “to the devil with institutions.”
The radical left is supporting AMLO now, including those associated with Chavismo. Hugo Chávez condemned the election of Felipe Calderón and argued that Obrador was the rightful winner of the Mexican election.
In 2018, AMLO has won the candidacy of the most radical leftist party. The MORENA party split off from the Partido de la Revolución Democrática. In addition to MORENA, the Socialist Labor Party has also endorsed him for President.
The PT is a Mexican socialist and “anti-imperialist” political organization. Some members of the Mexican PT have acknowledged having political ties with the FARC. In 2018, PT leaders invited members of the Colombian guerrilla to a seminar in Mexico. They also invited Lucía Morett, a sympathizer of the FARC cause, to be their candidate in the Mexican legislative elections.
Though AMLO claims to be “very different” from dictators like Nicolás Maduro and Raúl Castro, the candidate does not condemn them or consider them dictators. He also doesn’t hide his admiration for Che Guevara. AMLO has a lot to explain to Mexicans.
More of the same in Brazil?
Brazil will have a general election in 2018. Despite the economic, political and social crisis caused by years of leftist governments, former President “Lula” da Silva has strong support. In December 2017, the leftist leader reached a 45-percent voter intention rate in polls.
According to multiple polls, Lula would not only get more votes in the first round than any other candidate in Brazil, he would also defeat any candidate in the second round.
Despite Lula’s popularity, it’s possible that the former President will not become a presidential candidate due to legal problems. Lula has already been convicted for accepting bribes, and is waiting for the Federal Regional Court of Porto Alegre to issue a final decision on the case. If Lula is convicted, he will be ineligible for candidacy, and the Brazilian election will become complicated.
The most valued candidates would be the nationalist Jair Bolsonaro and the center-leftists Marina Silva and Ciro Gomes. The Brazilian people will have to choose between a market economy, nationalism and socialism.
The FARC, Piedad Córdoba and Gustavo Petro
Colombians will go to the polls in 2018 to renew the Senate, the House of Representatives and to elect a new President.
Piedad Córdoba launched her independent candidacy with support from the Poder Ciudadano movement. On more than one occasion, she has defended the Venezuelan dictatorship and even confirmed that she would gladly wait in lines in Venezuela in defense of socialism.
Rodrigo Londoño, alias Timoleón Jiménez, or Timochenko, the leader of the FARC, is also a candidate under the group’s newly formed political party. Timochenko has been accused of many crimes including crimes against humanity.
— FARC (@FARC_EPueblo) November 1, 2017
Though neither Timochenko nor Piedad Córdoba stand out in the presidential polls, there is a third, radically leftist candidate who leads in the polls: Gustavo Petro, the former M-19 guerrilla and former mayor of Bogotá. Petro leads several of the country’s presidential polls. On several occasions, he supported the deceased leader of 21st century socialism, Hugo Chávez.
Colombians have an opportunity to open their economy and follow the successful examples of Chile, Peru — or to go down the path that Venezuela took.
Paraguay: could Fernando Lugo’s party return to power?
The Paraguayan presidential elections will take place in April 2018. So far, two blocks have submitted candidates.
The conservative Colorado Party will nominate Mario Abdo Benítez, the son of the private secretary of the former dictator Alfredo Stroessner. So far, Benítez’s most visible rival is Efraín Alegre of the Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico. Though the party is not leftist, Alegre will run for president with the support of leftist Leo Rubin. Rubin is a member of the Guasú Front, the political party of former President Fernando Lugo.
Alegre and Rubin are reviving the political alliance that led Lugo to the presidency despite the fact that their parties distanced themselves from one another after the Authentic Radical Liberal Party led to Lugo’s dismissal.
Costa Rica: a weak radical left
Costa Rica is a country with a strong democratic tradition. In this sense, neither the extreme left nor the extreme right usually have much of a chance to come to power. On this occasion, the two candidates with the best options to be elected President of the country are the center-leftist Antonio Álvarez and the center-right Juan Diego Castro.
According to several of the polls, the center-leftist governing party candidate Carlos Alvarado has no chance of becoming the next president.
The far-left parties, such as the Frente Amplio and the Workers Party, have their own candidates. However, neither of them seems to have enough electoral support to win elections in Costa Rica.
Venezuela: the continuity of the regime is all but certain
Dictator Nicolás Maduro promised that elections will be held in 2018. However, as usual, the transparency of the elections is highly questionable, as the dictator controls the electoral power of the country. Maduro said “the same voting mechanisms” used in previous elections will be used this time around.
The regime is also expected to punish those candidates who could put the dictatorship at risk. In December 2017, Maduro said that opposition parties that have not participated in municipal elections will be banned from running in the presidential elections.
It seems that the Venezuelan socialist regime will remain in power and deepen the humanitarian crisis that the country is experiencing.