We Are All South Americans: The Receding of the Pink Tide

While here in the United States orange is the new black, blue is the new pink in South America. While Europe has been in the public eye over the current refugee crisis and the Middle East for the rise of the Islamic State, a wave has been receding in South America under much of the world’s nose- the Pink Tide foams no more.

This aptly named Pink Tide crashed against South American shores as Hugo Chávez rose to the presidency of Venezuela in 1999. Shortly after, many of the juntas of the jungles fell to populist leftist movements, both democratically and through guerrilla tactics. The revered American tenets of a free market economy and eventually freedom were abandoned for a post-neoliberalism ideology. Along with a wave of anti-american sentiment, political dynasties, such as the Kirchnerismo in Argentina, were founded. Countries like Brazil began publicizing many of their industries and countries like Columbia created a single party system. While not the communist red, the pink tide diluted many communist concepts throughout South America.

Today, after countless political scandals, human rights abuses, and faltering economies too reliant on oil prices, South Americans are again seeing the blue skies of liberation and freedom. A journalist can sleep in the knowledge he will not disappear tomorrow, an economy stifled by governmental regulations and oligarchy will overcome stagnation and inflation, and most of all the hundreds of millions South American’s can begin to possess political, personal, and economic freedom. Eurocentrism aside, the swing to the center right and the rise of political opposition in many of the South American countries this year not only strengthens democracy and allows for economic diversification away from a dependence on oil but most importantly improves the basic quality of life for all those living in South America. Uruguay continues to provide a perfect blue print for the governments rising above the Pink Tide. Not only have they experienced amazing economic growth, they have lowered poverty levels and expanded freedom- something many of the Pink governments failed to accomplish after their early success.

While this series of events is intriguing as well as globally significant, this trend goes beyond the perspective of global politics or the expansion of freedom. I myself have been under a ‘pink tide’ for my last 18 years- just as many of the teenagers reading this are currently under such a Pink tide- and just like the people of South America must soon adjust to a new reality and face new challenges. Although entirely less consequential and bereft of human rights abuses, my childhood mirrors many of the characteristics of the Pink Tide: much like the people of South America, my healthcare, food, and income have been provided for me. My freedom to make choices has been limited by my parents instead of a government and my opposition to decisions has come up against a one-party system where, in many cases, the freedom of speech I treasure does not hold sway . Going away to college, I face now the responsibility of paying my own bills, providing my own healthcare, and prosperity.  The people of South America now face the new, unknown challenge of doing the same. My life rests entirely under my control similar to the destiny of the countries of South America rests in the hands of the people through their now functioning democracies. South Americans have moved out of their parents house and now gaze at the blue expanse of the sky. As I do the same, I begin to grasp the immense challenges and opportunities my new found freedom provides me. I hope the shift in the political climate of South America allows for its people to prosper under their blue sky by controlling their own economies, destinies, and governments just as I hope to be able to do the same in my life ahead.


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