The annulment of all sentences against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a sign of what is happening in Latin America. The ultra-conservative right-wingers in power in recent years have fallen one after another.
After heir victories, boosted by “law-fare” against opposition leaders, they resumed the neoliberal agendas of yesteryear with the same logic, reducing the role of the state, disregarding the most vulnerable in a region that continues to be one of the most unequal in the world.
At the same time, in just a few years, they also distanced themselves from major regional integration projects such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), erasing with the stroke of a pen the efforts that had been made.
Today, without the Puebla Group’s voice and strength to make visible the serious misdemeanours of several governments against democratic processes and opposition actors, the situation would perhaps be darker.
There is much to rebuild and go through, but the political landscape is now different and more optimistic in countries such as Argentina and Bolivia.
Soon it will be in Ecuador, and Chile is expected to teach a lesson by ending the government of Sebastián Piñera, marred by serious human rights violations.
The return of progressive governments thus opens up the possibility of returning to the realms of a tangible regional project, and moving away from that integrationist conception of mere neoliberalism of the right.
The Mexico / Argentina axis established after Alberto Fernández’s visit to his partner Andrés Manuel López Obrador should be celebrated.
The union of progressive voices is undoubtedly good news to give the necessary impetus to Latin American regional integration again.
Counsellors and diplomats from both countries have made an effort in the last year to provide a regional solution to the pandemic.
In addition, they have been strengthening the body of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which is essential to move and organise cooperation, especially in the context of the economic crisis in the region. Thanks to the arrival of progressive governments, events occur, strategies are developed, and it is close to what Ernesto Samper, former president of Colombia and former secretary general of UNASUR, defined as a ‘convergence matrix’ for the identification of common initiatives.
Regional integration must be useful to the people and be consolidated together with the vast majority of stakeholders that make up our societies.
The dimensions of integration are varied and complementary, but it will be essential to multiply the mechanisms for participation with and for civil society.
Without active participation of citizens, progressives will continue to find it difficult to give sustainability to integration projects with an emancipatory perspective for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Latin America has the full capacity to hold weight in the international community, to achieve sustainable integration and install public policies that allow reducing levels of poverty and inequality. But without a clear regional political agenda and without the incorporation of civil society, we are condemned to suffer setbacks every time the right comes to govern, in favour of an elite, not to mention alignment with the United States.
The people of the region deserve more, and better. Today, the future of Latin American and Caribbean integration depends on progressivism. (PL)