After the pink tide of progressive politics got here a brown tidal wave of response. The previous couple of years of governance in Latin America have reeked of corruption, repression, and environmental degradation. They are going to go down in historical past because the “Sewage Decade,” due to Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Ivan Duque of Colombia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, Jeanine Anez of Bolivia and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras.

Quite a few these leaders are nonetheless in workplace. And Chileans can also wade into the wastewater in the event that they elect right-wing populist Jose Antonio Kast, who obtained probably the most votes within the first spherical of presidential elections final month. However Chile however, we’d lastly be seeing some gentle on the finish of this specific sewage tunnel.


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This week, Xiomara Castro scored a decisive victory within the presidential election in Honduras, placing an finish to the disastrous 12-year reign of an anti-democratic, narcotrafficking regime allied to america. As an antidote to this misplaced decade, Castro provides an unabashedly socialist, feminist, anti-corruption agenda. She has additionally promised to create a authorities of nationwide unity.

Constructing nationwide unity shouldn’t be going to be simple in one of many poorest nations in Latin America the place a rich elite nonetheless controls all of the levers of energy. The coup that deposed left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya a dozen years in the past divided Honduran society alongside one more axis. Xiomara Castro is the spouse of Zelaya, so it’s fairly clear which aspect of that schism she’s on.

Earlier than she will be able to do anything, nevertheless, Castro has to interrupt the ability of the drug traffickers who’ve turned Honduras right into a extremely environment friendly narco-state.

Medication ‘R’ Us

Final March, Juan Antonio Hernandez was sentenced in US court docket to life imprisonment plus 30 years for smuggling 185 tons of cocaine into america. He was additionally fined $158 million. Hernandez is the brother of the departing Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, who did no matter he might, even hiring a Washington foyer agency for at the very least half one million {dollars}, to get his brother acquitted.

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This wasn’t simply fraternal solidarity. It was bare self-interest. In The New Yorker, John Lee Anderson describes the prosecution’s case, which was finally profitable. Juan Antonio Hernandez “used thousands and thousands of {dollars} from drug gross sales to finance his celebration’s elections; on behalf of his brother the President, he had accepted a million-dollar bribe from Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán, the top of the Sinaloa cartel. The lead prosecutor known as Hernández a ‘uniquely dangerous character, who, alongside along with his brother, is on the middle of years of state-sponsored drug trafficking.’ His prison habits, the prosecutor stated, had left Honduras ‘one of many principal transshipment factors for cocaine on this planet” and “probably the most violent locations on this planet.’”

The outgoing Honduran president has declared his personal innocence, although that was more and more troublesome to take care of within the face of proof that his initials may very well be discovered within the monetary documentation of the drug enterprise. As president, Hernandez had promised to cooperate with america in its warfare on medication. Maybe US officers ought to have clarified on which aspect the president was planning to battle — the aspect of the US authorities or the aspect of US drug distributors.

Hernandez shouldn’t be the one politician who’s been accused of such collusion. One other candidate within the presidential race, Yani Rosenthal, served three years in US jail after pleading responsible to cash laundering for the Cachiros drug cartel. Former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo additionally labored hand in hand with the Cachiros clan, finally forcing the Biden administration to difficulty a journey ban this summer season towards Lobo and his household. It was a very embarrassing second for President Joe Biden, who had been vice-president when Barack Obama proclaimed Lobo’s “robust dedication to democracy” when he prematurely welcomed Honduras again into the membership of democratic nations.

The Honduran authorities did battle a drug warfare, however solely to the extent that the police eradicated drug lords that competed with the state’s handpicked narcos. Lobo’s police chief, nicknamed El Tigre, has been accused of a number of extrajudicial killings and faces a life behind bars if Honduras will get round to extraditing him to america.

Given its location between Colombia and Mexico, Honduras turned a logical location for the trans-shipment of cocaine. At one level, an estimated 80% of the cocaine certain for the US handed by the nation. That visitors has diminished, however now Honduras is transferring up the value-added provide chain by processing extra of the uncooked coca into cocaine.

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If Castro, as incoming president, can begin ratcheting down the narcotics commerce — with out getting herself killed or overthrown in a coup — she will be able to begin to tackle the nation’s two different main woes: financial despair and the astounding outflow of migrants.

Roughly three out of 4 Hondurans stay at or beneath the poverty line. Solely Guatemala has a worse report in Latin America. The agricultural inhabitants is particularly laborious hit, the Honduran center class is minuscule and COVID-19 reversed the modest financial development the nation skilled in recent times.

Hondurans accounted for a disproportionate variety of the Central American migrants flowing into Mexico between 2018 and 2021. On prime of all those that have already departed, one in 5 Hondurans has expressed a need to depart the nation. Who can blame them? In the event that they aren’t escaping excessive poverty or the extraordinary violence of the gangs and the federal government, Hondurans wish to go away due to excessive climate exacerbated by local weather change.

In 2020, the double shock of Hurricanes Eta and Iota killed 98 folks and brought on almost $2 billion of injury. As one resident of a rural group advised The Guardian, “I’ve my suitcases packed, able to go. We will’t stay like this. There’s no future for us right here.”

Hope Elsewhere within the Area

Within the brown tide of response in Latin America, Jair Bolsonaro is the fatberg, a monstrous accumulation of private extra, political corruption and environmental hazard. Throughout his tenure as Brazilian president, Bolsonaro has presided over a tragic mishandling of COVID-19, the identical form of monetary misconduct he promised to eradicate the extraordinary destruction of the Amazon. Even because the Brazilian chief signed on to the deforestation pledge in Glasgow final month, he was delaying the discharge of a report exhibiting that the destruction of the Amazon elevated by 22% over the previous 12 months.

However the excellent news is that Bolsonaro’s recognition has dropped precipitously. In a September ballot, almost 60% of respondents stated they might not vote for him “underneath any circumstances.” And Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the previous president and leftist stalwart, at present has a 20-point lead within the polling forward of subsequent October’s election. In fact, a 12 months is a very long time, and once in a while Bolsonaro flirtatiously reveals his trump card, particularly a coup to remain in energy.

Final 12 months, Bolivia supplied the area with an instance of easy methods to flip again a coup when the celebration of exiled chief Evo Morales gained a landslide victory within the elections. Final spring, the interim president, Jeanine Anez and a number of other of her ministers had been arrested and charged with terrorism and main a coup.

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Ecuador shifted to the fitting within the elections final spring, as voters narrowly supported conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso. However the extra essential growth, at the very least for the long-term way forward for the nation, has been the success of the indigenous celebration Pachakutik, which gained management of half of all of the states on its technique to turning into the second strongest celebration in Congress. Pachakutik not solely forcefully rejects the discrimination that the indigenous of Ecuador have skilled, however it additionally embraces a wide range of progressive social reforms and has a sturdy environmental agenda that revolves round Sumak Kawsay or “dwelling nicely,” which intersects with the “buen vivir” motion within the area as a complete.

Peru dodged a bullet earlier this 12 months when voters narrowly rejected Keiko Fujimori, the right-wing daughter of disgraced chief Alberto Fujimori. The brand new president, Pedro Castillo, who comes from humble origins and rose by the ranks as a commerce unionist, has put ahead a conventional left platform of utilizing the state to elevate up marginalized communities. However Castillo is a social conservative — he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — and has put collectively a politically blended authorities, which can allow him to carry energy for longer than his predecessors. He’s, in any case, Peru’s fifth president in 5 years.

Not all is rosy within the area. By means of fraud and intimidation, Daniel Ortega has successfully made himself chief for all times in Nicaragua. Nicolas Maduro continues to rule the failing state of Venezuela. Proper-wingers are nonetheless in cost in Colombia, Guatemala and Paraguay.

However the victory of Xiomara Castro in Honduras, Pedro Castillo’s earlier win in Peru and the elevated energy of Pachakutik in Ecuador level to a special form of future for Latin America, one that’s much less corrupt, extra conscious of financial wants and environmental imperatives and extra attune to the realities of indigenous communities. These new leaders have loads of work to do to scrub out the Augean stables the place Latin America’s authoritarians and far-right populists have taken up residence and which have backed up with mountains of excreta. However step one, which the voters of Honduras have simply taken, is to cease overloading the waste administration system.

*[This article was originally published by FPIF.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.