The Women of Latin America’s Left

Dariela Aquique

Michelle Bachelet

HAVANA TIMES — For some time now, after many years of military dictatorships and a long period of right-wing governments, left-leaning parties have been gaining ground in the Latin American continent.

They have come into the scene with proposals to reduce social inequality to a maximum and to bring about the political, economic and social integration of the region and the Caribbean. What is curious about this process is that the face and body of this Left appears to be more graceful, that female politicians are making their mark in Latin America’s political stage.

Championing progressive causes, more and more women who seek to steer the course of these governments are gaining in popularity, and this is taking place in a region where, for centuries, women have been excluded from political life and where, expectedly, they have been the main victims of prejudice and marginalization.

From March 11, 2006 to March 11, 2010, when Mrs. Bachelet, a Chilean medical doctor and politician, was Chile’s president, the South American nation began to feel winds of change.

Regrettably, these changes were cut short when the Right came to power, in form of Chile’s current president Sebastian Piñera.

A year later, Cristina Fernandez, a politician and lawyer, took office in Argentina, a position she’s held since December 10, 2007. Today in her second term, she maintains high popularity and has impelled important reforms in the South American country.

On January 1, 2011, the South American giant, Brazil, elected Dilma Rousseff, a Brazilian economist and politician, president of the country. Rousseff is a continuator of the policies advanced by her predecessor, Ignacio Lula Da Silva.

Currently, two female presidential candidates compete at the urns to secure Chile’s leadership and decide its immediate future. Bachelet, the most popular candidate according to the polls, is running for president again, against right-wing candidate Evelyn Mathei.

Bachelet defeated Mathei by a broad margin at the first, recently-concluded electoral round. They are to hold the second round this coming 15th of December. The majority believes Bachelet will come out victorious.

Honduras holds elections next week, and many are hoping that Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the presidential candidate of the Libertad y Refundación (“Freedom and New Foundation”) Party, will win these.

As though this trend weren’t clear enough, after 17 years of living in exile because of assassination attempts, threats and the murder of nearly everyone in her party, Aida Avella has returned to Colombia, demanding the government’s guarantees to exercise her constitutional rights. Avella has put herself forth as the presidential candidate of Colombia’s Union Patriotica (“Patriotic Union”) Party for the 2014 elections.

Women are not only running for president. Many are ministers with very important roles in governments, occupying positions that women had never held before.

Some examples include the Venezuelan Minister of Defense, Chief Admiral Teresa Melendez, and the Minister for Defense of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, who was the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration in 2007.

Otro ejemplo es el de Gabriela Rivadeneira, Presidenta de la Asamblea Nacional de Ecuador. Como es evidente, la izquierda se impone en Latinoamérica, pero esta vez con rostro de mujer.

Another case in point is Gabriela Rivandeneira, president of the Ecuadorian National Assembly (Parliament). As is more than evident, the Left is gaining ground in Latin America and, this time, it has a female face.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

2 thoughts on “The Women of Latin America’s Left

  • It is also ironic that several of these countries she mentions are all moving rapidly away from democracy toward Leftist dictatorships. Venezuela is the furthest down that road, followed by Ecuador and Brazil.

    It’s positive news that the Honduran people had the good sense to reject the return of Zayela. The bad news is the failed Leftist candidate has refused to concede defeat, setting the stage for conflict.

    In Argentina, Christine Fernandez de Kirchner has so seriously mismanaged the economy the country is turning against her. Fortunately, she is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, so the Argentine people may be spared from further self-inflicted misrule.

    The Colombian UP, founded by the Leftist narco-terrorists, FARC has little support in Colombia. That Aida Avella is running under their banner is not a note in her favour. The Colombian people will reject the party at the polls.

  • It is ironic that a Cuban woman would write this post, heralding the successes that women in Latin American politics have experienced recently without even a mention of what has (or has not) taken place in Cuba. Talk about the elephant in the room….

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