Prioritising U.S. Imperialism in

Evaluating Latin America’s Pink Tide


Steve Ellner

Two conflicting leftist positions on Latin America’s wave of progressive governments known as the Pink Tide have become increasingly well-defined over the last two decades. One position is favorable, while the other highly critical, to the extent that Pink Tide presidents—including Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula)—are sometimes put in the same category as conservative and right-wing leaders.

At the heart of these differences is the issue of imperialism. The key question that emerges from the debate has paramount implications: Is the struggle against U.S. imperialism the left’s foremost priority worldwide, no matter what view is taken on the Ukraine war? If the answer is yes, then steadfast support for Pink Tide governments, which have been subjected to and resisted U.S. interventionism, is particularly compelling.

Or has globalisation set in motion other contradictions that needto be prioritised since the principal target must be global capital, and not Washington’s political machinations? Furthermore, the environment, Indigenous rights, gender equality, and participatory democracy—all banners of what some call the “anti-globalisation movement”—have to be foremost in the formulation of leftist strategies and goals in the twenty-first century.1 The Pink Tide’s performance on these fronts has been far from exemplary, thus explaining the line of reasoning of those on the left staunchly critical of those governments.

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