The shift to the left that opened up new paths for the Andean region in the 2000s raised the hopes of left-wing movements across the globe. The constitutions adopted in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia raised new possibilities for participation and democracy and contained utopian elements that, for example, accorded rights to nature and enshrined ideas drawn from indigenous cosmovisions, such as the concept of “Buen Vivir” (good life). Progressive governments initially made moves to reduce poverty and social inequality, but since commodity prices collapsed in 2014, governments have struggled to continue funding their welfare programmes. Venezuela, for instance, is mired in crisis. Some governments have begun opposing the very movements that helped make the new constitutions possible. Moreover, conservative and right-wing forces have been rebuilding their influence in the region.
In Colombia, the right-wing government signed a peace agreement with the continent’s oldest guerrilla group, the FARC, in late 2016. Earlier that year, however, the government had lost a referendum on the agreement, due mainly to opposition from the far-right movement led by former president Uribe and conservative circles headed by large land owners and churches. The referendum defeat also symbolised the far right’s growing influence across society, which has gone hand in hand with an increase in repression and in the number of threats to and murders of human rights activists, unionists, farmers and indigenous people, primarily by paramilitary forces. This development has made political engagement in Colombia even more dangerous.
In the region, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung works with organisations that defend social and democratic rights, and it supports actors pushing for a sustainable and just transformation of society aimed at overcoming the dominant capitalist model of development. In addition, it promotes dialogue across a plural Left in order to think beyond short-term responses to crisis-laden developments and provide comprehensive analyses and more forward-looking perspectives.