Although the political, social and economic situation in the Southern Cone countries was shaped by progressive government programmes for many years, recently Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have moved in different directions.
The social democratic Frente Amplio has been in power in Uruguay since 2005, while Argentina elected a neoliberal government in 2015 after twelve years of left-wing Peronism. Chile also witnessed a swing to the right with the victory of the right-wing conservative coalition Chile Vamos in late 2017, but the strong showing achieved by the left-wing alliance Frente Amplio may help to create a new political dynamic in the country.
Despite this heterogeneity, the three nations continue to face very similar social, economic and environmental challenges. The rise in violence against women and LGBTIQ* people as well as attacks on hard-won rights to equality reflect the growing influence of conservative and reactionary forces within the region’s societies.
In economic terms, the countries remain highly dependent on the export of natural resources and unprocessed agricultural product. Nevertheless, the social and environmental toll of mining, fossil fuel extraction and industrial agriculture has become impossible to ignore, as all three sectors pollute soil and water, increase erosion and threaten the food sovereignty of large parts of the rural population, which is a major factor behind rural-urban migration. At the same time, the end of the resource boom exposed the inherent vulnerabilities of the extraction-driven model of development, as its dependency on global commodity prices has plunged the region into a severe economic crisis.
Governments responded with cuts to social spending and measures to increase labour market flexibility. The Argentinian population in particular is struggling to cope with austerity, growing precarity and rising unemployment. Chile is unwilling to change its stance on low environmental standards, precarious working conditions and the criminalisation and even repression of social resistance – most dramatically demonstrated by the Mapuche conflict – in order to remain investor-friendly.
Yet recent years have seen resistance to the dominant political, social and economic model take on more concrete forms. Movements have forged broad alliances, even outside formally institutionalised structures, to oppose the reactionary and neoliberal rollback.
The Buenos Aires Regional Office
Director: Elisangela Soldatelli
(Overseen by the São Paulo Office and its director, Gerhard Dilger)
Fundación Rosa Luxemburgo
Oficina de Buenos Aires
Santos Dumont 3721
CP 1427 Buenos Aires
+54 11 4551 7039
Contact persons at the RLS headquarters in Berlin:
Advisor: Ferdinand Muggenthaler
Project manager: Birte Keller (temporarily replacing Verona Wunderlich)