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1,1 Regional geopolitics and the rise of socialism in Latin America
In recent years, socialist politics have re-emerged as a force in Latin America. The geopolitics of the region have been dramatically changing with the
declining influence of the United States in what was considered its traditional backyard (Economist, 2011). This phase began in 1998, when Hugo
Chavez, was elected president of Venezuela. Chavez has been capitalising on the political wave of anger at failed neoliberal economic policies, and
the ideological space that the circumstances have produced, to set in motion the creation of a novel realignment of power relationships in the region.
The Venezuelan President was followed by Ricardo Lagos in Chile (2000), Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva in Brazil (2002), Nestor Kirchner in Argentina (2003),
Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay (2004) and Evo Morales in Bolivia (2005) – the first indigenous president in that country’s history. In 2006, ex–revolutionary
leader Daniel Ortega returned to power in Nicaragua, while independent left-wing economist Rafael Correa won the Ecuadorian presidency. By decade’s
end, leftist candidates had also won in Paraguay (Fernando Lugo) and El Salvador (Mauricio Funes of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front).
Leftist presidents or parties were subsequently re-elected in Venezuela (2000, 2006, 2011), Chile (2006, 2011), Brazil (2006, 2010), Argentina (2007),
Ecuador (2009), Bolivia (2009), Uruguay (2009) and Peru (2011) (Levitsky and Roberts, 2011). This unprecedented trend has been accompanied
by new forms of policy experimentation; it has been  argued that ‘the left turn’ is changing not only who governs in Latin America but also how they govern
(Levitsky and Roberts, 2011: 14). Contemporary left-wing governments in Latin America are often categorised into two types: moderately left-wing
(for example Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay) and radically left-wing (Venezuela and Bolivia and more recently Nicaragua and Ecuador). The latter
are putting forward the notion of participatory democracy. In economic terms, they have been opposing neoliberalism and explicitly pushing America

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