BOGOTÁ, Colombia — In Chile, a tattooed former student activist won the presidency with a pledge to oversee the most profound transformation of Chilean society in decades, widening the social safety net and shifting the tax burden to the wealthy.
In Peru, the son of poor farmers was propelled to victory on a vow to prioritize struggling families, feed the hungry and correct longstanding disparities in access to health care and education.
In Colombia, a former rebel and longtime legislator was elected the country’s first leftist president, promising to champion the rights of Indigenous, Black and poor Colombians, while building an economy that works for everyone.
election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and could culminate with a victory later this year by a leftist candidate in Brazil, leaving the region’s six largest economies run by leaders elected on leftist platforms.
A combination of forces have thrust this new group into power, including an anti-incumbent fervor driven by anger over chronic poverty and inequality, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and have deepened frustration among voters who have taken out their indignation on establishment candidates.
sliding backward, and instead of a boom, governments face pandemic-battered budgets, galloping inflation fed by the war in Ukraine, rising migration and increasingly dire economic and social consequences of climate change.
In Argentina, where the leftist Alberto Fernández took the reins from a right-wing president in late 2019, protesters have taken to the streets amid rising prices. Even larger protests erupted recently in Ecuador, threatening the government of one of the region’s few newly elected right-wing presidents, Guillermo Lasso.
“I don’t want to be apocalyptic about it,” said Cynthia Arnson, a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “But there are times when you look at this that it feels like the perfect storm, the number of things hitting the region at once.”
Chile and Colombia, have shown people the power of the streets.
five of the six largest economies in the region will be run by leaders who campaigned from the left.
focused on austerity, is reducing spending.
What does link these leaders, however, are promises for sweeping change that in many instances are running headlong into difficult and growing challenges.
Ninety percent of poll respondents told the polling firm Cadem this month that they believed the country’s economy was stuck or going backward.
Like many neighbors in the region, Chile’s yearly inflation rate is the highest it’s been in more than a generation, at 11.5 percent, spurring a cost-of-living crisis.
In southern Chile, a land struggle between the Mapuche, the country’s largest Indigenous group, and the state has entered its deadliest phase in 20 years, leading Mr. Boric to reverse course on one of his campaign pledges and redeploy troops in the area.
Catalina Becerra, 37, a human resources manager from Antofagasta, in northern Chile, said that “like many people of my generation” she voted for Mr. Boric because Mr. Kast, “didn’t represent me in the slightest.”
according to the Institute of Peruvian Studies — is now subject to five criminal probes, has already faced two impeachment attempts and cycled through seven interior ministers.
40 percent of households now live on less than $100 a month, less than half of the monthly minimum wage — while inflation has hit nearly 10 percent.
Still, despite widespread financial anxiety, Mr. Petro’s actions as he prepares to assume office seem to have earned him some support.
He has made repeated calls for national consensus, met with his biggest political foe, the right-wing former president Álvaro Uribe and appointed a widely respected, relatively conservative and Yale-educated finance minister.
The moves may allow Mr. Petro to govern more successfully than say Mr. Boric, said Daniel García-Peña, a political scientist, and have calmed down some fears about how he will try to revive the economy.
But given how quickly the honeymoon period ended for others, Mr. Petro will have precious little time to start delivering relief.
“Petro must come through for his voters,” said Hernan Morantes, 30, a Petro supporter and environmental activist. “Social movements must be ready, so that when the government does not come through, or does not want to come through, we’re ready.”
Julie Turkewitz reported from Bogotá, Colombia, Mitra Taj from Lima, Peru and John Bartlett from Santiago, Chile. Genevieve Glatsky contributed reporting from Bogotá.
LIMA, Peru — Peru’s presidential election is headed for a runoff, with Pedro Castillo, a far-left former union activist and teacher, in the lead, according to data released Monday by the country’s electoral body.
He will likely face a right-wing candidate in a second round of voting in June.
Mr. Castillo, a social conservative, was one of 18 candidates, and tapped into a wave of anti-establishment sentiment in an election characterized by widespread frustration with the political system.
He is likely headed into a runoff with Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the jailed former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori, according to a survey of electoral tallies by the firm Ipsos for a local television channel. Trailing behind Ms. Fujimori is an ultraconservative, Rafael López Ariaga.
Either pairing would set the stage for a highly polarized second-round election, the results of which could steer the country in radically different directions.
lasted less than a week in office, is under investigation in connection with the fatal shootings of two young men at protests, which led to his resignation.
With 84 percent of the votes tallied on Monday, Mr. Castillo was leading with 18.5 percent of the vote on Monday morning, more than four points ahead of his closest rival.
Mr. Castillo, 51, wants to nationalize the country’s natural resources to help pay for investments in health care and education; promises to have a top court elected by popular mandate; and is proposing a new constitution to favor ordinary Peruvians and not business interests.
In the run-up to the election, Mr. Castillo drew large crowds in rural towns, but did not receive broad coverage in national media until polls showed him surging to around 6 percent a week before the election.
He celebrated his surprise victory from the poverty-stricken highland region of Cajamarca, where as a youth he was part of the peasant security patrol that enforces local laws and customs.
“The blindfold has just been taken off the eyes of the Peruvian people,” Mr. Castillo told throngs of supporters in Cajamarca on Sunday night, wearing the wide-brimmed hat of farmers in the region.
“We’re often told that only political scientists, constitutionalists, erudite politicians, those with grand degrees can govern a country,” he said. “They’ve had time enough.”
Ms. Fujimori, who is making her third bid for president, has been jailed three times in recent years in connection with an ongoing money laundering probe. In this election, she vowed to stop pandemic lockdowns and crack down on crime.
On Sunday, Marianela Linares, 43, a Castillo supporter, said he represented “the big change” voters have been looking for but have thus far failed to find in traditional politicians.
“We’ve always been deceived by high-level people who always said they’d help us get ahead but have lied to us,” said Ms. Linares, a public-school teacher in the Amazonian town of Puerto Maldonado. “He knows what need is. He knows what hunger is, and what it means to live in misery.”