The era of U.S.-sponsored, direct military interventions in the affairs of Latin America appears to have ended, with the U.S. instead retreating to an attempt at domination via the “dollar diplomacy” of institutions like the International Monetary Fund. In direct response to the decades of neoliberal domination, the region has recently seen an undeniable orientation towards “socialism.” This analysis will focus on the five “socialist” Latin American nations–Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Cuba, who have joined the ‘Pink Tide’ of the 21st Century Socialism movement. The supporting institution of this movement, the Bolivarian Alliance (Alianza Bolivariana para los pueblos de nuestra América, or ALBA) will be examined as the important bedrock of the constituents’ alternative, socialist development. This work will highlight the recent history of each of these themes, expanding on its modern political and economic characteristics, which will be used to close each theme with a prediction for future directions.
It is necessary to begin with a discussion of the meaning of the word ‘socialism’. Many researchers of the 21st century socialism campaign treat the subject with skepticism, calling “socialism” in this case a misnomer. While acknowledging that line of thought, this research brief will instead treat the movement as a self-defining entity. Thus, the ‘socialism‘ investigated here does not involve political theoretics about the meaning of the word; rather, this analysis seeks to explain the 21st century socialism camp in terms of their actions, style, and rhetoric. As such, this work serves only as a broad overview of the topic, highlighting nations’ achievements, challenges, similarities, and differences without exhausting the depths of possible analysis each could merit in a work of less scope. It is with this methodology in mind that this research brief is structured.