What the Shakeup in Buenos Aires Means for Latin America

What the Shakeup in Buenos Aires Means for Latin America

Mauricio Macri’s victory is an inflection point for Argentina and its neighbors. 


Kirchner will peacefully transfer power to Macri’s administration, though the kirchneristas will do everything in their power to thwart Macri from the opposition benches. In Venezuela, by contrast, Maduro and the chavistas have arrested and detained many opposition leaders on political charges, including one of the most charismatic opposition voices, Leopoldo Lopez, and former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma. Maduro’s government has registered alternative parties with similar names to opposition parties to confuse voters, cowed what’s left of Venezuela’s independent media and intimidated and harassed opposition supporters in what might be the world’s worst-performing economy today. Runaway inflation, depressed oil prices, obsolete and decreasing oil production, widespread graft among the military and chavistas alike and a shortage of dollars and imports make Argentina’s economy look sanguine in comparison.

After years of eroding the line between chavismo and the state, no one expects the December 6 vote to be free or fair. Even if the opposition overcomes these disadvantages and wins a majority in Venezuela’s national assembly, no one even knows if they will be able to exercise any real power, because Maduro can use any number of legal tricks to consolidate ‘emergency’ powers within the presidency.

If, as expected, Maduro and the ruling chavistas cling to power in the aftermath of the December legislative elections, Macri’s democratic victory will further highlight how Venezuela’s rulers have hollowed out its democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Kevin A. Lees is an attorney in Washington, DC, and the editor of Suffragio.org.

Image: Flickr/Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires