Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s inauguration as president of Mexico will soon be followed by Jair Bolsonaro’s accession to the presidency of Brazil and US President Donald Trump’s completion of two years in office. In each case, a populist leader’s rise could have been prevented, which should serve as a lesson for democrats everywhere.
Brazilian authorities have banned former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from running for reelection, owing to a corruption conviction. Unfortunately, this strict interpretation of a statute Lula himself signed could open the way for an election result that ultimately subverts the rule of law – and takes democracy down with it.
Of the three main contenders in Mexico’s presidential election, none was as ill-prepared as the winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to manage the bully in the White House. Now Mexicans will have to face the consequences of their choice, just as their country – more than most – must face the consequences of Americans’ choice in 2016.
Once again, a serious breach of representative democracy has occurred in Latin America. Despite all the regional legal tools that have been created in recent years, an unfair and scarcely free election was probably stolen, or at best, tainted to the point that the result cannot be considered reliable.
From a peace agreement in Colombia to major cross-border anti-corruption efforts, 2017 was shaping up to be a banner year for Latin America. Then came Donald Trump, whose threats of military intervention in Venezuela, together with anti-trade and anti-immigration policies at home, sent shock waves throughout the region.
During the Spanish Civil War, thousands of young Americans went to Spain to join the fight against fascism as part of the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Today, as more people wake up to the threat that US President Donald Trump poses to the rule of law, human rights, and international order, a new global resistance movement is emerging to defend democracy and basic decency.