It has been generations in the making but, on 19 June, the first ever leftist president of Colombia was elected. Gustavo Petro defeated his right-wing opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, in a second-round run-off with 50.4 percent of the vote against 47.3 percent. The traditional conservative and centre-left coalitions were both defeated in the first round, winning 24 percent and 4 percent of the vote respectively.
As the sun began to fall in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday, the streets of the capital filled. Thousands celebrated the victory of 35-year-old former student leader Gabriel Boric over his extreme right-wing opponent, José Antonio Kast, in the second round of the country’s presidential election.
The Argentine left has entered what it is calling a new period. The Workers’ Left Front—Unity (FIT-U), an electoral coalition of Trotskyist parties, won more than 1 million votes and secured more than 5 percent of the vote nationally in the September primary elections, which will be followed by mid-term congressional elections in November. The result firmly establishes the FIT-U as the third largest political force in the country and indicates that the coalition could potentially win up to six seats in Congress.
Millions of people across Colombia have joined strikes and demonstrations against the far-right government of Iván Duque. Beginning in response to the president’s paquetazo—an austerity package that includes a value-added tax that would raise the cost of living for millions of poor and working-class Colombians—the youth-led rebellion has moved beyond initial opposition to the tax bill into calls for the resignation of Duque.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has denied the severity of the pandemic, and his government’s inaction is responsible for the death of more than 2,000 people every day. It has been called a genocide by many, the official death toll surpassing 400,000 (a number probably well below the actual figures).
As governments fight over which country will get the most vaccines soonest (and at the best price) and whose pharmaceutical companies will make the most money, it’s easy to think that there’s no other realistic way of producing and distributing the vaccines needed to roll back and, hopefully, eventually stop the coronavirus epidemic.