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Another Step To The Left in Latin America?

Now it's Peru:

One of Latin America's most extraordinary political families is poised to produce another of the continent's Left-wing authoritarian leaders with no love for Washington.

Ollanta Humala is one of two favourites to become Peru's next president, a role for which, to believe his mother, he has been groomed from birth. [snip]

"The new world struggle is not between the Left and the Right, it is between the globalisers and the globalised and Peru falls into the latter category," he [Humala] said.

"We have to fight the pernicious effects of globalisation. I am a nationalist and anti-imperialist."

The former army colonel and coup leader is now only a few points behind the frontrunner for the April 9 elections, Lourdes Flores, in polls that underplay his support among the poor. His victory would usher into power yet another Latin American Left-winger hostile to the United States, like his friends Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and President Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet will be sworn in on Saturday as the new president of Chile. Andres Oppenheimer pens a tribute to outgoing Chilean President Ricardo Lagos in today's Miami Herald that includes this Q&A:

Q: A recent Globescan poll shows that Latin America is the world's region that is most critical of free-market capitalism. Can the region draw more investments with that attitude?

Lagos: ``I'm not surprised to find that response in Latin America. Too many countries have grown, have followed Washington's recipes, yet people haven't seen any benefits of that at their home level. Progress is seen on TV, but not at home. But investments are important. Latin America's defect is often wanting to blame others outside our hemisphere or our region for our problems. I'm not saying that there aren't things that need to be fixed -- but we often forget that our first responsibility is to put our house in order. In that sense, we need clear policies to attract investments.''

And Der Spiegel runs an interview with President-elect Bachelet touching on the legacy of Pinochet and the prospect of dealing with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez and his "axis of good." Chile remains one of the few brightspots in South America. Washington should take extra care to maintain good relations with Ms. Bachelet's socialist government to help make sure it resists the siren song of Chavez's anti-American, anti-globlization influence that continues to make gains across the continent.