In geopolitics, physical distance is not always the best indicator of the true distance that exists between two cities. Lima and Puebla are now separated by far more than 4,165 kilometers that any map indicates. Both enclaves symbolically represent two diametrically opposed views in the way of conceiving political relations in Latin America.
In age, the Lima Group (GL) is older than the Puebla (GP) by almost two years. The first was created on August 8, 2017, while the second was born on July 12, 2019. However, don’t get up early, it’s early dawn. This “early start” of GL was by no means a comparative advantage over GP. In fact, what is relevant is not the moment of birth. The key is always how you evolve along the way. GL started with great momentum but gradually evaporated. Unlike what happens with the GP, which started its trajectory inadvertently, but over the months it has become an increasingly solid geopolitical pivot at the regional level.
Why did Grupo Lima go from more to less and Grupo Puebla from less to more? Why does the GL seem to have aged so quickly and instead the GP is losing its expiration date? Here are some reasons for both.
In relation to Grupo Lima, its early obsolescence is explained because:
1) it was manufactured with a single objective: to end the government of Nicolás Maduro. The purpose will not be achieved and, therefore, its reason for existing is diluted.
2) it has a strictly cyclical footprint; it depended excessively on a correlation of forces at a given moment in history without foreseeing that in democracy there are elections and conservative/neoliberal presidents do not always win (see Macri in Argentina, the Bolivian and Peruvian case).
3) was born under Trump’s tutelage, thinking that his anti-democratic insanities could become hegemonic in Latin America. And it wasn’t in the region or in the United States, where he was unable to revalidate his mandate.
4) its genetic makeup is far from everything that concerns citizens on a daily basis. Grupo Lima never spoke of social policies or economic initiatives; not even what to do against Covid.
5) The neoliberal matrix has entered into a deep crisis, without answers or expectations, and faces a delicate bifurcation point in relation to what to do with democracy: respect or violate it when electoral victory is not achieved.
In turn, in the opposite direction, the Puebla Group keeps advancing because:
1) born outside governments, that is, it is a space that brings together former presidents, presidents and ministers, but also other alternative political representatives in some countries; in addition to academics, intellectuals and journalists. Thus, the GP conforms its solidity well above an electoral victory or defeat.
2) is characterized by the breadth of the progressive universe. It is designed with a basic premise: the divergence in nuances within progressivism is seen not as lack of unity but as strength.
3) It is dedicated to multiple tasks of public interest in Latin America: they seek to improve the economy with a wide variety of initiatives, demand responses from Covid, monitor electoral processes, raise their voices against blockades, etc.
4) has a long-term perspective (for example, ending the unfair Almagro OAS), but with a virtuous gift of ubiquity in the short term (what to do in the middle of the coup in Bolivia).
5) does not have external guardianship or internal dominator. It is evident that there are very visible faces (Marco Enríquez-Ominami in his role of articulator, Alberto Fernández and Luis Arce as presidents, now also Pedro Castillo, the presence of the Mexican government, former presidents like Zapatero, Evo, Correa , Dilma, Lula and Samper), but neither has more power than the other. The balance is in heterogeneity.
In politics, there is almost nothing that remains static. Grupo Lima thought that way and believed that the context in which it was born would persist forever. And not. That’s gone. The “end of the progressive cycle” self-prophecy failed. Their obsession with the Venezuelan government blinded them. And on top of that, they don’t have the founding North, meaning Biden rules instead of Trump.
Within this framework, the Puebla Group knew how to take steps, little by little, firmly building the foundations and a network of trust; and, from there, walk the path when walking. And most importantly: tune into the evolution of common Latin American senses regarding the need for a leading State in social policies, a fairer and more inclusive economic model, in favor of the wealth tax, more regional integration, more multilateralism and much more democracy.
Alfredo Serrano Mancilla holds a PhD in Economics, Director Celag