New regional center-right club ready to launch tomorrow

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The former presidents of Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, and others will attend the first meeting of the center-right “Liberty and Democracy” organization tomorrow in Santiago, hosted by former Chilean head of state Sebastián Piñera.

In a press release yesterday, the group said its goals would include “the creation of a space for thought, coordination, dialogue, and actions to strengthen freedom and democracy in Ibero-America.”

The group, whose creation was conceived last year as the political left swept to power across Latin America with electoral victories in Chile and Colombia, will provide an opportunity for their political rivals on the right, who are looking to join efforts in order to regain regional momentum.

Among those invited are Argentina’s former president, Mauricio Macri, Colombia’s Andrés Pastrana and Iván Duque, Mexico’s Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón, Bolivia’s Jorge Quiroga, and Spain’s José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy.

Only two current presidents will be present: Ecuador’s Guillermo Lasso and Paraguay’s Mario Abdo, a sign of how much power the center-right has lost regionally over the past half-decade.

Back in 2017, the right was on the rise across the continent, with most Latin American countries belonging to the Lima Group, which explicitly supported the Venezuelan opposition in its conflict against the authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro. Now, the Lima Group is all but defunct, and most of the presidents who pushed it forward are out of office. 

One notable absentee will be Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, which may be a signal that the group wants to distance itself from the far-right after the riots in Brasília, which most of them condemned. Although the Colombian right is well represented, former President Álvaro Uribe, seen by many as the real leader of his country’s right, is also absent from the list.

In a statement, the group said it plans to include more leaders in the future, some of them politicians, but also members of civil society and academia.

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