Yes, Latin America has taken a leftward step. That, however, does not mean that Latin America is becoming Chávez Country. The true story of Latin American politics is that the left has moved to the center, advocating a new brand of capitalism with a heart. The new Latin American left is no threat to the United States. In fact, it has much to teach Washington.
If the United States truly wants to regain its standing, it could study the views of socialists like Bachelet and Lula, who don't turn their backs on democracy or capitalism but recognize that the state does have a role to play in alleviating the suffering of the poorest of the poor and in providing the tools to help them become
productive citizens with a measure of human dignity. As one Buenos Aires resident told me, "The real danger in Latin America is not Chávez; it's poverty.''