This year, leftist politicians are the favorites to win presidential elections in Colombia and Brazil, taking over from right-wing incumbents, which would put the left and center-left in power in the six largest economies in the region, stretching from Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego.
Economic suffering, widening inequality, fervent anti-incumbent sentiment and mismanagement of COVID-19 have all fueled a pendulum swing away from the center-right and right-wing leaders who were dominant a few years ago.
The left has promised more equitable distribution of wealth, better public services and vastly expanded social safety nets. But the region's new leaders face serious economic constraints and legislative opposition that could restrict their ambitions — and restive voters who have been willing to punish whoever fails to deliver.
The left's gains could buoy China and undermine the United States as they compete for regional influence, analysts say, with a new crop of Latin American leaders who are desperate for economic development and more open to Beijing's global strategy of offering loans and infrastructure investment. The change could also make it harder for the United States to continue isolating authoritarian leftist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.
With rising inflation and stagnant economies, Latin America's new leaders will find it hard to deliver real change on profound problems, said Pedro Mendes Loureiro, a professor of Latin American studies at the University of Cambridge. To some extent, he said, voters are "electing the left simply because it is the opposition at the moment."
Unlike the early 2000s, when leftists won critical presidencies in Latin America, the new officeholders are saddled by debt, lean budgets, scant access to credit and, in many cases, vociferous opposition.
Eric Hershberg, director of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, said the left's winning streak is born out of widespread indignation.
"This is really about lower-middle-class and working-class sectors saying, 'Thirty years into democracy, and we still have to ride a decrepit bus for two hours to get to a bad health clinic,'"Hershberg said.
How European Royals Once Shared Their Most Important Secrets 歐洲王室曾用這招 分享最重要的祕密
文/William J. Broad
To safeguard the most important royal correspondence against snoops and spies in the 16th century, writers employed a complicated means of security. They'd fold the letter, then cut a dangling strip, using that as an improvised thread to sew stitches that locked the letter and turned the flat writing paper into its own envelope. To get inside, a spy would have to snip the lock open, an act impossible to go undetected.
Catherine de' Medici used the method in 1570 — a time she governed France while her ill son, King Charles IX, sat on its throne. Queen Elizabeth I did so in 1573 as the sovereign ruler of England and Ireland. And Mary Queen of Scots used it in 1587 just hours before her long effort to unite Britain ended in her beheading.
"These people knew more than one way to send a letter, and they chose this one," said Jana Dambrogio, lead author of a study that details Renaissance-era politicians' use of the technique, and a conservator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. "You had to be highly confident to make a spiral lock. If you made a mistake, you'd have to start all over, which could take hours of rewriting and restitching. It's fascinating. They took great pains to build up their security."
Disclosure of the method's wide use among European royalty is the latest venture of a group of scholars, centered at MIT, into a vanished art they call letterlocking — an early form of communications security that they're busy resurrecting. Early last year, they reported their development of a virtual-reality technique that let them peer into locked letters without tearing them apart and damaging the historical record.
Now, in a detailed article that appeared last December in the Electronic British Library Journal, the scholars lay out their expanding universe of discoveries and questions. They showcase instances of spiral letterlocking among the queens and posit that the method "spread across European courts through royal correspondence."
Although the use of locked letters faded in the 1830s with the emergence of mass-produced envelopes and improved systems of mail delivery, it's now seen as a fascinating precursor to the widespread encryption used globally in electronic communications.
•老闆請你mind the shop，不是請你留意哪一家商店，而是… Mandy的老闆要開會，他對Mandy說："Would you mind the shop while I'm in this meeting?""Mind the shop?" 是哪一家店？要留意什麼？Mandy覺得很疑惑。"Mind the shop" 是辦公室裡經常聽到的口語表達，老闆要你mind the shop，可不是要你留意哪一家商店。