Daily: ¡Populista! The deadly allure of Latin America’s left wing strongmen

Before right wing populists set about ruining the world, it was Latin America’s left wing populists – the likes of Chávez, Ortega and Castro – who rattled the West and threw their own countries into tumult. Why is the strongman’s hold on his country’s politics so unyielding? Will Grant, BBC Latin America correspondent and author of Populista!, joins us from Mexico City to explain how the people’s representatives became authoritarians and despots, what it’s like as a journalist targeted by a real-world army of footsoldiers as well as online trolls, and certain dictators’ early fondness for Blairism… 

  • “It was a real baptism of fire living under Chávez. As the media, you were always in his line of fire.” 
  • “We saw godlike status being bestowed on some very fallible men”
  • “Some of these men are frighteningly militaristic and conservative… They created the conditions for the likes of Bolsonaro.” 
  • “Reagan’s obsession with Ortega was huge… His fixation fuelled a war that killed thousands.” 
  • “There’s a real appeal of the caudillo, the strongman who will come in and sort it all out.”
  • “Living and working in these environments, it stretches you as a journalist like nothing else.” 

Presented by Dorian Lynskey Produced by Andrew Harrison. Assistant producers Jacob Archbold and Jelena Sofronijevic. Music by Kenny Dickinson. Audio production by Alex Rees. THE BUNKER is a Podmasters Production.


See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.