Latin America's 'pink tide' leaders congratulate Brazil's Lula on election win

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks after a bilateral meeting with Chile's President Gabriel Boric (not pictured) at the Casa de Narino, in Bogota, Colombia, August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez/File Photo

SAO PAULO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Latin America leaders on Sunday congratulated Brazil's Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva after he won a third term as president of the largest country in South America, consolidating the region's "pink tide" of elected leftist leaders.

His victory over far-right president Jair Bolsonaro leaves Brazil joining Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru in a growing leftist bloc.

"Long live Lula," tweeted Colombia's Gustavo Petro, who in June was elected his country's first leftist president.

Lula narrowly defeated Bolsonaro, winning 50.9% of votes. The 77-year-old's inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 1.

He has promised to return to state-led economic policies, increased social welfare assistance and greater protection for the Amazon rainforest.

The pink tide first described a wave of leftist governments that emerged in the early 2000s starting with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, as well as Lula himself. Countries over the following decade swung to the right.

But the pink tide returned as rampant inflation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led frustrated voters in Latin America to ditch mainstream parties and follow promises of greater social spending.

"Congratulations brother," wrote Bolivian President Luis Arce. "Your victory strengthens democracy and integration in Latin America."

"Democracy won today in Brazil," said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose ties to Lula were frequently cited by Bolsonaro to question the Workers Party's commitment to democracy.

"Long live the people who are dedicated to being free, sovereign and independent."

Reporting by Steven Grattan; editing by Grant McCool

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