Latin America in perspective: Between successes and new challenges


An article by Raffaele Morgantini , Tarik Bouafia, Investig’Action

After the lost decades of the 1980s and 1990s that saw Latin America falling into extreme poverty, mass unemployment and the explosion of public debt, the continent has since raised its head and has become an ambitious laboratory experiment for new social and economic policies. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina … austerity cures imposed on some countries in the region by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have been abandoned in favor of stimulus policies where the state has taken up a key role in managing the economy.

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While some Latin American countries regain their dignity and sovereignty, in Europe, it is the opposite: austerity has wreaked havoc. Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece … no country is spared. While the GDP is collapsing, poverty, unemployment, and exploding debt continue to increase. The anti-social austerity policies have provoked popular uprisings that have shaken the powers that be. The parties of the radical left, Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain (who say they want to follow the directions taken by Ecuador or Argentina about the burden of debt), are leading in the polls and producing alarm in Brussels and the financial markets. In addition, there are countless associations, unions, political parties and alternative media in Europe who are applauding the Latin American success. There is a new euphoria in the European radical left, which contrasts with the vision of reactionaries, grotesque, crude and misleading, wanting to ensure that things do not change.

In the past, many Latin Americans looked admiringly at Europe. And even today, Europe is fascinating. This regard towards the old continent comes from many factors: cultural, historical, economic. Some want to know their “motherland” such as Spain and Portugal. Others, such as Argentina, want to go to Italy, the land of their ancestors. Finally, some associate Europe with its history, its great culture and architecture.

But lately, things have started to reverse with regard to Europe’s economic attractiveness. While there are still some Latin Americans trying to reach Europe to better their social and economic conditions, the situation has changed in recent years. The political changes that occurred in many countries of the Bolivarian continent slowed the mass exodus that characterized the years 1980-1990 and early 2000. The innovative economic and social policies driven by some countries of the region in order to bring their people a more dignified life have prompted many people to stay in their country rather than emigrate. Especially now that the story has turned around and today it is Europe that suffers austerity policies. The high levels of unemployment experienced by Spain and Portugal have made ‚Äč‚Äčthose countries less attractive. The Europe that once dominated and had been so contemptuous of its former colonies is now sick and now longer inspires. The situation is so dramatic that many Latin American citizens, including Argentinians, who emigrated in the early 2000s to escape the terrible economic situation have decided to return home.

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Question for this article:

Movements against governmental fiscal austerity, are they part of the global movement for a culture of peace?

Readers’ comments are invited on this question.