Citing inefficient political reforms and lack of sufficient help from the United States, a group of journalists attempted to explain why growth in Latin America has stagnated after what they called promising strides made a decade ago.
In a panel discussion in the Law School, the group focused on the current state of affairs in Latin America and offered opinions as to why growth in the region has stagnated after promising strides a decade ago.
The panel specifically addressed the role of neo-liberal politics in Latin America. Panel moderator Gilbert Joseph, the director of the Council of Latin American Studies, asked the panelists to discuss the impact and reception of democratic reforms in Latin America.
“What we’re seeing now is dissatisfaction and discontent with what democracy has brought to the table,” said panelist Rossana Fuentes, who works in Mexico as the managing editor of Foreign Affairs en Espanol.
Preston said that in order for democracy to thrive, the economies of Latin American countries need both to grow and to improve the distribution of wealth, a combination no political group has shown itself able to achieve.
“The left has not demonstrated that it can create and sustain growth, and the right cannot distribute wealth,” she said.
Political parties are going through a time of crisis and soul-searching, Fuentes said. Internal rivalries and doubts about competency from the general population have both weakened political parties and decreased their effectiveness in creating reform, she added.
Fuentes said the general weakness of Latin American governments has recently led many observers to call Latin American countries “ungovernable.” Fuentes said that in Mexico, where “95 percent of street crime goes unpunished,” this is not entirely false.
“The lack of the rule of the law in Mexico is at the root of it,” she said.
All these problems have not only plagued Latin American nations, which have experienced almost no growth in 20 years according to Fuentes, but have also put ever-increasing pressure on U.S.-Latin American relations.
Consuelo Saavedra, of National Television of Chile, said that the United States has not even come close to fulfilling promises it has made to Latin American countries. During his campaign, President George W. Bush made many promises to the region, especially establishing free trade within the hemisphere, but has not taken action on any of the promises, she said.
“What happened to the promise of a helping hand from the north?” Saavedra asked.
The U.S. has not shown enough commitment to Latin America, Saavedra said, although it goes out of its way to help many countries much farther from home.
“Restructuring costs money,” she said. “It cannot be done without credit, and Argentina has no credit. It’s international hypocrisy. Other countries that the U.S. thinks are more important, like Turkey, get the money, but Argentina doesn’t.”