Latin America is now nobody’s backyard, The Economist affirms

By Dialogo
September 13, 2010

Latin America is now “nobody’s backyard,” the British weekly magazine The Economist affirms in a special report devoted to this region’s rise, on the occasion of the commemoration of the bicentennials of the beginnings of the fight for independence.

Over the course of fourteen pages, the prestigious British magazine lays out the reasons the subcontinent has for celebration, especially in the economic arena, and the challenges it will have to confront in order to continuing progressing, specifying that these should be “less difficult” than those entailed in putting an end to the region’s dictatorships and stabilizing its economies following the debt crisis of 1982.

Among the achievements, The Economist highlights the “strong recovery” from the recent global crisis, of which Latin America was for the first time only an “innocent bystander, not a protagonist,” with projected growth for this year averaging 5% across the region.

This economic renaissance is also characterized by the exit of tens of millions of people from poverty, despite the fact that the region continues to be the most unequal in the world; a fall in unemployment; and growing interest from multinational companies, due especially to the region’s enormous natural resources.
The magazine nevertheless warns the region about the risk of “complacency.”

According to The Economist, Latin American productivity “is growing more slowly than elsewhere” and the region “neither saves and invests sufficiently” nor can do without making efforts to educate and innovate more, as well as to improve the healthcare system.

Added to this are other problems such as corruption and violence, illustrated by the “hideously high” crime rates in some countries.

The Economist considers that “if relations with the United States improve,” it would make it easier to carry out the needed reforms in these areas.

Although countries like Brazil, the region’s leading power, have an important role to play in dampening more anti-American attitudes, the United States’ attitude also “needs to change,” the weekly magazine notes in the editorial introducing the eight articles in the dossier.

“Worries about crime and migration” in that country, in which nearly fifty million Latinos already live, “are leading it to focus on the risks in its relationship with the neighbours more than on the opportunities,” The Economist adds.

“After two centuries of lagging behind, the southern and central parts of the Americas are at last fulfilling their potential. To help cement that success, their northern cousins should build bridges, not walls,” the editorial concludes.