Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul by Michael Reid

By Michael Reid

Latin the US has usually been condemned to failure. Neither negative sufficient to awaken Africa’s ethical campaign, nor as explosively booming as India and China, it has principally been ignored by means of the West. but this gigantic continent, domestic to part one billion humans, the world’s biggest reserves of arable land, and 8.5 percentage of world oil, is busily reworking its political and financial landscape. This e-book argues that instead of failing the attempt, Latin America’s efforts to construct fairer and extra wealthy societies make it one of many world’s so much full of life laboratories for capitalist democracy. in lots of countries—including Brazil, Chile and Mexico—democratic leaders are laying the rules for speedier fiscal progress and extra inclusive politics, in addition to tackling deep-rooted difficulties of poverty, inequality, and social injustice. They face a brand new problem from Hugo Ch?vez’s oil-fuelled populism, and masses is at stake. Failure increases the stream of substances and unlawful immigrants to the U.S. and Europe, jeopardize balance in a sector wealthy in oil and different strategic commodities, and threaten many of the world's such a lot majestic typical environments. Drawing on Michael Reid’s decades of reporting from within Latin America’s towns, presidential palaces, and shantytowns, the ebook offers a vibrant, instant, and knowledgeable account of a dynamic continent and its fight to compete in a globalized world.   (20080323)

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Chile represents a sharp contrast to Argentina, its trans-Andean neighbour to the east. Its compact geography – or at least that of its populated central third – and relative ethnic homogeneity helped it to become a cohesive nationstate long before many others in the region. Simón Bolívar, South America’s 22 FORGOTTEN CONTINENT independence hero, spotted Chile’s potential early: ‘If any American republic is to endure,’ he wrote in 1815, ‘I am inclined to believe it will be Chile ... ’ 45 Chile achieved political stability by the 1830s.

Success in both economic and social policy means THE FORGOTTEN CONTINENT 15 not just subscribing to the new centrist consensus but putting its tenets into practice. That points to the need for a new, more practical, brand of politics. Democracy means that technocrats, however enlightened, are unlikely to enjoy the kind of freedom to impose modernising economic policies that they enjoyed under Porfirio Díaz, Mexico’s dictator of a century ago, or again, in many countries (including Mexico) for much of the 1980s and 1990s.

As already noted, that legacy has involved a further shared characteristic: deep inequality in the distribution of income, wealth and (until recently, at least) political influence. Many, but not all, of the larger countries suffer from challenging geography. Indeed, one of the most striking differences in Latin America is between coastal and mountain peoples, irrespective of country. As elsewhere in the world, the coast tends to be more outward-looking, commercially minded and racially mulato, while people of the mountains are more conservative and more Indian.

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