Watch out World ....it is time for a different America(s)!!
While the entire world was hooked on the financial tsunami in the West and the US, the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and the remarkable story of the Chinese juggernaut, there is one vast region of the world that is slowly but inexorably changing its former contour and getting ready for global dominance. Not only Brazil, which is already a part of the new order (BRICS-Brazil, Russia, China, India & South Africa), but waves of reform are sweeping across the entire Latin American continent. Gone are the days when the heads of the states were puny subservient America’s stooges whose only motive was to entrench America’s influence in the region. But over a last few decades a new order of leaders have emerged who have sought to end the pernicious American influence on their soil, by formulating policies that are geared towards betterment of the general populace. This has resulted in a political and socio-economic paradigm shift within the continent, where a new breed of socialist rulers is ruling the roost.
Change In World Order
Latin America logically was the first region outside its boundaries, where the US strove to exert its geopolitical dominance. Over the course of time, America’s influence became so pervasive that this region became a de facto colony. Throughout the Cold war America strengthened its iron like grip on the continent and resorted to any means necessary to stem the spread of Communism. But since the dawn of the new millennium Latin saw the emergence of a coterie of assertive leaders who wanted desperately to shake of the American yoke.
It is quite evident from the latest developments that Western Europe and America’s hegemony over global politics is coming to an end and in the coming years there will a reshuffling of geopolitical order. The meteoric rise of emerging economies like China and India and now the resurgence of Latin America are all cues pointing to that particular inevitability. These seismic shifts are helping to create a level playing field, where Latin America on the back of its strong economic growth and other indicators, is poised to be a major player. Leaders like Hugo Chavez ( Venezuela), Ricardo Lagos (Chile) and Lucas Silva (Argentina) are instinctively socialist and have tried assiduously to reduce their nation’s dependence on US. Consequently, the policies they enacted to boost domestic growth helped their nations to come out of the recession relatively unscathed. While their once mighty neighbor is still tottering on the brink of disaster, Latin America’s growth trajectory has been impressive.
Economic and Social Growth
Buoyed by the growth, Latin America is fast becoming the cynosure of every investor. With a collective population of nearly I billion and a combined GDP of $6 trillion – Latin America no longer remains relegated as US’s “backyard”. Every company or investor who views emerging economies as a vital cog in their wheel, is leaving no stone unturned to have a substantial presence in Latin America. With a young demographic and better life expectancy rate, Latin American consumers are pursued relentlessly every major brand. In 2010 when the growth in North America and Europe grinded to a halt, Brazil’s economy surged by an impressive 9% - it’s fastest in fourteen years. Not only Brazil other nations like Peru, Chile remained relatively insulated from recessionary tremors and recorded impressive growth. Richardo Lagos,the billionaire president in Chille is taking all the right measures to boost investment and transform Chile into a financial and commercial hub of the region. Argentina, rich in natural resources is also experiencing unprecedented boom with an increase in literacy and employment rates. While the rest of the world is still grappling with recession, Brazil and this entire region largely have been able to rebound from its effects in a very short span of time.
There also has been a slew of initiatives, masterminded by Brazil for strong inter regional cooperation in trade commerce and other avenues. As a result free trade agreements have been made to give trade and commerce a major boost. Although this block is rapidly becoming America’s largest trading partner its leaders are determined to expand their export portfolio and lessen their American dependence. Consequently Latin America’s trade volumes with China and Middle East in the past few years have really amplified.
In social parameters also Latin America has improved by leaps and bounds. In the last five years or so Brazil alone has lifted more than 30 million people from poverty- a stupendous feat unattainable by even developed nations. Poverty as a whole dropped by 17% in this region. People’s standards of living overall have improved and no wonder Cuba boasts of a better Gini coefficient (a coefficient which determines degree of equality) than USA.
Bottlenecks and Conclusion
However, still there are a large number of teething issues that can potentially derail the region’s growth. Corruption is still running rampant in this region. High crime rates are also a major cause of concern and lot more efforts need to be put in for poverty alleviation. Also the much maligned political system, where every leader tends to turn dictatorial and refuse to let go off power, needs to be remedied. Democracy must be the order of the day and in that regard the rest of Latin America must take a leaf out of Brazil’s books to plug its social and political loopholes.
The sun might have already set on its once illustrious neighbor, but right policies and measures will see it shine brightly on this continent for a long time.