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On global issues, Latin America is now part of the solution

Sergio Jellinek's picture


When it comes to solving global issues, Latin America is now on the side of those regions that are part of the solution and not of the problem.

This time around the region is not at the center –but rather at the receiving end- of the various crises that have visited us recently, including the global financial crisis, climate change, or the current food and fuel crises.

It is no small feat for a region that not long ago was still blaming others –countries, organizations or trends, such as globalization- for its own failures.

Triggered by the financial crises of the early 90's, this new mindset has also brought about a renewed belief in the region that the future could have different outcomes –that the time has come for Latin Americans to shape their own future.

Latin America thus successfully managed to maintain vibrant democratic systems while growing above historical averages within its own diverse circumstances.

The region rebounded from the global economic crisis as quickly and strongly as South Asia and did so without much noise or claiming 'miracle recoveries'. Instead, it firmly pursued responsible and socially sound economic policies that today have become the norm in the region.

These days Latin America is helping rich countries recover from the crisis on the strength of a growing middle class that is fueling national demand. The region has become the world's top agri-product provider, boasting the capacity to meet growing demand and to scale it up provided logistics and transport systems are improved.

Latin America's trade has greatly diversified and a good number of the most proactive countries are linked to emerging Asia economies.

Unilaterally, and despite being responsible for only about 6 percent of ozone-damaging greenhouse emissions, many countries have undertaken 'green growth' initiatives that have become global models.

While people's demands for a bigger say in national decisions rock several parts of the world, Latin America has strengthened its citizens' involvement, both at the national and local levels. Currently most governments have in place innovative accountability mechanisms –including more open and result-based national budgets, plebiscites, national consultations and several other forms of citizens' participation.

Internationally, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina joining the G-20 has raised the region's voice on global issues. Similarly, political integration mechanisms such as UNASUR have allowed the region to form a consensus on critical issues.

Latin America should not rest on its laurels and become complacent with persistent social inequities. Its recent successes should encourage the necessary reforms to expand and sustain economic growth while creating opportunities for those who only now are beginning to realize the chance of a better future.