O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador LATIN AMERICA. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador LATIN AMERICA. Mostrar todas as postagens

quinta-feira, 10 de agosto de 2017

Geopolitics in Latin America, old and new - Detlef Nolt, Leslie E. Wehner (2015)

I have just downloaded this interesting paper:

Detlef Nolt, Leslie E. Wehner: 
Geopolitics in Latin America, old and new
Routledge Handbook of Latin American Security
London: Routledge, 2015
Accessed on 9 Aug 2017


terça-feira, 7 de março de 2017

Ditaduras e repressao na America Latina:book reviews

Krepp on Iber, 'Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America' [review]

by System Administrator

Patrick Iber. Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America. Cambridge:    Harvard University Press, 2015. 336 pp. $39.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-674-28604-7.

Reviewed by Stella Krepp (University of Bern)
Published on H-LatAm (March, 2017)
Commissioned by Casey M. Lurtz

Patrick Iber’s Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America is a study of the transnational political Left in Latin America. Suitably titled with a quote by Leon Trotsky, who in many ways epitomized the struggle within the political Left in Mexico, it relates how the project of a social democracy failed.

In the past two decades, scholars have called for new ways to write the history of a Latin American Cold War that would allow for Latin American agency and voices.[1] As a result, historians have highlighted the local roots of the conflict; illuminated the inter-American dimension; and examined how Latin Americans colluded, shaped, and resisted the Cold War.[2] However, by and large, scholarship still emphasizes a Cold War paradigm that places US-Latin American relations in the context of anti-communist struggle and US security policies, focusing the attention of Left and Right alike on military interventions, economic influence, and diplomatic relations to the detriment of cultural aspects of international relations.[3] This makes Patrick Iber’s book on the cultural dimension of the Cold War within Latin America a very welcome contribution.

Highlighting the role of intellectuals as “privileged communicators” between the masses and the state (p. 1), Iber directs his focus not at the authoritarian Right but at the fragmented political Left in Latin America, more specifically Mexico, and its struggle regarding “how to bring about a humane socialism that would balance social justice and individual freedom” (p. 3). As Iber recounts, this was far from a united and solidary Left, but a fragmented one, and the major fault lines ran between the advocates of social democracy and proponents of socialism or communism. He advances this argument by studying the three major players in the Cultural Cold War—the Soviet Union, the United States, and Cuba—through their front organizations: the Soviet-sponsored World Peace Council (WPC); the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) financed through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); and the Cuban Casa de las Américas, as each tried to mobilize and instrumentalize culture as a vehicle for its Cold War message and vision of social progress.

Iber convincingly relates how the cultural Cold War was rooted in the pre-Cold War history of the region, starting in the 1930s and 1940s, when exiles from the Spanish Civil War and communist dissidents such as Trotsky himself migrated to Mexico. These exiles carried with them the political divisions and animosities of their home societies. This “international civil war among left-wing intellectuals” acquired a new dynamic with the East-West confrontation after World War II (p. 47).

In chapter 2, Iber focuses on the WPC. Sponsored, supported, and guided by the Soviet Union, the WPC attempted to draft artists into a cultural Cold War through the promotion of “peace.” By the late 1950s, however, its never extensive influence had waned and was replaced by the Casa de las Américas as the defining cultural institution of the radical Left. Chapter 3 deals with the CCF. Backed by the United States and financed by the CIA, the CCF’s official aim was to promote social democracy and to denounce the totalitarian visions of the USSR and later Cuba. In one of the most fascinating accounts of the book, Iber narrates how the CCF nurtured the political Left in Cuba throughout the 1950s, and thus unwittingly enabled the revolution to succeed. In the end, the unmasking of the CCF as CIA-backed in the late 1960s spelled out the end of the reformist project.

The turning point that transformed the political Left was, without doubt, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, a home-grown socialist model that soon replaced the Soviet Union as the reference point in Latin America. Likewise, the Cuban Casa de las Américas became the central institution to spread this socialist vision, a story explored by Iber in chapter 4. However, despite inspiring a generation of the political Left in Latin America, the Cuban Revolution also exacerbated the already existing rift within the Left. Many of the earlier supporters of Fidel Castro were forced into exile or severely punished, and soon the regime drew criticism for its authoritarian streak and political as well as cultural censorship.

Ultimately, as Iber relates, by the 1970s all three utopias had failed and with them the belief that intellectuals and artists could and should play a fundamental role in mediating these social visions. Rather, and this would be a fascinating theme for another book, we see the rise of social scientists and technocrats from the beginning of the 1960s. These utopias failed on many fronts, but particularly because of the inherent contradictions in their political programs. In the case of the CCF, preaching liberalism but stifling dissent showcased the very limited notion of freedom the organization promoted. More important, as political events such as the 1964 military coup in Brazil and the blatantly illegal US intervention in the Dominican Republic of 1965 showed, building a social democratic Left with a benevolent and friendly United States was nigh impossible.

Likewise, by the late 1960s, with Ernesto Guevara dead and his foco theory proven wrong, as well as the Cuban endorsement of the 1968 Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia, the Cuban model lost much of its appeal. In the case of the Casa de las Américas, proclaiming freedom but only within a very restrictive definition of the revolution along the lines of the famous dictum “within the revolution everything; against the revolution, nothing” led to disenchantment among the Left. Ultimately, these visions failed because every organization failed to practice what it preached.

Intriguingly, despite the close ideological and financial links with their backers, Iber shows how these front organizations were not simple instruments of hegemony, but hybrid organizations that allowed artists and activists to shape debates and “localize” the Cold War. Moving through different case studies, Iber demonstrates that distinct cultural and historic contexts mattered, just as much as the people who were involved. With his nuanced analysis, he denounces the view that the United States, and in consequence the CIA, was omnipotent or omnipresent. While the United States and the USSR financed and set the agenda for the cultural front organizations, local branches acquired their own dynamics and controlling staff or artists proved difficult to manage. In the end, the actions of the front organizations often had unintended consequences as the Cuban case aptly highlights. Iber narrates one such example in chapter 6, showing how the CCF successfully “modernized” and incorporated a number of Latin American voices in the Mexican case, while in the 1960s, such attempts yielded few results in Brazil and Argentina. Ultimately, modernization never fully materialized because CIA involvement in the CCF was uncovered in 1966-67.

Iber’s Neither Peace nor Freedom is a thought-provoking book and deserves much praise, so I have only minor quibbles to add. While the trope of Mexican exceptionalism is not helpful, one wonders if what Iber relates is truly a Latin American cultural war or, in essence, actually a Mexican one. While he offers excursions to Brazil, Argentina, and more extensively to Cuba, Mexico remains the pivotal center. Of course there are limits to the archival work historians can aspire to, but I was left wondering, as a non-Mexicanist, if the Mexican case was indicative for the whole region or rather a special case. My own impression is that the Cold War in South America acquired a very distinct trajectory. In sum, it raises the questions how to contextualize Mexican history in broader Latin American history.

This is a carefully crafted and elegantly written book that charts the ebb and flow of the cultural Cold War and simultaneously highlights the local Latin American dimension. The book is meticulously researched, and—no mean feat—an enjoyable read.


[1]. Gilbert Joseph and Daniela Spenser, eds, In from the Cold: Latin America’s New Encounter with the Cold War (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008); Greg Grandin, “Off the Beach: The United States, Latin America, and the Cold War,” in A Companion to Post-45 America, ed. Jean-Christophe Agnew and Roy Rosenzweig (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002); and Max Friedman, “Retiring the Puppets, Letting Latin America Back In: Recent Scholarship on United States-Latin American Relations,” Diplomatic History 7, no. 5 (November 2003): 621-636.

[2]. For a good overview on recent scholarship, see Andrew J. Kirkendall, “Cold War Latin America: The State of the Field,” H-Diplo Essay 119, November 14, 2014. See also Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004); Tanya Harmer, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); and Ariel Armony, Argentina, the United States, and the Anti-Communist Crusade in Central America, 1977-1984 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Centre of International Studies, 1997).

[3]. Gilbert Joseph, “Toward a New Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations,” in Close Encounters with Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations, ed. Gilbert M. Joseph and Catherine LeGrand (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), 3.

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=48095

Citation: Stella Krepp. Review of Iber, Patrick, Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America. H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews. March, 2017.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=48095

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Carmody on Weld, 'Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala' [review]

by System Administrator

Kirsten Weld. Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala. American Encounters/Global Interactions Series. Durham:    Duke University Press, 2014. xvi + 335 pp. $26.95 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-8223-7658-3; $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8223-5602-8; $99.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8223-5597-7.

Reviewed by Michelle Carmody (Leiden University)
Published on H-LatAm (March, 2017)
Commissioned by Casey M. Lurtz

Michelle Carmody on Kirsten Weld's Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala

In critical studies of archives, it has become commonplace to cite Jacques Derrida’s phrase that “there is no political power without control of the archive ... [and] effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation” (p. 16). Kirsten Weld takes this as a departure point but moves on to examine a related question, namely, what the process of (re)constructing an archive tells us about the political context in which this (re)construction is carried out. She does this by examining the creation of the Archivo Histórico de la Policia Nacional (Historical Archives of the National Police, AHPN) in Guatemala, a collection of documents taken from the police archives where they were “discovered” in a state of decay and disorder and subsequently restored, organized, and rehoused in the internationally funded AHPN. If democratization can be measured by access to the archive, Weld shows how this access came about, and how this process of opening the archive shapes the quality of democracy.

The book is organized in four parts. The first examines the immediate context of the (re)discovery of the documents and the commencement of the project to restore them and create the AHPN. The second returns to the period of repression to look at the construction of the document collection itself, as well as the development of the National Police, the institution that created the documents. Part 3 looks at the role of the construction of the AHPN in sociopolitical processes in the postwar period, focusing on the experiences of those involved in the project. And part 4 concludes the book by evaluating the impact of the completed archival recovery project on the postwar sociopolitical horizon in Guatemala and on other human rights and transitional justice initiatives locally

This is a work of ethnographic history, mixing ethnography of the project to reconstruct an archive in the years 2005-9 with archival work on the creation of the original document collection in the 1960s and 70s. The book illustrates the shifts in values and beliefs on the part of various groups involved in the reconstruction of the archive, from ex-revolutionaries to a younger generation of human rights activists and even police archivists themselves. It charts the way these actors reevaluate their memories and understandings of the revolutionary struggle and the period of state repression, at the same time as they reevaluate their understanding of relations between different groups in society in the post-authoritarian period.

This is the major contribution of Weld’s work: she shows that the synthetic process of creating the archives, reorganizing the documents from a logic of counterinsurgency to a logic of “agency and aperture” (p. 31), can be seen as a parallel for the transformation of society in the postwar period. Part 3, “Archives and Social Reconstruction in Guatemala,” explores this process. In this section, we see how the older generation of project workers struggled to work alongside the police and how the younger generation of activists within the project were confronted with things like working under a professional management structure and accepting foreign funding. Working together on a common goal—the reconstruction of the archives—allowed each of these groups to develop an understanding of each other. This is the synthesis that is produced when Cold War archives were transformed into postwar archives, a process that, she argues, is an example of bottom-up democratization and social reconstruction. Through an ethnographic account of a grassroots project, Weld shows us that transitions are created from the bottom-up, rather than top-down.

An associated argument that Weld makes is that archives and archival surveillance should be integrated into the study of the Cold War. Part 2, “Archives and Counterinsurgency in Guatemala,” looks specifically at the Cold War period and supports this argument by recounting the assistance offered by US development agencies to help the Guatemalan National Police address their poor organizational infrastructure, including their lack of attention to record keeping. In this section, she draws on the archives of the International Cooperation Administration (ICA, the predecessor of USAID) to show that the US saw record keeping as directly contributing to their ability to control subversion. She demonstrates a clear link between this goal, which necessitated a strengthening of the capacity of the security forces and the technical assistance the ICA provided in the realm of record keeping. This is a clearly substantiated and illustrated argument which calls for further consideration of the types of everyday, mundane technical development assistance that was used to wage the Cold War in Latin America and beyond. She shows us that technical assistance, including that of record keeping, functioned as an extremely effective conduit for the transfer of ideas and the reshaping of ideology through the reshaping of practice.

Weld’s purpose in conducting this ethnography was, as she eloquently puts it, “to document the process, not process the documents” (p. 23). This marks her contribution as distinct from the other studies that have emerged in recent years of recovered counterinsurgency and police archives across Latin America. These studies draw on declassified and (re)discovered materials to write new histories of the Cold War and state repression in the region. Her work goes beyond this and sits comfortably alongside Duke’s other critical and reflexive monographs on archives.[1] While most critical work on archives looks at colonial archives, Weld extends these insights into both Cold War archives and postwar archives.

With this book Weld seeks to examine the process by which Guatemalans make sense of both the physical records of the past and of their memories of that past, analyzing this process for traces of articulations about the future. Her ethnography deftly achieves this, while at the same time it demonstrates the applicability of theoretical reflections on archives to new contexts, and expands our critical understanding of the Cold War and of the postwar in Guatemala. This book is therefore recommended for researchers interested in expanding their understanding of either of these two periods—the Cold War or the postwar period—with theoretical insights that can and should be tested in other contexts.


[1]. Kathryn Burns, Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); and Antoinette Burton, ed., Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions and the Writing of History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006).

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=48085

Citation: Michelle Carmody. Review of Weld, Kirsten, Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala. H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews. March, 2017.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=48085

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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ANN: The Cold War in Latin America: Reviews of New Works

by Casey Lurtz

Continuing our series of collected reviews of new works in Latin American history, I'm happy to bring you a brief special issue on the Cold War in Latin America. As well as new reviews of Kirsten Weld's Paper Cadavers and Patrick Iber's Neither Peace nor Freedom, we have a review of the conference "Traveling Technocrats: Experts and Expertise in Latin America’s Long Cold War" held at Yale in the fall of 2016. I have also included cross-listings of roundtables put together by the H-Diplo network on other relevant works not yet reviewed for H-Latam.

New Reviews

Michelle Carmody on Kirsten Weld, Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala (2014)

Stella Krepp on Patrick Iber, Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America (2015)

Timothy W. Lorek and Andra B. Chastain on “Traveling Technocrats: Experts and Expertise in Latin America’s Long Cold War” (2016)

Relevant Roundtables from Other Networks

Thomas C. Field, Jr.  From Development to Dictatorship:  Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era (2014), roundtable from H-Diplo, March 2015

Michael E. Donoghue, Borderland on the Isthmus:  Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone (2014), roundtable from H-Diplo, April 2015

Alan McPherson, The Invaded:  How Latin Americans and their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (2014), roundtable from H-Diplo, July 2015

William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba:  The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana (2014), roundtable from H-Diplo, August 2015

Renata Keller, Mexico’s Cold War:  Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution (2015), roundtable from H-Diplo, November 2016

quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2016

Conflict Resolution in Latin America and Europe - Paulo Roberto de Almeida

My brief notes for an open discussion in an academic meeting in Rio de Janeiro, April 7, 2016 (not reviewed; not for publication)

Conflict Resolution in Latin America and Europe

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Notes for a debate in an academic workshop
Rio de Janeiro, April 7, 2016

“Each participant will have about 10 min to do an initial statement, and then the Chairs will guide the discussions. We prepared some questions that we would like to address:”

1) What are the most important challenges currently facing Latin America and Europe (migration, social inequality, corruption, terrorism, territorial disputes)?
PRA: Challenges, both in Latin America and in Europe, can be similar or very different; in most of the cases they are very different in nature, scope and dimension. Just to mention the issues selected by the organizers of this session, let us separate the relevant questions affecting, for one side, Latin America, and in the other side, Europe.
Migration, for instance, is a general phenomenon, carrying different aspects according to concrete cases. Latin America is in general as emigrant region: it sends millions of starved people toward more affluent shores, normally in North America, but also for Europe. Europe, of course, is an immigrant region, receiving millions of economic migrants, refugees from conflict zones, politically persecuted people from dictatorships and many other cases, including fake refugees. Most countries, in the Latin American region, are exporting people, due basically for economic reasons, despite some special cases derived from political conflict or civil war: Venezuela and Colombia are examples of both processes: economic migrants and political refugees; Brasil, during its high economic times, ten years ago, was receiving some economic migrants from neighboring countries, but it started again, like in the 80s, to send its brightest sons to other countries, as it is facing one of the most important structural crises in its history, both economic and political. The trend can and will accelerate, if the current recession turns into a depression, as the government seems unable to tackle the source of the crisis.
It is not in my intention to comment about migration, or immigration problems in Europe, but I am perfectly able to discuss migration, or emigration, problems in Latin America. Just to express now, in short words, my opinion about those issues in general: all cases of emigration, historically, are an evidence of a fundamental failure in some region or countries, either because of war, or economic distress; every case of immigration, in its various forms, is a symptom of success, of economic performance, of political stability, of social peace. All countries that receive immigrants, either out of a distress outwards, or out of an individual decision to look after a better life for oneself of his family, will be in a better situation in the near future, because immigrants represent one of the best inflows, in the medium time frame, in terms of human capital.
We do not have in Latin America big territorial disputes, despite some remaining cases between Bolivia and Chile, and between Venezuela and Guyana, but there is no sign that those conflicts will turn to open armed wars. We do not have, either, a terrorist problem, even if in some cases, countries in Latin America – let’s say Argentina, Colombia, Mexico – suffered from terrorist attacks, and even Brazil, in its triple frontier (with Paraguay and Argentina), can be involved in some side effects of terrorism network (money laundering, arms and drugs traffic, etc.). Europe, and marginally the United States, are, of course at the most evident victims of terrorist actions, outside Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southern Asia: it is the historically delayed effect of its past colonialism over millions of people in those region, and its current opening to human inflows coming from them. Either in Latin America, or in Europe, terrorism is a menace that should be tackled more by and with intelligence that with armed operations, but in some cases (in Libya, for instance, both “solutions” are likely).
As for social inequality and corruption, we, in Latin America, are champions in every world ranking that can be conceived to deal with those two relevant questions of political governance and economic performance. Social inequality is a prime and a top subject in social science and economic studies in the region and in the most important think tanks and international organizations dealing with social issues around the world. Either you choose rankings from the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation, such as the annual reports on Economic Freedom of the World, or the Indexes about corruption from Transparency International, you are perfectly able to rank Latin American countries, with very few exceptions (such as Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica, for instance), among the worst cases of social inequality and corruption in the world. There is no linear correlation between, for one side, income levels and or relative riches and, for the other side, the evidences arising from the high concentration of income and/or high levels of corruption. Corruption is a pervasive phenomenon, and can be found in poor and middle-income countries, as it depends much more of the role of the State and the functionality of the public institutions. Social inequality is inherent of our economic and social processes of nation building and State formation, including because State creation precedes and dominates the process of nation building.

2) How are Latin America and Europe coping with these challenges? How effective are the Latin American/European conflict resolution mechanisms/policies?
PRA: As the challenges are very different, in those two regions, both in nature and dimensions, we necessarily have very different responses in face of those issues. Letting terrorism and immigration questions aside, that are irrelevant in and for most Latin American countries, we can tackle our two most important problems, respectively corruption and social inequality.
Corruption, as already said, is a pervasive phenomenon in our countries, and of course, actually in Brazil, sometimes more evident than in other times. We are traversing one of our worst case of corruption in al times, and nobody can deny that the political mess in which we are submerged today derives from our single most important corruption case. As we also have remarked, corruption is always linked to a huge role of the State not only in the economic realm, but also in every other aspect of the social life. The State in Brazil is a comprehensive and all encompassing body, a Hobbesian persona that covers every space in the life of the country, not only in regulatory matters but also in some areas, of minor impact, that in other countries are let for individual choices of the people. In Brazil, the State pretends to be a baby sitter, telling you where and when, and to whom, you can buy as aspirin or soda drinks, or even if salt recipients can be laid down in restaurant tables. That’s our State, and many Brazilians are proud of it.
Corruption is at the core of the current impeachment dealings being dealt by the Chamber of the Representatives in the Brazilian Congress, but not only and not especially corruption; formally, the accusation is indicting the president because of responsibility crimes against the Constitution, the Fiscal Responsibility Law of 2000, and the budget legislation for the fiscal year of 2015 (even if a previous budget, 2014, was also a part of the entire piece). There are other accusations, but the indictment piece is limited to those “fiscal wrongdoings” during the current mandate. But all this is taking place in the midst of the worst, at all levels, including in the world context, case of corruption never before seen in Brazil, and probably in every other country in the region, in Europe, in the world. The government of PT, Workers’ Party, is being accused of being a mere puppet for a criminal organization, as some evidences arising from investigations by the public prosecutors have already shown.
We cannot talk about a conflict resolution process of any kind in this case of corruption in Brazil: 80% of the Brazilian population wants the dismissal of current government, and have proved its mood by huge manifestations in 2015 and now; only a minority, probably less that 10% of the population, is actually supporting the government and its hegemonic party. Curiously, if we are to consider the recent “manifests” by academic associations, including of Political Science, Historians and Defense Studies, it seems that 90% of the academic community is supporting the government and its party, or at least the boards of those associations intend to make us believe so. More curiously encore, those manifests proclaim their attachment to legality, their strict defense of democracy, their opposition to a supposed coup being conducted by the political opposition and rightist sectors of the society, and the need to preserve some vague “social rights and gains” that could be undermined by an impeachment of the president. In no one of those manifests I found references to the vast corruption scheme being revealed by the investigations, or the already dozens of entrepreneurs or politicians indicted and/or condemned in this context. It is really a shame that manifests by academic people can be so partial and one-sided. History, and the criminal process will prove them wrong.
As regards, social inequality in Latin America, I do not pretend to even tackle the subject, because I would have to deal with plenty of studies and analysis. I can refer for this matter, not to the current studies by sensible economists, but to one single work, written some 180 ago: Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville. At the start of his sociological essay, Tocqueville states that his vision of the United States was strongly impacted, since the beginning, by what he called the “equality of conditions”. Well, we are all aware that equality of conditions does not exists in Latin America, either in colonial times, or during the building up of the new independent nations, and for the rest of the times, including our times. Some progresses were made, in terms of social and educational improvements, but those were not enough to erase the profound divide between the elites (including academia) and the common people, the poor.

3) What can Latin America and Europe learn from each other?
PRA: Very few, in fact, or almost nothing. I will not deal with conflict resolution in the political domain, because there are no parallels, of any kind, between Latin America and Europe in this realm, and if each region, and each country, exhibits mechanisms for this sort of settlement of conflicts, I think that are few examples that could serve for a comparative exercise in this field. I prefer to deal with economic issues, such as macroeconomic stability, microeconomic competitiveness and sectorial policies, political governance, quality of human capital, and economic opening to trade and foreign investments.
There are no models or receipts for any aspect of political governance, or economic policies, for any country or region. And, even if there were such models, they cannot be transferred or even adapted in other contexts and for other polities. Of courses, we do have some things that we could call “lessons of History”, or we do have nowadays some stuff matters in terms of political and economic governance that are being synthetized by such organizations as OECD and the Bretton Woods institutions, entities that are at the core of contemporary globalization.
If we could try to abridge some prerequisites for a sustained process of economic growth, which is a fundamental condition for social and economic development, with structural transformation and the distribution of its benefits for the population as a whole, perhaps we should indicate some areas of crucial relevance for both economic and political governance, some features that could help to guide the evaluation of the quality of public policies, in each region, that could be able to increase growth (and riches and incomes), reduce the levels of social inequality, and also reduce levels of corruption.
Here are my suggestions, in the fields already summarized above:

(A) Macroeconomic stability: which means, precisely, fiscal responsibility, domestic accounts in order, interest rates in accordance with economic fundamentals (that is, more market based than government fixed), exchange regime also in line with market equilibrium (that is, floating rates, with minimum intervention by Central Banks), and other main features of macroeconomic policies.
Where Latin America and Europe remain, as regards those mains indicators of a “good” macroeconomic performance? Well, Europe, more specifically European Union, has been much more responsible than Latin American countries in those macroeconomic guidelines. Despite some deviants – let’s not name the Mediterranean countries that acted in a irresponsible way in the last few years – most of the countries pertaining to the Euro areas, and many outside this currency zone, performed reasonably well, preserving the economic fundamentals under acceptable conditions. Growth was not formidable, but at acceptable levels, and, more relevant, stability was preserved.
What we could say, in this matter, about Latin America? Well, I can talk about Brazil, during my own generation, that is, young generation during the 1960s, and old people nowadays. Which other country do you know that have changed SEVEN times its currency in a single generation, with a three zeros cut in almost occasions (less once, but last time, much more than three zeros, exactly 2.750 times)? If I disregard the change from the old Portuguese currency, the Mil-Reis to the Cruzeiro, in 1942, here are the currencies that I have had to use since 1967: from Cruzeiro to New Cruzeiro (with a 3 zeros slash), the Cruzado in 1986 (again 3 zeros cut), the New Cruzado in 1988 (new hair cut, because of a accelerating inflation), return to the Cruzeiro in 1990 (without a new cut), the introduction of the Cruzeiro Real in 1993 (again slashing 3 zeros), and finally the Real in 1994, starting with an indexed currency (like the Schacht plan with the new Reich mark in 1923) called the URV, Real Unity of Value, valued at 1:1 against the dollar, and exchanged for the Real after a cut of 2.750 points in July 1994. So, we have had, in Brazil, 8 (EIGHT) currencies in the last two or three generations, against the background of an inflation impossible to evaluate in normal numbers, because it goes to astronomical digits, more than a quadrillion percent from 1986 to 1994. Already the Real, our only currency in the last 22 years, has probably accumulated an inflation of 400%, which is accelerating in the last ten years. Let’s go forward.

(B) Microeconomic competition: It’s very well know that we, in Latin America, especially in Brazil, we live by state monopolies, sectorial cartels, restricted public utilities in the hands of decades-old big companies living in promiscuity with the people who are responsible for those concessions by the Government. Why, if this were otherwise, we like to call some happy few people “kings” of something? King of Soya, king of Meat, king of Cement, king of Steel, king of Telecommunications, and so on. Who are, in fact, those Kings of this or that sector? May be are they brilliant capitalists, exceptional farmers, especially bright people who are able to thrive in a very competitive environment, open to all, and conquering large tracks of the market by their own capacity and spectacular managerial skills? More probably, they are the same old capitalists and bankers who, since the Renaissance (according to Fernand Braudel), engage in the same kind of conspiratorial parlance, against the consumers, that Adam Smith immortalized in unforgettable passages of his Wealth of Nations. Brazil is a typical case of this nature: we have plenty of kings of any sort, some old families controlling entire sectors of the economy, and new barons of emerging sectors in the telecommunications or else, as well as, of course, the inevitable bankers, who support and finance any type of politicians.
There are plenty of examples of this kind of situation in Latin America: if we consult any annual report about competitiveness, by the World Economic Forum, for instance, or some studies by the World Bank about economic concentration in Latin America, especially in Brazil, we would verify the extreme high levels of vertical integration in many sectors, and the important role by the State for this configuration. If you want to learn a little more about the economic concentration and anti-competition practices in the Brazilian business, a feature established totally in line with governmental lines of action, with a particular strength in the last ten years, I would suggest that you read the book by Aldo Musacchio and Sergio Lazzarini, Reinventing State Capitalism: Leviathan in Business, Brazil and Beyond (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014).
There are much more examples, in Latin American, of this special detrimental characteristic of our capitalism. For instance, the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim, of the telecommunications sector in Mexico, and in many other countries, including in Brazil and in Europe. So I stop here about microeconomic competitiveness.

(C) Good governance: Well, there are few parallels that could be put in line in order to allow us to establish analytical comparisons between Europe and Latin America in terms of governance, or perhaps if not by recovering old historical records about the extreme centralization of the Iberian kingdoms, the traditional patrimonialism that was transplanted to the colonies of the New World, and also, stretching a little more the historical record, some specific characteristics of the European ancient Régime, in what it can offer examples of the Absolutist State and even some despotic tyrants. We could start by the simple record, of high historical significance, that Latin America has not had any such thing comparable with the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights and equivalent instruments very well known in the European history (and in some of its off-shots). Latin American started as an independent region, free from the old European colonialism, at the same time that democratic revolutions were undertaken in Europe and North America, which were brought together, by some historians, under the concept of Atlantic democratic revolutions.
Perhaps there are few parallels, historical or other, between the two regions, but there are many lessons that Latin America could and can learn from Europe in terms of governance, political or economic. After having beheaded some kings, dethroned others, during the ancient Régime, and engaged in democratic revolutions all-over the 19th century, Europe still continued to produce the worst political experiments at least during the first half of the last 100 years, including bolshevism, fascism, Nazism and some other minor genocidal initiatives. Some totalitarian theories produced in Europe during that period also expanded to other continents, like Maoism in Asia, and variants of Stalinism in North Korea and other countries. It seems that Europe, exhausted, has been vaccinated against outbursts of political cholera such as those described above.
At least, the principles of constitutionalism, rule of Law, political representation, Human Rights, and above all democratic values, all invented or developed in Europe, expanded to other continents, including Latin America. Those features and elements of a normal good governance were brought to, or were imported by many countries in Latin America, countries that, with other counterparts in Southern Europe – Greece, Spain, Portugal – surmounted, around the 1980s, the heavy heritage of previous dictatorships and authoritarian regimes in both sides of the Atlantic. Countries like Argentina and Brazil accomplished some kind of transition from military regimes of the 60s and the 70s, to start new constitutional and political arrangements in the 80s, which included projects of economic integration, a somewhat political deterrent against new falls into authoritarian regimes (as we have saw in the case of Paraguay, and the subsequent democratic clause of Mercosur’s Ushuaia Protocol).
But, at the same time, the ancien Régime-like political constituencies in some countries, with all its side-effects in terms of corrupt governments and the structural features of the eternal social inequalities, produced some less desirable consequences, such as the return of populism in countries already characterized by huge differences between rich and poor people (Andean countries, for the most, but even in Brasil and Argentina). Bad economic governance in many countries of the region, and the poor quality of the new democratic institutions as well as fragile systems for accounting and control of the public finance in almost every country combined with external shocks, or underperformance in the global economy, to precipitate crises of political or economic nature. Immediate or delayed effects of all this mess in the political and economic realms sprayed with less or more virulence in most of the Latin American countries, at simultaneous or various periods of the last four decades (since the 80s): high inflation rates, even hyperinflation in many countries (Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru), change of currencies, wage and price freezes (non sustained and unsustainable in every country), capital flight, extensive (and inefficient) controls in transaction and capital accounts, successive emergency agreements with the IMF, Paris Club or private and official creditors, black markets, shortages in domestic supply, disinvestment of national and foreign entrepreneurs, trade protectionism and distorted sectorial policies, rupture with global markets, and the list is not complete.
Of course, not all countries underwent the whole array of truly schizophrenic measures at the same time or went through the disaster scenario to the point of political breakdown, but some were more unhappy than others. Venezuela, for instance, seems to be one of the unhappiest country of Latin America, despite the fact that, due to huge oil resources, it exhibited, historically, one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Rent-seeking behavior of its corrupt political parties created the whole set of conditions for political upheaval and a tentative coup d’État (a Leninist fashioned attempt) in 1992, by a young colonel, Hugo Chávez, who succeeded in becoming elected president at the end of that decade. Despite being considered a “progressive” or leftist leader by many in the academia, in the political spectrum and by its personal behavior Chávez (dead in 2013) was much more alike an European predecessor, Mussolini, and many of his devices for controlling elections, suppressing political adversaries and bailing the press were directly inspired by Hitler comparable expediencies (without concentration camps) during the 1930s. Some other countries took the new “Bolivarian” model as a new way to monopolize political power without resorting to open dictatorships, by manipulation of some old populist tools: distributive policies, “purchase” of a complacent media, and what the Italians call the lotizzazione of the State apparatus, including Supreme courts.
Argentina, after many decades of a continuous political decay, is trying to overcome its “contagious disease” since the Second World War, Peronism, with its many wings, including a whole set of mafia-like trade-unions. In Brazil, finally, the traditional patrimonialism of the old elites gave way of a new kind of a gangster-like patrimonialism, as revealed in the judicial investigations about the criminal practices of the PT against State companies, such as Petrobras, and all other public agencies. The (poor) democratic system is being tested at this very moment by an impeachment process that could top the inept and corrupt government by institutional means.

(D) Human capital of good quality: This is the most suitable lesson that Europe could afford to teach to all Latin American countries, but even here is not easy to see how to transplant and transform very different educational systems, in all three levels of learning, taking into account heteroclite social and administrative structures (and its various kinds of combination State-private supply of education). What is a fact is that Latin America reached an acceptable compulsory first level education enrollment rate many decades after European societies achieved an almost complete universal literacy. Nevertheless, the backwardness in terms of quality of this learning is appalling, as the PISA (mid-level exams in language, science and mathematics) results reveal. This poor quality of the education affects, of course, the productivity gains in the productive sector, but, much more important, the high levels of inequality in income distribution.
Most of the European societies, less than in the United States, but at impressive levels also, are already engaged in a knowledge-society, which constitute another field that could offer opportunities for Latin American countries in bilateral or plurilateral cooperation with Europe. I personally think that is the most promising possibility for the intensification of all kinds of scientific and educational cooperation between the two regions. But the scenario is already changing: during the recent decades, Chinese investors seem to be overcoming the massive inflow of European FDI that was the most important aspect of the European presence in Latin America historically.

(E) Opening to trade flows and foreign direct investments: That is the last and perhaps most important mark of the advanced countries in the world, and of the rapid emerging economies in the developing world: there is an almost perfect correlation between the high income and socially advanced countries and their indexes of economic opening, that is, the coefficient of external trade and a less restrictive framework for foreign direct investment. Latin American countries have been somewhat introverted since the inter-war crises, and engaged, after the Second World War, in a series of experiments of import substitution, subsidies to national industries, and a clear protectionist commercial policy (high tariffs or complete prohibition of imports, with a set of mercantilist-like trade patterns). Besides a much more responsible behavior in fiscal matters, Asian countries (especially in the Pacific basin) were much more open than Latin American ones in terms of external trade and inflows of FDI, even if some of those countries also practiced industrial policies with State-led measures in order to strengthen national champions in the manufacturing sector. But it is also clear that those countries were much more enlightened than Latin American counterparts in terms of mass education and huge private and official investments in science and technology.
If we look at Latin America today there seems to be three very distinct groups of countries, in terms of their integration into the global economy:
(a) A small bunch of globalizers, starting by Mexico and Chile, which were joined more recently by Peru and Colombia; they created the Pacific Alliance, which is less a Latin integration bloc, that is, dedicated to reciprocal trade, than a coordination group to insert themselves in the vast experiment of constitution of an economic integrated space in that basin, which can overcome the last five centuries of world economic dominance by North Atlantic countries in terms of trade, finances, technology and knowledge-based production networks;
(b) At the other extreme, the so-called Bolivarian countries, with the old mix of populist and Statist policies, who are refusing globalization and putting again the central government at the heart of the decision making system, distancing themselves from the market based democratic systems that form the core of the public policies in vigor in the most advanced societies in the world (that is, the OECD club, which has already accepted Mexico, Chile, and many ex-socialist countries);
(c) In the middle, the “reticent” countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, and some other small societies (Paraguay and Uruguay, for instance), where there is no clear definition or choice for either an old “developmentalist” way – with all the retrocession to dirigiste and interventionist policies – or a more open-minded orientation, both in domestic economic policies and with a closer interaction with developed and market-led economies. Due to more than half century-long introverted policies, industrialists and bureaucrats are somewhat reticent to led an unrestricted opening of the economy and a full insertion into a global economy. More than a change in the political leadership of these two countries, what they really need in a mental revolution, which comprises also the so-called “intellectual class”, in fact a large bunch of Gramscian academicians, who have a very heavy influence over the public opinion and the whole educational system.

4) How can civil society and academia contribute to conflict prevention in the region?
PRA: Very briefly, the role of civil society is indeed important in many ways, but the modes of intervention, especially of academia, are too much diverse, depending on the issues that could be involved, and on which kind of civil society and academia we are talking in connection to concrete solutions, or conflict prevention. What are the most important problems in Latin America, historically and event today?
Poverty is still a problem, of course, but also poor education, which is at the basis of the poverty and the high unequal income distribution. Land concentration was the most significant indicator of those social differences, but today less than in the past. The old oligarchs were replaced, in the age of urbanization and mass democratization, by a “bureaucratic estate” that constitute the new patrimonialism: magistrates, high officials, even the academia, and especially the political class, who became a class in itself, with rent-seeking behavior and self-centered.
The State has grow much more than it is needed, and it extracts and absorbs a huge fraction of the riches created by workers and entrepreneurs of the private sector, and create, by its own macroeconomic and sectorial measures, distributive conflicts because of the contradictory policies the political class implement from the Executive and the Legislative bodies. In fact, State policies preserve, maintain and increase poverty, by pushing inflationary decisions, a too protective domestic supply, a clear preference for the higher levels of education strata, the litterati (who grab a much larger fraction of the budget that the millions at the primary levels of education), and a political system serving all these “corporations” linked to the State.
Drug trafficking, drug consumption, widespread violence are the most common problems in most of the Latin American countries, and there are no clear signs that the academia is engaged in thinking about adequate diagnostics for those acute fleas or is seriously engaged in finding solutions. Many in academia are in fact proposing decriminalization or liberation of drugs, any kind of them, and still consider urban delinquency as a mere consequence of poverty and inequality, adopting a “victimist” approach to this question that tend to put the blame on the society, not on individuals.

5) How have Latin American countries and regional organizations responded to major international crisis such as Syria?
PRA: Really, being a diplomat, I do not see a clear role for Latin American countries in such a major crisis as Syria’s. We can at most have a secondary or an auxiliary role, in terms of UNO resolutions, and humanitarian relief. Brazil is admitting a certain number of Syrian families, because of a large historical community of the same stock, immigrants from a century ago, or less. Besides that, I do not see any relevant support from the Latin American region as a whole for a comprehensive solution to this terrible war. Middle East, as a region, is the most intractable situation in the whole world, and a global solution to its social, economic, political and geopolitical problems is not in sight in the near or the middle-range future.

6) How can they contribute to conflict resolution and peace-building at the international level?
PRA: Not originally, I would just recommend a little more home work, at its best: first of all, we have to overcome the “menaces” to world peace arising inside the region. What are they?
Emigration of its own people, first of all, I mean of the economic type. Exporting poor people can be an individual solution, but it is also a clear sign of failure to solve the most important problems in a society: education and employment opportunities. Latin America has to improve hugely its educational and economic (macro and micro) policies. Connected to that, put a clear end to populism, which of course is linked to the electoral and party systems, but those initiatives depend on a mentality change. Here, the academia could help, if it was not so self-centered.
Urban violence, and the residual guerrilla warfare in some countries (Colombia, of course, but also Peru, and some Central America countries), huge problems that are clear linked to drug production and trafficking, with enormous consequences even in transit countries, obviously already in Mexico, but also a growing problem in Brazil.
Corruption is also a local, national, and a continental problem, that has many international connections and consequences. Those are the most important problems, which Latin America is “exporting” to the rest of the world.
Solving those huge problems, by its own means, could be a positive contribution of the region for the world. Becoming “normal” countries – in economic policies, in education performance, in employment opportunities – could be the most relevant help the Latin American countries can offer to the world. Do not be a problem, be a solution.
It is simple, it is naïf, but it is needed. The world, the UNO, or the Middle East crises, for instance, are not waiting for a Latin America huge help in any kind of geopolitical or economic support for the most urgent and pressing problems in the current juncture. Not being a problem is already a big help. Let’s do it…

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Brasília, 7 de abril de 2016.

quinta-feira, 16 de julho de 2015

Latin American development trends and Brazil’s role in the region - Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Mais recente artigo publicado:

1181. “Latin American development trends and Brazil’s role in the region”, revista Paiaguás: revista de estudos sobre a Amazônia e Pacífico (UFMS; vol. I, n. 1, 2015; link para a revista: http://seer.ufms.br/index.php/revpaiaguas; link para o artigo: http://seer.ufms.br/index.php/revpaiaguas/article/view/997; em pdf: http://seer.ufms.br/index.php/revpaiaguas/article/view/997/606). Relação de Originais n. 2830.

Latin American development trends and Brazil’s role in the region

Paulo Roberto de Almeida


Analytical essay dealing with Latin American integration process, its peculiarities and  the recent development trends in the region. Instead of deepening its integration process, Latin America is experiencing a clear fragmentation path, with many divergences among leading countries in the domains of economic policies and the integration processes, notwithstanding the fact that new instances were created for that objective (Unasur, Celac). The essay also examines Brazil’s economic and political role in the region, and concludes by an assessment of current trends (comparing the region with Asia Pacific) and advance prospects for divergent trends in Latin America.

quinta-feira, 25 de dezembro de 2014

Convergencia global: a erratica marcha da America Latina na economia mundial

From Brookings Intstitution

Something extraordinary is happening in emerging economies—or is it? Ernesto Talvi says these four charts help answer that question. If you want to dig deeper into economic growth, convergence, and income distribution around the globe, explore this country-by-country examination released during November’s G-20 summit.

Four Charts Explaining Latin America’s Decade of Development-less Growth

A woman walks on a street in central Havana early January 10, 2008. Cuba, a one-party state, will hold elections on January 20, 2008, to elect the 614-seat National Assembly or legislature. Editor’s Note: In the report “Think Tank 20: Growth, Convergence and Income Distribution: The Road from the Brisbane G-20 Summit” experts from Brookings and around the world address interrelated debates about growth, convergence and income distribution, three key elements that are likely to shape policy debates beyond the ninth G-20 summit that was held on November 15-16 in Brisbane, Australia. The content of this blog is based on the chapter on Latin America. Read the full brief on Latin America's growth trends here.
A figure says a thousand words. And, looking at Figure 1, which shows the population-weighted average income per capita in emerging economies relative to the U.S., there could be no doubt in anybody’s mind that since the late 1990s something rather extraordinary happened—a phenomenon with no antecedents in the post-WWII period—that propelled emerging economies into an exponential process of convergence.
Needless to say, this phenomenon had enormous consequences for the welfare of millions of citizens in emerging economies. It lifted more than 500 million people out from poverty and extreme poverty, and gave rise to the so-called emerging middle class that grew at a rate of 150 million per year.

So, it seems that something rather extraordinary happened in emerging economies. Or did it? Let’s look again. When China and India are removed from the emerging markets sample, Figure 1 becomes Figure 2a.
In Figure 2a, one can still discern a period of convergence starting in the late 1990s. But convergence here was not nearly as strong—relative income is still far below its previous heights—and it occurred after a period of divergence that started in the mid-1970s after the first oil shock, in the early 1980s with the debt crisis, and in the late 1980s with post-Berlin Wall meltdown in Eastern European economies.
This pattern is actually characteristic of every emerging region including Latin America (see Figure 2b). Only Asia differs markedly from this pattern—with China and India displaying exponential convergence since the late 1990s, while the rest of emerging Asia experienced a sustained but much slower convergence since the mid-1960s. 

From a Latin American perspective, the relevant question we need to ask is whether the recent bout of convergence that started in 2004 after a quarter of a century of relative income decline is a break with the past or just a short-lived phenomenon?
In order to address this question from a Latin American perspective, we study the arithmetic of convergence (i.e., whether mechanical projections are consistent with the convergence hypothesis) and the economics of convergence (i.e., whether income convergence was associated with a comparable convergence in the drivers of growth).
According to our definition of convergence,[1] since 1950, growth-convergence-development miracles represent a tiny fraction of emerging countries. Only five countries managed to achieve this: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In other words, convergence towards income per capita levels of rich countries is an extremely rare event.
But where does Latin America stand? Based on growth projections for the period 2014-2018, not a single Latin American country will converge to two-thirds of U.S. income per capita in two generations. Unfortunately, the arithmetic does not seem to be on the side of the region.
What about the economics? To answer this question, we analyze whether Latin America’s process of income convergence in the last decade was also associated with a similar convergence in the key drivers of growth: trade integration, physical and technological infrastructure, human capital, innovation, and the quality of public services. Figure 3 illustrates the results.
In contrast to relative income, during the last decade, LAC-7 [2] countries failed to converge towards advanced country levels in every growth driver. The overall index of growth drivers—the simple average of the five sub-indexes—remained unchanged in the last decade relative to the equivalent index for advanced economies. By and large, the latter holds true for every LAC-7 country with exceptions like Colombia (the only country that improved in every single growth driver in the last decade) and Chile (the country in the region where the levels of growth drivers are closer to those of advanced economies). 

Latin America had a decade of uninterrupted high growth rates—with the sole exception of 2009 in the aftermath of the Lehman crisis—that put an end to a quarter of a century of relative decline in income per capita levels vis-à-vis advanced economies. However, high growth and income convergence were largely the result of an unusually favorable external environment, rather than the result of convergence to advanced-country levels in the key drivers of growth. Fundamentally, the last was a decade of “development-less growth” in Latin America.
With the extremely favorable external conditions already behind us, the region is expected to grow at mediocre rates of around 2 percent in per capita terms for the foreseeable future. With this level of growth, the dream of convergence and development is unlikely to be realized any time soon.
To avoid such a fate the region must make a renewed effort of economic transformation. Although the challenges ahead appear to be huge, there is plenty of room for optimism. First, Latin America has built a sound platform to launch a process of development. Democracy has by-and-large consolidated across the region, and an entire generation has now grown up to see an election as the only legitimate way to select national leaders. Moreover, it is for the most part a relatively stable region with no armed conflicts and few insurgency movements threatening the authority of the state. Second, a sizeable group of major countries in Latin America have a long track record of sound macroeconomic performance by now. Third, the region could be just steps away from major economic integration. Most Latin American countries in the Pacific Coast have bilateral free trade agreements with their North American neighbors (11 countries with the U.S. and seven countries with Canada). Were these countries to harmonize current bilateral trade agreements among themselves—in the way Pacific Alliance members have been doing—a huge economic space would be born: a Trans-American Partnership that would comprise 620 million consumers, and have a combined GDP of more than $22 trillion (larger than the EU’s, and more than double that of China). Were such a partnership on the Pacific side of the Americas to gain traction, it could eventually be extended to Atlantic partners, in particular Brazil and other Mercosur countries.
In the last quarter of a century democracy, sound macroeconomic management and an outward-looking development strategy made substantial strides in the region. If these conquests are consolidated and the same kind of progress is achieved in key development drivers in the next 25 years, many countries in the region could be on the road to convergence.

[1] We define convergence as a process whereby a country’s income per capita starts at or below one-third of U.S. income per capita at any point in time since 1950, and rises to or above two-thirds of U.S. income per capita.
[2] LAC-7 is the simple average of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela, which account for 93 percent of Latin America’s GDP.
Ernesto Talvi is a nonresident senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program.  He also serves as the director of the Brookings Global-CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative, as Academic Director of CERES in Montevideo, Uruguay, and as a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York. His work focuses on emerging markets macroeconomics with special emphasis on Latin America, stabilization programs, fiscal policy, capital flows and financial crises.