Is Latin America a region condemned to poverty and inequality? Condemned by whom? Is there any chance to counter this historical situation?
We can define poverty as a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials to enjoy a minimum standard of life and well-being that’s considered acceptable in society.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) found that the poverty in Latin America increased by 29.2% (175 million people) and the indigence rate to 12.4% (75 million people) in 2015
According to data provided by the World Bank, the ranking of the 10 poorest countries in Latin America is as follows:
The scarcity in Latin America is multidimensional, as it affects the five basic dimensions, which are housing, basic services, health, education and recreation.
But why is there such a big economical difference between Anglo-Saxon America and Latin America? Well, to answer this question we have to go back to the years of colonization. North America was colonized by people who wanted to change their life, it was people who crossed the ocean looking for opportunities. Instead, Latin America was a land which suffered the looting of its resources to serve the European needs.
During the industrial revolution Europe developed the machines but Latin america provided the raw material and this situation hasn’t changed. Latin America is not an industrialized continent. Most of the companies are foreign and of course the profits do not stay here, they go abroad. This fact is one of the main reasons of the poverty in Latin America.
The implementation of structural adjustment policies imposed by multilateral lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, aims to reduce inflation and increase production. For that, it is necessary that the State spends less and, in addition, that it gives more benefits to the companies. These policies have in many cases been successful, mainly in terms of reducing inflation, but the opposite has been the increase in unemployment and the number of poor in most countries.
Also the large estates are concentrated in a few hands, while the small territories are distributed among many owners, which produces tensions and clashes and prevents a correct modernization of the agricultural sector. The countries show a marked concentration of wealth in few families. On the other hand, millions of people live in conditions of extreme poverty.
On employment, workers’ wages are often low, with job insecurity. In addition, there are differences in finding work among people of different sex, age, area, ethnicity and race.
Another reason of the poverty is the corruption of the governments that unfortunately has become very common. Lately has been changes in the society and Latin-Americans have realized how serious this problem is. For example, the corrupt government of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina finished in 2015 when the citizens voted the contrary political party and now she has been recently imputed in a trial and a fortune from corrupt business has been taken from her.
All these events have important consequences for the continent as Violence, low life expectancy, malnutrition, illiteracy, overcrowding, underemployment and marginalization
In order to end hunger and famine, several United Nations organizations are working in these territories, including UNICEF (Children), FAO (Food and Agriculture) and UNDP (Development). From ECLAC, governments are urged to work together and in solidarity, so that with sufficient funding, policies can be allocated to reduce underdevelopment.
In conclusion, I believe that Investments in health, education and infrastructure should be increased and applied correctly in both urban and rural areas. Social support is also important for a better job placement and decent wages, especially for the most disadvantaged sectors, such as women. One of the best tools to counter poverty is education because is the only thing that insure you a work life. Also, an educated society can’t be cheated by the corrupts. Once my mum said to me: The government wants you to be ignorant, the church submissive, the businessmen crouched, the banks molten. So when i ask you to study is because i want you to be free. Knowledge is your best weapon.