Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category
If Ollanta Humala wins a run-off vote in June, he could align Peru with Latin America’s political left.
Greg Grandi, Al Jazeera, April 15, 2011
Last week, in Peru’s presidential election, Ollanta Humala, a 48-year old former military officer, pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory.
Beating his four main rivals with over 30 per cent of the vote, Humala, who has called for a fairer distribution of Peru’s enviable economic growth, scares Washington and Wall Street.
Peruvians have committed “political suicide”, declared a former US ambassador to the country following the vote.
Equally unnerved is Peru’s Noble Laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa, who often uses his considerable descriptive talents to render in subtle hues the anxieties of Lima’s upper-class whites.
Since Humala didn’t get 50 per cent of the vote, he will face Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, in a June run off – a choice Vargas Llosa describes as akin to one between “AIDS and terminal cancer”.
Many Peruvians, though, have worse fates in store for them than those two diseases. Despite Peru’s impressive macroeconomic performance, including low inflation, over the last decade, well over thirty per cent of Peru’s thirty million people live in poverty, and eight per cent in extreme poverty.
In the countryside, particularly the indigenous countryside, more than half of all families are poor, many desperately so.
Central areas in Lima, the capital, are booming. Profits skimmed off the high price of precious metals – silver, zinc, copper, tin, lead, and gold make up sixty per cent of the country’s exports and finance the rise of luxury condos and malls.
But the city is also sprawling outward. Mining and other high-capital, low-labour export industries – among them, logging, petroleum, natural gas, and biofuels plantations – are ripping up the Andean highlands and Amazonian lowlands, throwing a steady number of families into Lima, where they add block after block to its perimeter.
Terminal cancer might be a concern among Vargas Llosa’s condo constituency, but these economic refugees, particularly their children, are more likely to suffer shantytown diseases, including malnutrition, protein deficiency, dysentery, and drug-resistant tuberculosis. Peru ranks 23rd out of 26th in Latin America for access to waste treatment.
While all the other candidates offer variations on a theme of “more of the same”, Humala promises mild reform. He pledges to improve health care for the poor and implement a means-tested pension plan for the elderly.
To pay for it, he said he will raise the taxes on mineral exports. This is hardly a radical program, but those who have grown fat off of Peru’s unsustainable model of economic development view it as catastrophic.
News of Humala’s first-round victory sent Peru’s currency and bond prices sharply down. Opinion and policy makers in Lima and the US rushed to their keyboards to warn of “class warfare”, as did the former US ambassador cited above.
The “outcome”, he said, “could not have been worse”. There is a saying in Latin America to describe the hysteria that overcomes elites when they hear someone suggesting a more equitable distribution of wealth: “when they sit down to dinner, they see Hugo Chavez in their soup.”
Can Humala win in June? According to The Economist, polls taken before last week’s election found that “more than 77 per cent of voters expressing an opinion wanted to modify the country’s development model”. And 37 per cent wanted radical change.
Jonathan Glennie, The Nation, April 6, 2011
The idea that a successful model for development in one country could sensibly become a blueprint for another is now unfashionable – but important lessons can still be learned by examining other nations’ development paths.
One region is routinely overlooked in international development discussions that tend to contrast Asian success with African stagnation: Latin America.
Life expectancy has risen from 56 in 1960 to 73 today, and primary school completion rates are hovering at near 100%.
But the past decade has been the most dramatic for Latin America as the New Left governments – such as those led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Cristina and Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and, of course, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela – have swept to power.
After the years of austerity in the 1980s and 1990s, during which income poverty levels increased or stagnated, sustained growth in the past decade accompanied significant poverty reduction. Some 13% of Latin Americans lived in absolute poverty in 1980, and that figure was still 11% in 2002. But just three years later that figure had dropped to 8%, according to the World Bank.
Latin American countries are emerging from the global financial meltdown in good shape, in part because of their apparent familiarity with the rules of counter-cyclical spending, which depends on storing up money in the good times, and in part because their financial sector was less liberalised than in the west.
AP, March 30, 2011
The world’s biggest economies are recovering from the Great Recession at troublesome speeds: too fast or too slow.
China, India and other major developing countries quickly returned to breakneck rates of growth after escaping the worst of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Their rapid recoveries showed for the first time that emerging economies have grown big and strong enough to thrive independently while the United States and other rich countries struggle.
And today, to an unprecedented degree, the developing world is driving the global recovery, instead of relying on the United States for economic leadership as it used to. This picture emerges from The Associated Press’ new Global Economy Tracker, a quarterly analysis of 22 countries that account for more than 80 percent of the world’s economic output.
The shakeup in the world’s economic order has taken 30 years. The developing world’s share of global economic output has risen from 18 percent in 1980 to 26 percent last year, the World Bank says. So growth in emerging markets now has a far bigger effect on the world’s economic performance.
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Wins Journalism Award for “Giving People Without a Voice Access to the Airwaves”
AP, March 29, 2011
Hugo Chavez is getting a journalism award in Argentina.
The Venezuelan leader regularly clashes with critical media, but the University of La Plata is giving him its Rodolfo Walsh Prize on Tuesday for what it describes as his work giving people without a voice access to the airwaves and newspapers.
Chavez’s government has bankrolled the growth of the Telesur network, providing a state-funded alternative to privately financed broadcast stations across Latin America.
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