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Alvaro Uribe Who is the President of Colombia?
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela Which current South American President was jailed in the early 1990s for leading a coup against the government?
What is significant about Manta, Ecuador? It’s has been a forward operating location in the war against drugs
What year did the United States give control of the Panama Canal to Panama? 2000
Which country in Central America has the highest standard of living? Costa Rica
Why care about Latin America? • It’s our closest neighbor to the south • It’s one of our biggest trading partners and a huge market for US goods • Many Americans have ethnic roots in Latin America • Every nation but one is a democracy • … And YOU could find yourself serving there in the future!
Overview • Background Video • Geography • People, Culture, and Religion • Poverty in Latin America • Crime and Violence • Political Environment • U.S. Interests
Geography • 33 states in the region • Vast amounts of territory with diverse climate • Much of region unsettled as majority of population lives within 100 miles of the coast, concentrated in urban areas • Large cities grossly overpopulated • Poses huge challenge to governments due to: crime, poverty, unemployment, and lack of/poor infrastructure
Two of the world’s largest cities located in Latin America: Mexico City, Mexico (27 mil) and Sao Paulo, Brazil (23 mil)
People, Culture, and Religion • People • Diverse population, much of whom can trace roots to Europe and Africa • Prior to colonial period, indigenous groups had built vast and advanced empires throughout region • Aztecs and Mayans in Mexico • Incas in western South America • Between 25-100 million indigenous people lived in Latin America when Spanish arrived in the fifteenth century
People, Culture, and Religion • People • From fifteenth century on, divided into areas of Spanish, Portuguese, British, and French control • When indigenous population began dying off, slaves were brought from Africa • Caste system established, but Europeans and Native Americans intermingled, forming a large mestizo population • Immigration continues and we’ve seen a large increase in Asian immigrants
People, Culture, and Religion • Ethnic Diversity * SCIS, 1996 figures
People, Culture, and Religion • Culture • Blending of many distinct cultures affected Latin American society, i.e. music, dance, language, and religion • Language: Spanish is predominant, but you’ll also hear Portuguese, French, indigenous (i.e. Quechua), and Italian • Similarly, dances influenced by African culture (i.e., the rumba, mambo, and salsa)
People, Culture, and Religion • Characteristics of Latin Americans • Machismo • Marianismo • Family • Attitude towards work, leisure, and time Note: We’re not trying to stereotype Latin Americans, but we are trying to help students understand common, general characteristics of foreign cultures.
People, Culture, and Religion • Religion • Prevailing religion is Roman Catholicism, with 90+% of Latin Americans professing this faith • Catholic church influences nearly all aspects of Latin American life (i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe) • Great mosaic of other faiths, with Islam being one of the fastest growing in region Our Lady of Guadalupe
Poverty in Latin America • Regional Economy • Overall, the economy has improved, although significant issues of inequalities and social exclusion • GDP growth above 4% annually since 2004 • Inflation fell to single digits 8% in 2008 • Marginally lower unemployment • Increase in foreign investments • But while the region as a whole is improving, some countries’ economies have worsened
Poverty in Latin America • Latin America is one of the most unequal and impoverished regions of the world • Nearly 1 in 4 lives on less than $2 daily • 44% of the region’s 515 million inhabitants live in poverty • 18.6% of total population classified as extremely poor • Rural population even more profoundly affected as almost 55% are poor and nearly 33% are classified as extremely poor • Poverty rates double those of Middle East!
Poverty in Latin America • High economic disparities • The richest 10% in region earned 48% of the total income, while the poorest 10% earned less than 2% (2003) • Brazil: The poorest 40% of landowners possess only 1% of the country’s arable land, and nearly 4.6 mil peasants own no land • Social inequality largely based on race and ethnic background • Brazil: People of African descent earn only 45% of the wages of their white counterparts
Poverty in Latin America • Root causes • Historic disadvantage in global economy • Industrialization discouraged or banned during colonial period • Rural underdevelopment • Government failures or instability • Lack of infrastructure • Ethnic discrimination While economic growth is necessary for poverty reduction, poverty is hindering this much needed regional growth. (World Bank)
Poverty in Latin America • Why should the United States care? • Affects American economy by reducing trade • Exacerbates issue of illegal immigration • Contributes to flow of illegal drugs into USA As long as the crushing poverty exists, people will resort to whatever means are necessary to survive, including producing illegal drugs.
Crime and Violence • Region leads the world in most crime and violence categories • Homicide rate three times the average for the rest of the world • Accounts for 75% of the world’s kidnappings • Brazil has three times murder rate of USA Crime and Violence: Lynching, murder, assault, and kidnapping are all on the rise, especially in El Salvador and Guatemala, which are listed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) among the five most violent countries in the world.
Crime and Violence • Crime closely linked with gang violence • Some of the most violent gangs in the Western Hemisphere operate in Central America and Mexico • 60% of all homicides in El Salvador gang related (2004) • U.S. Southern Command estimates there are 70,000 gang members operating in region Crime and Violence:
Crime and Violence • Latin America’s decrepit democracies are easy prey • Court systems barely function in most countries • Police are often corrupt and uncooperative • Politicians easily bribed • Paramilitary positions perceived as opportunities for self enrichment
Crime and Violence • “Latin America’s per capita GDP would be 25% higher if the region’s crime rate were equal to the world’s average.” • “Business associations in the region identified crime as the number one issue negatively affecting trade and investment in Latin America.” ~ Adolfo Franco, Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Crime and Violence • What’s causing the high crime rates? • Extreme inequalities • Rapid, large scale urbanization • No supporting infrastructure • Police abuse, and inefficacy • Corruption • Exclusion and lack opportunity for youth • Easy access to guns, drugs and alcohol Crime will continue to thrive in Latin America when the rule of law is weak, economic opportunity is scare, and there is limited to no education.
Crime and Violence • Why should the USA care? • Widespread corruption affects crime levels, at a minimum affecting global drug trafficking • Crime played a crucial role in the breakdown of democracy in inter-war Europe… is Latin America at risk too? • Rule of law impacts the state of democracy • To control a seemingly unruly populace, governments may gradually resort to brutalization or repression
Political Environment • Despite authoritarian tendencies, democratic principles aren’t new to Latin America • Most countries in the region established representative governments shortly after winning their independence in the nineteenth century, but… • Many judiciaries and political parties are weak and discredited
Political Environment • Why does this matter? • Without legitimate government structures in place, impoverished citizens receive little government support in addressing needs • 20% of government funds earmarked for spending are lost to corruption • 10% of the region’s GDP is lost each year to corruption * Source, Inter-American Development Bank
Political Environment • Best thought of as a pendulum swinging between democracy and authoritarian rule: • End of WWII, five became democratic, but only one democratic government survived • 1950s - 1960s, coups toppled several regimes • By 1975 only 3 nations were democratically elected • By mid-1990s, all were democratically elected except Cuba
Political Environment • Some countries are more democratic than others and Latin American democracy is not always the same as the USA • Democratic approaches employed in Latin America: • Liberal Democracy • Social Welfare Democracy • Quasi Democracy
Political Environment • Liberal Democracy • Offers representative government and protection of individual rights • Social Welfare Democracy • Liberally democratic state taking on major responsibility for reducing poverty and inequality • Quasi Democracy • Regarded as an authoritarian-corporatist state
Political Environment • Challenges to Democracies • Economics • Uneven distribution of wealth • Inability to deliver basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads, etc.) • Widespread poverty • Weak administrative capacity • Many officials come to office with little or no understanding of how to administer a country
Political Environment • Challenges to Democracies (cont’d.) • Anti-democratic opposition • Military coups • Drug traffickers • Guerilla insurgents
Political Environment Colombian Drug Lord • Challenges to Democracies (cont’d.) • Military coups • Haiti in 1991 • Venezuela in 1992 and 2001 • Ecuador in 2000 • Drug traffickers • Common in countries like Colombia & Bolivia • Bribe or threaten police and elected officials to escape prosecution
Political Environment Pablo Beltran, ELN leader • Challenges to Democracies (cont’d.) • Guerilla movements • Often starts in response to inequality and repression • Includes: • Shining Path in Peru • FARC in Colombia • ELN (National Liberation Army) in Colombia
Political Environment • Populism • All of these problems are causing many in Latin America to lose their faith in democracy • Many are turning to left-leaning politicians or populists • Populism is a political philosophy • Focuses on needs of common people • Advocates a more equitable distribution of wealth and power
Political Environment • Populism (cont’d.) • “55% of the people polled in Latin America said they would support the replacement of a democratic government with an authoritarian one; 58% agreed that leaders should ‘go beyond the law’ if they have to and 56% said they felt that economic development was more important than maintaining democracy.” ~ New York Times, 2004 • Populist leaders are increasingly getting elected throughout Latin America… and the pendulum is beginning to move away from democracy.
U.S. Interests • Trade and investments • Region is promising market for USA exports • Many leaders stake their political survival on their open-market reforms • Tools USA can use to help bolster democratization in the region • Drug trafficking • Arguably, the central issue in our relations as almost the entire global supply of cocaine comes from Latin America
U.S. Interests • Immigration • Hispanic/Latino population is the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States • Pew Institute research says that there are almost 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States—59% are Mexican • Cuba • “We were eyeball to eyeball, and the other fellow just blinked.” • Cold War animosity between the United States and Cuba remains
Summary • Background Video • Geography • People, Culture, and Religion • Poverty in Latin America • Crime and Violence • Political Environment • U.S. Interests