Free Custom «The Political and Economic Changes in Latin America in the 21st Century» Essay Sample
In the recent years, Latin American countries have experienced considerable economic and political changes, some of which have negatively affected these countries. Whereas some countries embraced globalization and its benefits, others shunned it. Democratization is one of the notable political changes taking place in this region of the American continent. Some of the other significant economic changes are the piling up of external debts and slow or raped rate of economic growth. These changes have forced most countries in Latin America to restructure their financial systems domestically (Gwynne and Cristobal 36). The paper compares political, social and economic changes in Mexico with those taking place in Columbia and Venezuela.
The Political/Economic Stance of Leaders in Mexico and Columbia
The changes that took place in Mexico have affected the position of its economy and population. After the Mexican Revolution, the then leaders established a social-based democracy, which operated nominally, and a protectionist economy policy, which resulted in the growth of the country’s economy. The international oil crisis, which affected the whole world, did not spare Mexico, prompting the Mexican leaders to change the direction of their economy and adopt neoliberal reforms. These changes have integrated the economy of Mexico with the economies of other countries (Jackiewicz and Bosco 1120-1182).
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During his tenure, President Vincente Fox signed agreements that improved Mexico’s trade relationships with Israel and European countries. As a result, the economy of the country was expanded. During his tenure, President Enrique Peña Nieto implemented constitutional reforms in the areas of energy, telecommunication, and education. He also introduced a shift from the old paper-based judicial system to oral adversarial one to improve expediency, transparency, and quality of the services offered. Nevertheless, these changes have not produced a tangible result as it was anticipated (Sanderson 76).
These political and economic changes could not have been possible without the leader’s efforts. Columbia has also experienced significant political and economic changes that can be attributed to its leaders. The efforts of Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos made it possible to establish peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia by employing negotiations with the generals leading the revolution. This led to the end of a war that was crippling the economy of the country. President Santos has led a fight against drug trade in the country, which, as he argued, hinders economic development of the country since foreign investors are afraid of drug cartels. Political leaders who have opposed cartels have been assassinated, including a considerable number of police officers who lost their lives in the fight against drug trade. Apart from that, guerilla warfare poses additional challenges to the fight against drugs as the leaders of guerilla fighters advocate for the growth of these drugs. However, agreements between the guerilla leaders and the government to end the conflict and unite their efforts in the fight against the dug abuse are likely to mitigate the situation.
Urban v. Rural Differences in Mexico and Columbia
According to Smith (75), the percentage of people who have access to education facilities in urban areas is high compared to those in the countryside. This fact can also be attributed to the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas. Thus, while rural areas attract hardly any highly educated workers, big cities utilize both highly and semi-educated workers. As a result, the development in the countryside is retard in comparison to the urban areas. Economic and demographical shifts have led to significant development of urban centers such as Mexico City. The living standards in the cities are far much better in comparison with the conditions of life in the rural areas, which is evident from well-designed architectural buildings. This is especially noticeable in Columbia’s city Medellin, which was previously filled with violence and drug abuse but now has transformed into a strongly development city.
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These cities have preserved their cultural heritage, which has served as an attraction centers for tourism. Urbanization rate in Latin America is considered to be higher than in European countries (Jackiewicz and Bosco 1336 -1386). According to Eckstein (65), families in rural areas are larger compared to the families in the urban centers because a few generations reside in the same household to reduce the cost of living through sharing duties and expenses. Compared to the cities in Mexico, child labor is prominent in rural areas, with children performing duties that are inappropriate for their age. However, in urban centers cases of child labor are rare due to modernization. Additionally, it can be attributed to the fact that urban families consist of fewer children, which means that they can comfortably take care of their children. Columbia has experienced similar differences in the structure of their urban and rural areas.
The early 1960s, a vast number people migrated to Columbian cities, transforming the agrarian based society into an urban center, one of the largest in the history of Latin America. Columbian cities such as Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla, and Medellin have grown into large economic, health care, and education centers. These urban centers are set to be the source of growth of Columbian economy in general. Attempts have been made to facilitate growth in the rural areas. The political negotiations taking place between the leaders of Columbia could make the country one of the biggest economies in the world through redistribution of farmland to those who were displaced by the upheaval. Migration from rural areas took place when the Columbian government promoted urbanization by adopting export-based economy, mostly by supporting the processing and extraction industries.
Similar to Mexico, the highest percentage of the poor in Colombia live in the country. According to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights Country Report of 2015, rural inhabitants have little or no access to health services. Among the world’s largest cities, four of them are found in Latin America. These cities have expanded rapidly, which have led to problems associated with urbanizattion such as degradation of the environment, social issues, and poor infrastructure (Jackiewicz and Bosco 1549).
Comparison of the Political and Economic Changes in Mexico and Venezuela
One can notice identifiable similarities and differences in the political and economic changes that have taken place in Venezuela and Mexico. Unlike Mexican leaders, who took measures to strengthen the economy of their countries, Venezuelan leaders have contributed to the deterioration of their economy Despite the fact that President Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, became the leader of a economically weak country, he never took an initiative to salvage the economy. On the contrary, he shifted blame onto local investors, accusing them of destroying the economy of the country, and did not formulate any measures to address these issues. Mexican leaders advocated for democracy for everyone, which is contrary to what President Nicolas is doing ̶ arresting the opposition leaders (Young 124).
The falling prices for oil are posing a danger to the already deteriorated economy. Poor and irresponsible leadership is one of the sources of challenges affecting this economy. By overvaluing their currency known as Bolivar, the country has discouraged foreign investors from carrying out business operations in the country. For instance, overvaluation of Bolivar has hurt the Ford mobile company. Other companies such as Clorox have had to closed their business operation in the country. The level of inflation in Mexico has dropped over the last few years, which could be attributed to the economic system in the country (Martz 98).
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The country has shifted from a more closed interventionist economy and adopted a more open economic policy, which has fostered industrialization of the country, leading to its economic growth. Being in the same region and under the same colonial rule, there should be no great difference in the economies of the two nations. However, Mexico outperforms Venezuela with a large margin in terms of national debt management. This can be attributed to the fact that the Mexican government responds to significant economic changes swiftly compared to Venezuela. In addition, the rate of unemployment in Venezuela stands at eight percent and is higher than that of Mexico, which equals 5 percent. However, one should not overlook corruption, insecurity problems, child labor, human trafficking, drug abuse, and other issues facing Mexico. These vices have posed a major challenge towards the growth and development of the Mexican economy (Keck and Sikkink 90).
It is evident from the discussion that political and economic changes taking place in the Latin American region have affected the economies of its countries both positively and negatively. Leadership strategy is one of the determining factors that contributed to success of Mexican economy in comparison to Colombian and Venezuelan economies. Therefore, countries that have experienced adverse political and economic changes should adopt strategies that have been effectively employed by their neighbors and formulate strategies that will facilitate the growth of their economies.
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