Years ago I was very optimistic about Latin America, but in the last decade I have become very pessimistic. It seems that socialism and dependency on government are an integral part of Latin culture. Even where there is improvement it seems the centrifugal force of Latin culture pulls them back to a degraded socialist state.
But there has been some good news:
Good News on Chile
What is clear is that Chile is a stable democracy, a stable culture, and a free market economy. It meets the classic definition of a successful nation-state. It is finally liberalizing where necessary (in areas like divorce), but not at extreme levels (as in depopulating on-demand abortion). It embraces change, but not at a disruptive pace. It has not adopted so much of the suicidal self-destructive tendencies of so many Western democracies, though Michelle Bachelet’s recent pronouncement on acceptance of gay marriage may be a troubling turn of events.
Chile has become first world. Should its present socialist president avoid extreme social engineering, by all accounts Chile may soon become a world power, while the rest of the West socially engineers itself to death.
Good news about Mexico:
It doesn’t take an advanced finance degree to understand why Mexico is projected–by Goldman Sachs, among others–to represent the world’s fifth largest economy by 2050.
The most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, Mexico has booming ports on both oceans, abundant natural resources, a longstanding, well-developed industrial sector, close business ties to the United States, and easy access to the burgeoning US Latino population (with their soon-to-be $1.5 trillion in buying power).
But one thing that tends to get lost in this predictive calculus is that, even after just a few years of gestation, Mexico already boasts one of the more dynamic startup scenes in Latin America.
If Mexico is indeed moving beyond the maquiladora manufacturers and their free trade zones in the process of building the world’s next great economy, technology and innovation will be a part of the foundation of that economy.