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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Democracy and Prosperity in Latin America

Carlos Alberto Montaner (again):

How do we ensure that the happy combination of market and democracy will eventually produce in Latin America the same fruit that it has produced in countries such as Holland, Denmark, Ireland and even Spain and Portugal?

The answer may lie in the Chilean experience, or the Spanish experience after Franco's death. It all begins with forging a clear consensus within the largest segment of the sensible ruling class, to the right and left of the political span.

That consensus involves an agreement based on the preservation of the four basic pillars of the system, just as they exist in the 20 most successful nations on the planet:

• Respect for the rule of law (which implies the end of impunity).

• Democracy as a method to make collective decisions (that cannot violate individual rights).

• Private property and market (instead of statism and planning).

• An opening to the exterior, for the purpose of interrelating decisively with the First World in the fields of finance, technology and trade.

Any society that firmly sets its course in that direction for a prolonged period of time will arrive at a safe port. The problem is not in the model; it's in the way it is applied.

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