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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Lurch to the Left

Not everyone is as pessimistic as I am about recent political developments in Latin America:

It is as all too easy to despair about Latin America's political and economic future. As Venezuela's Hugo Chavez continues to export his Bolivarian revolution abroad and as Evo Morales, Bolivia's newly elected president, threatens to nationalize his country's natural gas industry, one can be forgiven for seeing frightening specters of the continent's sorry past. In particular, one might be excused for asking whether Latin America might be drifting yet again in the direction of the failed economic and social policies of the 1970s.

A soberer and more wide-ranging review of the region's-political and economic landscape suggests, however, that Latin America's democratic process is now well entrenched. It would also reveal that centrist economic policies are now very much the rule rather than the exception. As such, US anxiety over the continent's economic and political future would appear to be misplaced. And it's probably best that the US administration limit itself to engaging the continent in a constructive dialogue about fruitful economic and trade arrangements.

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