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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Mood in Latin America

Ernesto Zedillo (remember him?):

Mortification, tinged with depression, seemed to color the mood of Latin American participants at January’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Their gloominess stemmed from the fact that this year countries in the region were receiving minuscule attention on the forum’s program, in contrast with that conferred on other emerging countries--India, in particular. Furthermore, the scant comments regarding Latin America on the sidelines of the meetings were mostly about the rhetoric of Bolivia’s new president, Evo Morales, and the striped sweater he’d worn when visiting dignitaries during his preinauguration world tour.

Uneasiness over Latin America at Davos and elsewhere is rooted in the region’s perennial economic underperformance and the strong populist tone most of its politicians have been striking in recent electoral campaigns. There is talk of an old-fashioned leftist wave sweeping the region. The fear is that by next fall, when this cycle of national elections has been completed, a large number of governments will have been elected on incredibly retrograde and demagogic platforms that currently hold sway over large numbers of voters.

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