Los latinoamericanos tenemos muchos talentos. Uno de ellos es la notable aptitud para gobernarnos mal, como lo ha puesto de manifiesto la pandemia. Seis de los 20 países con más muertes per cápita del mundo a causa del Covid-19 se encuentran en América Latina. Perú encabeza la lista y Brasil ocupa el octavo lugar.
Sin duda que la pobreza, la escasez de camas en los hospitales, y las hacinadas condiciones de vivienda, contribuyeron a la diseminación del virus, pero estos factores por sí solos no explican por qué la región lo ha hecho tan mal. Muchas naciones de Asia y de África padecen de los mismos problemas, pero sufrieron menos muertes per cápita. Incluso países que vacunaron a su población tempranamente, como Chile, –o que al principio de la pandemia parecían exitosos, como Uruguay– han terminado con un desempeño mediocre.
Many aspects of cryptocurrencies are baffling, not least the success of a joke like Dogecoin. But El Salvador’s recent adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar is perhaps the strangest and potentially most worrying example of all.
El Salvador this month [September 2021] became the first country to adopt a cryptocurrency – in this case, Bitcoin – as legal tender. I say the first, because others might follow. But they should think twice, because the idea is highly dubious – and likely to be economically dangerous for developing countries in particular.
I will admit that I don’t understand the need for cryptocurrencies at all. Like manyeconomists, I fail to see what problem they solve. They aren’t well designed to fulfill any of the classic functions of money – a unit of account, store of value, or means of payment – because their prices are so extraordinarily volatile. This volatility is not surprising, because cryptocurrencies are backed neither by reserves nor by the reputation of a well-established institution, such as a government or even a private bank or other trusted corporation.
Most of Latin America is still far from the horrific conditions prevailing in Venezuela, where output has fallen by a staggering 75% since 2013. But, given the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe there, and the specter of political instability elsewhere, investors should not take a sustained economic recovery for granted.
The current disconnect between market calm and underlying social tensions is perhaps nowhere more acute than in Latin America. The question is how much longer this glaring dissonance can continue.
Evo Morales, tenant of the Palacio de Quemado for 13 long years now, rejected the fact that 51.3% of Bolivians voted “No” in the 2016 referendum for his fourth presidential candidacy in October 2019. To do so, the Constitutional Court ruled that the same Constitution Morales passed in 2009, which limited presidential reelections, violated his political right to run for office. The ruling stated that term limits were essentially a human rights violation, and, therefore, overruled the Constitution to allow Morales to run for reelection. Now, with all the resources of the state in his favor, Morales will be the candidate of the governing party once again. His reelection in 2014 and the 2006 Constituent Assembly have been questioned as well. However, some disregard these criticisms based on the economic and social achievements of Morales’ administration.
Dr. William Arrocha, Assistant Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, recently shared his expertise and thoughts on compassionate migration, DACA, the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico, and what truly makes us human with Open Americas.
Can you describe your background? How did you become interested in the field of international policy and more specifically in U.S./Mexico relations, migration, and human rights?
I am an eternal migrant, born from immigrant parents in Mexico City, a place where many worlds have met, clashed and thrived for centuries. As someone born within an international and multicultural family, my reason for being will always involve more than one country or place. As the Argentina poet Facundo Cabral once said, “I’m not from here… I’m not from there.”
Being born in Mexico to an American mother and a Mexican father always placed me in the confines of U.S.-Mexico relations. Being raised in a family with parents engaged in the realms of the law, social justice, and human rights, studying in the French system during all my formative years and at my bachelors at the National Autonomous University of Mexico could not have taken me to any other path than that of an internationalist.
I miss Venezuela. I’ve thought about it every single day since I left in 2013. I wish I could wake up to have a cafecito with my mamá, have an arepa for breakfast and be able to share my dreams and goals with my childhood friends. I daydream about the warmth of its people and its weather. I reminisce over time spent in my family’s home, when we all lived nearby, and my siblings and friends were just a call away. I miss the sense of community and the feeling that I belonged. Painful as it is to accept, I miss a country that no longer exists.
Venezuela began exporting oil in the beginning of the 20th century, and since then has built its economy on the revenue from its oil exports. Supported by its vast oil reserves, Venezuela rose to the position of the richest country in Latin America in 1970, but its economy was vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices. In the 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela sat on 60 billion barrels of oil. By 2010, it had 297 billion barrels in reserve, making it the country with the world’s largest crude oil reserves. However, when oil prices fell in the 1980s, Venezuela’s economy suffered greatly, due to 90 percent of its export revenue consisting of oil exports. When Hugo Chavez came into power in 1991, he brought with him a socialist revolution. To restore economic development, Chavez nationalized the country’s oil, healthcare, and food industries. He used oil export revenue to fund social programs as well as food subsidies for the poor, and supplied essential goods at low prices by importing them. Combined with high international oil prices during that period, Chavez’s economic system functioned well.