By Melina Mora – International Relations Student
Latin America and its socioeconomics, besides being one of the most corrupt enigmas in the world, is the interest of many people within the field of study of international relations, since it has all the potential to be a region categorized as a world power. Latin America is in a constant loop of corruption, waste of resources and, above all, inequity. It is on this last point that we are going to focus on the present essay. We believe that there must be a common denominator between each of the countries of the region so that, simultaneously or asynchronously, the States repeat the same errors and fall into the same ineffective practices that lead to the eventual failure and suffering of the populations. It is important to note that Latin America is a land of poles (and polarization), on the one hand we have a pole of tourism, beauty, attractiveness, peace, development, ecology; on the other hand, we have a pole of poverty, hunger, pollution corruption and regressions. How can we meet in the middle to understand the situation?
Luckily, there are theories in the field of international relations that are there to explain everything, we consider that the most appropriate theory to analyze this problem is constructivism, which is the claim that significant aspects of international relations are historically and socially constructed, rather than inevitable consequences of human nature or other essential characteristics of world politics (Adler, 2013). In this case, the theory can be clearly seen in the historical and social factors that precede the current situation in Latin America, such as the fact that inequality has been present since the times of the conquest, when Latin America was under European rule. We can see a series of trends such as the clear demarcation between social classes, the whites, then the Creole whites, then the pardos, indigenous, slaves, inequality descended at the disposition of the colonizer, independence itself was a product of this inequality imposed by the European regime.
Fast forward 200 years later and the numbers speak for themselves, according to the World Economic Forum (2016) Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world. In 2014 the richest 10% of people in Latin America had amassed 71% of the region's wealth. Much of this wealth is held offshore in tax havens, which means that a sizeable portion of the benefits of Latin America’s growth are being captured by a small number of very wealthy individuals, at the expense of the poor and the middle class.
Inequality in Latin America, in addition to being an impediment to sustainable development, is a determining factor for the politics of the region as well. Some years ago we experienced the phenomenon of pink tide, with regimes such as Chavez and Ortega that even today have extreme and very negative repercussions on the populations of Venezuela and Nicaragua, with a tendency for politicians to take advantage of this situation of inequity to appeal to the country's poor population and then illicitly enrich themselves with those same resources that they promised to return (Costa, 2018). This is just one more example of how history tends to repeat itself, confirming the constructivist theory. What we see today is just a response to the stimuli that as a region we have received throughout the years after the conquest, it is impossible not to see the clear pattern of "once we get to the top, we stop caring about what's below." Finally, it is important to say goodbye with a reflection and it is that if we want to project ourselves to the future, we must stop relapsing into the mistakes of the past.