Sunday, October 27, 2019

South American Unrest

Valeska Hesse, director of the Latin America office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), a political think tank
pointed out that much like Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Ecuador's leader, Lenin Moreno, was forced to announce austerity measures — now canceled — because of debt negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

"For more than 50 years, the IMF has always trumpeted the same recipe, namely economic liberalization and cuts to public spending," she said.

"Chile is the most neoliberal country in the world. Every aspect of public life there has been privatized: pensions, health care, education," said Hesse. Yet many Chileans have trouble making ends meet, and that has been an important factor in protests there. "The average middle-class citizen there earns about €700 ($778) a month, but cost of living prices are comparable to Berlin."

Even if Chile isn't the poorest region in the world, its inequality is the world's most extreme. In Chile 1% of the country's population owns 26.5% of its wealth. According to the World Bank's GINI index, which tracks global wealth inequality only two countries outside of Latin America — South Africa and Rwanda — were ranked among the world's 10 most economically unequal. Chile was ranked seventh.

Michael Alvarez of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and who served as the think tank's director in Santiago de Chile for several years told DW that after much social progress in the early 2000s, many Latin American countries are now tightening their belts. "Deficits are growing in Ecuador, Argentina and other countries across the region, and governments are not countering that with a systematic overhaul of their tax systems and tax reforms...Compared with the last century, people in Latin America are no longer willing to accept social inequality." 

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