Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States

By Francis Fukuyama | Go to book overview

6
The Role of High-Stakes
Politics in Latin America’s
Development Gap

RIORDAN ROETT AND FRANCISCO E. GONZÁLEZ

THE TWENTIETH CENTURY was a period of unpredictable institutional turbulence for Latin America: failed economic development models, elite-mass conflict, a natural resource “curse” (the reliance on traditional mineral and commodity exports and the inability to add value to exports and replicate the industrial development model of the countries of Southeast Asia, the socalled Asian Tigers), regime breakdowns, severe social inequality and appalling poverty, and the emergence, at the end of the century and into the early twenty-first century, of new forms of populism. Overall, Latin America’s growth record has been characterized by progress, poverty, and exclusion,1 and, as many observers agree, there has been relatively little progress and too much poverty and exclusion. What explains, first, the failure to address social inequality and economic models that have been found wanting in terms of employment, income, and status? And, second, what explains the lack of learning to understand, on the part of the region’s political leaders and elites, that political instability is directly related to their

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