Latin America in the New Global Capitalism

By Robinson, William I. | NACLA Report on the Americas, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Latin America in the New Global Capitalism


Robinson, William I., NACLA Report on the Americas


DURING THE MID-1980S, I WOULD TRAVEL FROM my home in Nicaragua to San Salvador, El Salvador, where I frequented the campus of the Central American University. At lunchtime we would exit the main campus gates to one of the city's principal thoroughfares, the Autopista Sur, dotted by rustic locally owned restaurants serving El Salvador's signature plate, pupusas. Today, there is not one pupusería outside the university gates. The skyline is instead blighted by an endless array of signs beckoning diners to all the well-known transnational fast food chains, from Burger King to Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken to Panda Express and Pollo Campero. This "McDonaldization" or "Warlmartization" - the globalization of what were once local and national retail sectors - has taken Latin America by storm. In the 10 years from 1990 to 2000, transnational supermarket and retail outlets increased their percentage of the Latin American retail market from 1 0% to 60% . By the 2 1st century, Walmart became Mexico's largest private employer, controlling over half of all supermarket sales.

The new face of global capitalism is everywhere in Latin America, from the ubiquitous fast-food chains, malls, and superstores that dominate local markets in emerging megacities to vast new fields of soy run by transnational agribusiness, which has invaded the Southern Cone countryside; from sprawling tourist complexes that have displaced thousands of communities to the export processing zones (EPZs) that employ hundreds of thousands as low-wage workers for the global assembly line. Whole neighborhoods have been built with remittance wages sent by the tens of millions of Latin American emigrants who provide cheap itinerant labor for other regions in the global economy. New trading patterns now link Latin America commercially to every continent. An academic or journalist returning to research Latin America's economy after several decades away would barely recognize the subcontinent, so vast has been the transformation of its political economy and social structure, as the region has been swept into capitalist globalization.

Earlier research on the global economy focused on the phenomenon of "runaway factories." The EPZs or maquiladoras, with their telltale exploitation of young women, became a premier symbol of capitalist globalization. Maquiladoras are now major components of the Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean economies, and EPZs have spread as well to the Andean region and even into the Southern Cone. But the Global Factory has since been joined by the Global Farm, as Latin America's agriculture has become an extension of the new transnational agribusiness, and by the Global Supermarket, as retail sectors have become globalized. As Brazilian economist Paulo Kliass discusses in this issue, Brazil has overtaken the United Kingdom to become the world's sixth-largest economy - a powerful testament to the economic rise of Latin America in the Global South and the changing nature of the international order.1

Yet as capitalist globalization has unleashed a new cycle of modernization and accumulation in the region, it has had contradictory effects. It has transformed the old oligarchic class structures, generating new transnationally oriented elites and high-consumption middle classes that enjoy the fruits of the global economic cornucopia even as it has displaced tens of millions, aggravated poverty and inequality in many countries, and wreaked havoc on the environment. Those newly marginalized and dispossessed have been anything but passive, as several articles in this issue make clear. Social movements of all kinds have joined in mass grassroots struggles that have helped to push a number of governments to the left in recent years and are now challenging the whole paradigm of global capitalism.

LATIN AMERICA'S INTEGRAtion into the new global production and financial system followed the collapse, in the wake of the 1970s world economic crisis, of the post- World War II development model in Latin America. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Latin America in the New Global Capitalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.