The common opinion claims that every country has its own unique way of development. However, the recent analysis of the international social, political and economic situation demonstrates similarities among different states both on global and local levels. Sometimes, the whole regions follow one particular ideology. The most vivid example of this statement is Latin America that by the end of the twentieth century turned into one huge experiment on the adoption of a new doctrine, neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism is an economic term that presupposes the establishment of one free market where all players have equal chances to benefit. The cornerstone of this doctrine is an assumption that the majority of needs and desires of people, companies or states can be satisfied with the material wealth achieved through the economy (Kelly, 2008). In the sociocultural area, this ideology dictates persons to focus on money and personal welfare, and in the political field, it claims that the government should distance itself from the economic life of the country giving all public assets to private companies. In this way, free market trading will be promoted the most actively.
All Latin American countries except Chile adopted the neoliberalism doctrine in the 80s and 90s of the past century. Lara Kelly (2008) claims that the transition towards the new ideology was a result of the debt crisis, which in turn started because of a sharp increase in oil prices. Desiring to continue their industrial development, Latin American countries borrowed money from multinational banks. These states were forced to adopt neoliberalism strategies proposed and dictated by international organizations to avoid the default of their loans. As a result, export processing zones with simplified trading laws were created.
Kelly (2008) argues that these zones use cheap women workforce and provide only low-waged and dangerous jobs. The governments of Latin American countries ceded control over the economic sector to private hands that used budget money to increase economic performance. Without appropriate funding, the social sector began to degrade, and now the whole region demonstrates high rates of inequality, poverty, and criminality. Neoliberalism also had negative consequences for the local environment. Collectively owned lands were sold to business companies making hundreds of people homeless and damaging the biodiversity of the continent. Kelly (2008) insists that such strong focus on economic development and dependence on powerful corporations deteriorates democracy in the region.
The crisis caused by the new ideology provoked strong public discontent and the necessity of immediate reforms. The governments of Latin American countries applied different strategies in response to the consequences of the past privatizations. One of them was large-scale aggressive nationalization that became the main process in the political course of Argentina. At the same time, Ecuador and Bolivia decided to nationalize only certain sectors of the economy while leaving others in private hands. In Venezuela, the nationalist government headed by Hugo Chavez aggressively fought against private companies, but eventually was replaced with more liberal Nicolas Maduro who aborted the ambitious plans of his predecessor (Lewkowicz, 2015). Finally, Brazil took a medium course investing money in private companies. Javier Lewkowicz (2015) outlines that despite essential differences all these strategies increase the role of the government in the economic life of the state and restore fields damaged by neoliberalism policies.
The end of the twentieth century was an extremely complicated time for Latin America. The debt crisis caused by the increase in oil prices forced all countries in the region to adopt the neoliberalism doctrine that gave enormous power to private companies. Weak positions of governments and focus on economic development quickly destroyed social and political sectors causing public discontent. In recent decades, Latin American countries have taken different strategies trying to overcome the consequences of the past decisions. However, none of them has proven to be effective making the future of the region quite uncertain.
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