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argentina and latin america

Yesterday the government in Argentina released the latest employment and salary statistics.

  • 21.5% unemployed, which only considers those who are actively looking for work.
  • 15% are "sub-employed," meaning that they have part-time jobs or jobs that don't pay enough.
  • Half the population lives below the poverty line.
  • 25% of the population is "indigent," which means that they don't have enough money to buy simply enough food per month to cover the daily calorie requirement.

All of these indicators where at least at half that as recently as 2-3 years ago. This is not unique to Argentina in Latin America, but it's most visible there.

This social turmoil also surfaces in crime statistics. In Buenos Aires, once considered the "Paris of south america", a new wave of criminals specialize in "express kidnappings," targeting the few remaining middle class, not the rich. In Venezuela, the homicide rate has jumped 50% in three years. In Brazil, security has been one of the foremost problems for years.

In the meantime, in Argentina, the rich only care about getting more money into their pockets. The politicians squabble over the ruins. The IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and everybody else, sit back and watch, happily letting the country collapse.

Suddenly there are no new "solutions". In the 70s, the answer of the rich countries was to democratize (never mind that in many cases the US itself had helped install the dictatorship in question). In the 80s, the answer was "market-based reforms" and "improved democracy". In the '90s, Privatizations and further opening of the markets. Now, there are no more answers. It's always important to remember that the cracks in any system always begin in its weakest points. Not that the US is being treated nicely by the financial markets recently...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 26 2002 at 2:11 PM

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