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Posted: December 31, 2002

Here is a hopeful note to end 2002, a year that saw most of Latin America sink back into the turbulence of decades past. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds' InstaPundit, I came across a UPI analysis by James C. Bennett who predicts that a "Hispanosphere" will coalesce over the next decade or two, following the example of United Europe. He envisions political-economic integration in Spanish America, which means not including Brazil. He writes:

Two trends have emerged in Latin America which, between them, may mark a permanent break with the past practices that have kept these regions in poverty. One is the relative opening of their economies to market forces, most fully in Chile, but also significantly in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere.

This opening is breaking down the cozy symbiosis between the political class and the economic monopolies, which has historically dominated Latin American societies. Observers such as Hernando de Soto, Mario Vargas Llosa and Claudio Veliz have all written extensively, from their various perspectives, on this phenomenon.

The other is the explosive, and mostly unnoticed growth of religious diversity, particularly in the form of evangelical Protestantism and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

Interesting. When I visited Peru a few years ago, I told students that promoting economic ties with neighboring countries was absolutely essential for keeping up with the rest of the world. I think most Latin American people are realizing they must set aside their petty parochial differences and move on. I'm not about to preach to them about religion, however.

Nov. 19, 2002 [LINK]

Argentina bribery

After months of economic panic and political maneuvering, Argentina finally announced it was not going to make a payment due on its debt to the World Bank. (It had defaulted on its private debts last December.) Richard Jahnke's El Sur Web blog has links to stories about this in The Economist and Latin American newspapers. Oddly, the IMF has responded in a conciliatory, low-key way so far. Apparently, there has been a slight economic rebound in Argentina recently, and the government seems to think its bargaining position has improved.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

Aug. 30, 2002 [LINK]

Argentina bribery

According to the Financial Times, Argentine legislators solicited bribes from foreign banks in exchange for delaying passage of legislation that would have imposed emergency tax hikes on them. The bill's author, Senator Jose Luis Barrionuevo, is a former labor leader who once boasted, "No one in Argentina makes their money by working."

June 3, 2002 [LINK]


The Argentine legislature finally passed laws that create stiffer criminal penalties for tax evasion and foreign currency export, thus satisfying one of the key requirements demanded by the IMF, which will now be much more likely to approve "rollover" loans. For the moment, the crisis has eased just slightly.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.