Globe, Latin America

Inequality in Latin America: a difficult enemy to overcome

There is a culture of privilege, where inequality, corruption, impunity, tax evasion, tax avoidance, management of interests and territorial segregation have become normalised.


Ivette Fernández Sosa


According to reports recently issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in Latin America and the Caribbean almost 40 million people live in a state of undernourishment, which has led the authorities to estimate that the fight against starvation in the area is showing no progress.

“In the region we are stuck in the fight against hunger. In 2014, it affected 38.5 million and in 2017 it exceeded 39 million,” revealed the FAO regional representative, Julio Berdegué.

Likewise, in Latin America the index of serious food insecurity jumped from 7.6% in 2016 to 9.8% in 2017.

Parallel to this, the prolonged drought that hit the area during the last decade significantly reduced agricultural production, with losses estimated at between 50 and 90% of the crops. “More than 3.6 million people needed humanitarian aid as a result of this drought,” says the FAO.

According to a joint report by ECLAC and the International Labor Organization (ILO), the region is losing its natural resources due to environmental deterioration caused by the current style of development.

Therefore, these organizations estimated, a transition towards a more sustainable model is urgent, both from the point of view of the environment and employment.

By 2030, the report indicates, it is projected that the transition towards energy sustainability will be able to create more than one million jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While a move towards a circular economy, “in which the efficiency and life of the materials is improved by promoting durability and the ability to repair, remanufacture, reuse and recycle,” would generate 4.8 million net jobs by that date.

“The creation of jobs in reprocessing sectors of steel, aluminium, wood and other metals will more than compensate for the losses associated with the extraction of minerals and other materials,” the publication adds.

The establishment of “policies aimed at environmental sustainability should be accompanied by integrated legal frameworks and policies of social protection, development of competencies and gender equality, which promote social dialogue,” also established the UN bodies.

Notwithstanding future estimates, the lower expected growth for the Latin American economies this year led to an increase in the unemployment forecast.

According to the same report, this year’s numbers will resemble those obtained in the previous period in relation to unemployment, when it reached its highest rate in 12 years.

And it is that the emerging challenges in the workplace, coupled with the damage done to the region by climate change, introduce new challenges to the old ones that still have not been solved.

ECLAC, which at the end of last year ruled a 2.2% growth in the region for the year that is almost over, revised it down recently to 1.3 percentage points, while by 2019 an expansion of 1.8% is expected.

A risk that persists for emerging economies in general and, within these, for Latin America and the Caribbean in particular, is that of a further deterioration in the international financial environment. In addition, commercial tensions pose a risk not only for the volume of global trade and the world’s medium-term growth rate, but also for the prices of raw materials and for financial conditions themselves.

As established by ECLAC, Latin America and the Caribbean are not exempt from the economic and commercial damage that the rest of the world is facing, the intensification of sanctions by Washington against several nations and the volatility of hydrocarbon prices.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the rate of expansion seems to have peaked in some nations so this year forecasts for 2018 and 2019 of the world’s leading economies were revised, among which are Japan and some European countries.

Judging by recent World Bank (WB) research, the slowdown in growth is attributed to the market turbulences that Argentina has experienced since April and the decrease of the main indicators in Brazil, added to an unfavourable external environment, among other factors.

As part of the recommendations made by the WB is the need to boost investment, promote an increase in the rate of savings and exports, and prioritise the expenses associated with education. As the ECLAC directive reveals, “from an economic perspective we are growing very little, from a social perspective there are enormous inequalities, including those of gender, where women have better education than men and earn 30% less at the same level of study and type of work.” (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: – Photos: Pixabay



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