The image of Latin America portrayed by the mass media and held by the educated public is a region of frequent coups, periodical revolutions, perpetual military dictatorships, alternating boom and bust economies and an ever-present International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictating economic policy. In contrast the same opinion makers plus their academic counterparts project images of the United States and the European Union as stable societies, with steady economic growth, incremental expansion of social welfare programs, resolving issues via consensual compromises and practicing sound fiscal policies.
In recent times, the better part of the current decade, these images have taken on the character of ideological dogmas – they no longer correspond to reality. In fact a good argument can be made that the roles have been reversed: the US and EU are in perpetual crises and Latin America, at least most of the major countries, have experienced stability and growth which is the envy (or should be) of Washington pundits and financial commentators.
We will proceed to outline the contrasting realities between the crises ridden “North” (US/EU) and the sustained growth of the “South” ( South America ). The analysis will raise questions of whether the South American experience is transferable to the North and what ‘structural adjustments’ would be necessary to pull the US and EU out of the downward spiral of stagnation and violent conflicts which have characterized these regions for the better part of the past decade.