South America Continues Its Turn Left
With the swearing in of Uruguay's first left-wing president, Tabare Vazquez, Uruguay has become one more country in South America's new collection of left-leaning governments, following the lead of Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina. Nevertheless, these new leftist governments have not taken any of the dramatic steps that might be offensive to the USA or Europe. Industries are not being nationalized and foreign investment is still welcomed.
So, what does this mean to expatriates living in Argentina and the rest of South America? I'm not quite sure yet, but I'm hopeful these left-leaning governments can do what they've promised and help lift their citizens out of poverty.
It is very easy for politicians in Washington to tell Argentina that they're spending too much on government housing and social assistance when they're a world away. I wonder whether the IMF and US Treasury officials would have the same views if they lived in Argentina -- if they saw street children asking for food while you ate? Would they say the same thing if they witnessed the cartoneros on garbage day, rummaging through everyone's garbage cans to look for cardboard or tin they can sell to the recycling plant?
Pure unrestrained capitalism works a lot better in some areas of the world than in others. There always need to be checks and balances to ensure capitalism doesn't spiral out of control. It is a heartless system by design and so it must be overseen to ensure things don't get out of hand.
Still, it will be interesting to see how these new governments fare and whether South America will continue to trend leftward. It seems that all of South America has spoken and clearly rejected the "Washington Consensus" of the 1990s, with the mass privatization of industry and cuts in social spending. I certainly hope these new governments can find a middle ground.
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