On October 18th, 2019, Chile, South America’s poster child of economic success, erupted in massive protests over a price increase in subway fare. Although less than 5 U.S. cents, the fare increase gave way to larger protests about/concerning an economic system that was not working for large swathes of the Chilean population. Decades of persistent inequality, economic precarity, and financial insecurity drove the protests to be some of the largest the region has seen in recent years.
As the world becomes more unequal, with wealth and income inequality on the rise globally and within and between countries, the idea of human rights for all has begun to broaden. Discourse on human rights has expanded to include the right to health, education, security and dignity. Underscored by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the rethinking of human rights is based on the concept of equality. In Latin America, where many of the SDGs have been achieved, inequality is a persistent barrier for many people to fully achieve their human rights.
A key indicator of ethnoracial income inequality is the difference in the probability of being poor between whites and non-whites. This probability is expressed as the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line. In Brazil, 5.2 percent of whites live below the extreme poverty line, while, for non-whites, that figure is 14.6 percent. In Bolivia, where 14.7 percent of whites live below the poverty line, the rate for non-whites is 31.5. In Guatemala, the rate for whites is 20.6, and the rate for non-whites is 46.6. To what extent does fiscal policy reduce this gap?
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to spend half of my summer working in Sololá, Guatemala. The municipality is located in the Western highlands of the country, and I was specifically staying around the beautiful Lake Atítlan in the town of San Juan La Laguna. When my intern team’s boat landed in San Juan’s dock, I remember being a bit apprehensive – I had been forewarned that the town was more in tune to its Maya roots and that it would be a much more traditional experience than the other parts of Guatemala we had visited.
In June 2015, members of the United Nations joined at the Addis Ababa development financing conference. At the head of the docket was the topic of tax evasion, and developing countries pushed for the creation of an intergovernmental tax body within the UN which would ultimately establish global tax rules and help eliminate tax havens.
In Rio de Janeiro, a growing crime rate still plagues much of the city and the sound of gunshots and back-alley drug deals are not uncommon occurrences. The torture and murder of a bricklayer from the neighborhood of Rocinha has sparked protests against the corrupt police forces responsible. Despite these ongoing issues, tourists are finding themselves seeking lodging within these neighborhoods. Hotels in Rio are in very short supply and even the most basic hotels have increased their prices to $450 per night during the World Cup1.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently concluded the annual Article IV Consultation with Colombian policymakers, which took place from March 3rd-13th.2The IMF mission was headed by Valerie Cerra, who concluded that Colombia had a strong macroeconomic policy framework and was able to weather the global financial crisis through an inflation-targeting regime, maintaining
In the largest city in South America, more than 8,000 families are living in temporary tents consisting of plastic sheets and timber.
Since 1980, the poverty rate in Latin America has fallen 30%, a third of the decline due to progressive shifts in the income distribution.1 In 2000, a quarter of the region (25 in every 100 Latin Americans) lived on less than $2.50 a day. Today, fewer than 14 in every 100 do.2 Since roughly 2002, falling income inequality is visible in the entirety of the heterogeneous region: among commodity driven economies such as Peru and manufacturing dominant ones such as Mexico. How can one explain the common outcome given the diversity of the region’s makeup?