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Consolidating Latin America’s Gains

The political opening that occurred in many of the region's countries in the 1930s and 1940s eventually gave way to the political disarray of the 1960s and the dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s. A similar political opening is occurring today, and sustaining it will require fresh thinking and novel policies.

SANTIAGO – At the time of last year’s failed coup in Turkey, I emailed a Turkish friend expressing concern. His answer left me thinking. After a somber review of events in his country, he concluded: “You are very lucky to be in Latin America, even though it may not seem that way sometimes.”

We Latin Americans are complainers. We shudder to think that other people’s lot could be worse than ours. But if a Latin American views today’s world objectively, it’s easy to understand why many would consider us fortunate.

Terrorism is on the rise in Europe, just as Colombia’s civil war, the region’s last, is ending. Argentines, Brazilians, and Chileans of my generation grew up with heavily armed soldiers patrolling airports, train stations, and other public places. Today we see the same in Brussels, Paris, and London, not here. Compared to US President Donald Trump, some of Latin America’s populist politicians seem almost competent and well informed.

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