pezzini4_Jorge Ivan Castaneira JaramilloGetty Images_ecuadorprotest Jorge Ivan Castaneira Jaramillo/Getty Images

A New Development Vision for Latin America

Although Latin America has a long development journey ahead of it, the region’s policymakers must now respond urgently to citizens’ demands. By moving quickly to tackle the causes of popular frustration, governments can bolster wellbeing, trust, and long-term prosperity.

PARIS – The wave of popular protests that shook Latin America in late 2019 marked a turning point not only in the politics of the countries involved, but also in terms of understanding the region’s long-term development. The COVID-19 crisis is already affecting living standards and transforming public perceptions and expectations in ways that are still difficult fully to comprehend, much less address. Only by rethinking national social contracts and initiating broad processes of dialogue can policymakers hope to tackle rising discontent and act collectively.

Several key questions must be addressed. What obstacles are stalling the region’s development? Are public institutions equipped to respond appropriately to citizens’ new aspirations and national concerns? And how can citizens be empowered to advance their evolving demands effectively and keep governments accountable?

The protests across the region took many observers by surprise, because Latin America’s socioeconomic situation has improved in the last decade. But the region is now facing three major “development traps” – a set of vicious cycles that are preventing countries from advancing to greater prosperity.

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