The Open Drains of Latin America
In developing countries, economic progress requires adapting technology that exists in other places, which necessitates engaging with those that have it. Characterizing these interactions as pure exploitation, rather than value-creating opportunities, has undermined the possibilities of many in Latin America and elsewhere.
NEW YORK – Stories are most believable when they reaffirm our prior beliefs and assumptions. If not, we tend to find them implausible.
A case in point is Eduardo Galeano’s much-admired 1971 book The Open Veins of Latin America, which has sold more than one million copies in 12 languages and defined a generation’s view of the region’s tortured history. The late Hugo Chávez gave US President Barack Obama a copy when they met in 2009 in Trinidad.
The book is commendable for its ability to describe five centuries of Latin American history with great coherence, something that only a work of fiction can achieve. History, unfortunately, is a bit more complex. A few weeks ago, Galeano, to the astonishment of many, distanced himself from his own book. He said he could no longer bear reading it, and that when he wrote it, he “lacked sufficient knowledge of economics and politics.”