The Rest Beyond the West
Edited by Vladimir Popov and Piotr Dutkiewicz
Chapter 8: Latin America’s development: a short historical account
The economic history of Latin America is marked by three essential features. The first is that it was the part of the developing world (together with the Caribbean) the most deeply transformed by colonization, as well as the first to become politically independent in the early nineteenth century (with the exception of Cuba). The second, which it shares with other parts of the developing world, has been its position within the world’s economic system as a commodity producer, a feature, a few countries aside, it has been unable to overcome despite the industrialization drive that took place in particular from the 1930s to the 1970s. This has made the region vulnerable to trends and fluctuations in commodity prices. This vulnerability has been enhanced in different periods by highly unstable and pro-cyclical access to external financing, giving rise to severe crises when these two factors coincided. The third is that it is, together with parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the most unequal region of the world.
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