Latin America

In attempting to establish the current state of development in Latin America,
historical chronology serves as the foundation necessary for a comprehensively
logical position. Latin American development has evolved in distinct phases,
which lead to the present day standings of the politics and peoples throughout
the region. The culmination of distinct historical attributes: conquest,
colonialism, mercantilism, captalism, industrialism, and globalism, serve as the
developmental path from the past, to allow an understanding of the current state
of development. In overview of this, as perceived by Latin American governments,
the four primary areas of concern as reported from the 1994, "Summit of the

Americas" held by heads of 34 countries, were as follows: (1) preserving and
strengthening the community of democracies of the Americas, (2) free trade area
of the Americas (FTAA), (3) eradicating poverty and discrimination in the
hemisphere, (4) education (Americas Net). Each issue examined by members of the
summit involves aspects of politics and economics. The desired changes in Latin

American society can be shown connected to these two subject areas, as held by
authors Skidmore and Smith, "From modernization theory we take the casual
premise that economic transformations induce social changes which, in turn, have
political consequences."(Skidmore and Smith, 10) The understanding of
historical background, an awareness of current political goals, and the
incorporation of modern political and social theory allow an increasingly
accurate depiction of the state of development in Latin America to be
constructed. Development, largely defined as bringing to a more advanced or
effective state, stands often as the product of the successful management and
collaboration of economic, social, and political areas. The current state of
development should therefore gauge today’s level of success in creating a more
advanced and effective state. In considering these criteria, development in

Latin America may best be described as progressively transitional, continually
improving, yet still lacking stability and permanence in structure. This
apparent lack is causing disfunctionalism of governmental bodies to be
successfully consistent in altering the povertized sectors of society. The
ultimate pattern perpetuates the social stratifications of Latin America, which
only continue to erode the workings of development at large. To break such a
cycle, successful structural functionalism under governments of stability and
permanence must be achieved. Economics: Economics holds key importance in an
array of political and social workings in all areas of the world. The factor
making this sector a central component in successful development is that
economics often serves as the catalyst between developmental areas. Even in
basic terms as proposed in the modernization theory employed by authors Skidmore
and Smith, economics alters the society, and this in turn will play a crucial
factor in political outcomes, " Latin America has occupied an essentially
subordinate or dependent position, pursuing economic paths that have been
largely shaped by the industrial powers of Europe and the United States. These
economic developments have brought about transitions in the social order and
class structure, and these changes in turn have crucially affected political
change."(Skidmore and Smith, 42) Keeping this in mind, one applies this
background knowledge to the region of Latin America. Historically, the markets
and economies of Latin America have functioned with near absolute dependence on
the needs and conditions of foreign markets. Largely, this economic relationship
is referred to as dependency theory. This dependence was instilled from the
incipient colonization efforts of Spain and Portugal, which operated on the
monarchial duty of mercantilism; all efforts were done in honor of the mother
country alone. With the fall of colonialism and the onset of independent
government, two major transitions occurred. First, the newly independent
governments advanced peoples of European blood and descent into the majority of
political positions and a new upper class was established, "Given these new
economic incentives, landowners and property owners were no longer content to
run subsistence operations on their haciendas; instead they sought opportunities
and maximized profits" (S+S, 45); this would later affect economics, politics
and society as a whole. Second, entry into a development period attempting a new
model of growth, focused primarily upon the creation and balance of imports and
exports. The outcomes of this period varied for different countries of Latin

America, mainly dependent upon the resources found inside their borders and the
desire of the outside world to invest within. Investment served as both the
promise and poison of this period. With the Industrial Revolution altering
production priorities around the world, less developed areas were sought to act
as a production center of natural and raw materials, "Between 1870 and 1913
the value of Britain’s investments in Latin America went from 85 million
pounds sterling to 757 million pounds in 1913 – an increase of almost