U.S. History 1877-Present 1: Montesquieu
Montesquieu sure knew a thing or two about keeping things from being...askew. He argued that a separation of powers was the best way to keep tyrannical leaders from rising up, and we can thank him for inspiring our three branches of government. Or at least you can. We try not to talk to dead people.
|U.S. History||U.S. History 1877-Present|
The debt crisis of 40 years ago slapped this part of the Southern Hemisphere down,
and it’s been struggling ever since. [a man being slapped]
Of course, Latin America’s problems didn’t start in the 20th century.
Oh, no. They started with that jerk, Christopher Columbus. [Christopher Columbus on a boat]
The European colonizers who arrived in Columbus’ wake
found a land teeming with gold, silver, Starbucks… well,
that last one may have come later… But they ripped the treasure right out of the ground [a land with some slabs of gold, silver and Starbucks board]
and sent it back across the Atlantic Ocean.
In the 1800s and 1900s, multinational corporations like the United Fruit Company [a board with a sign - Property of United Fruit Company]
exploited the heck out of local laborers, all for the sake of tasty bananas…
and, you know, tasty moolah, too. [a man carrying bananas]
The economic imbalances continue today.
Do a Google search of “China and Latin America,” and you’ll find that China [a lady working on a computer]
gets lots of raw materials from countries like Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil.
But what exactly does Latin America get back from China? [an arrow pointing towards China]
Well, many people argue, “Not enough.”
And it’s always been like this; the money goes to companies and government officials, [image of note with Gracias! written on it]
and everyone else, like the real people in the country, get the shaft.
We tried to pay for a sandwich with a shaft once, and well, [2 men and a woman in a restaurant]
it didn’t work out too well.
So it’s no wonder that Latin America has the largest income inequality in the world.
There’s poverty for the many, and Ferraris for the few. [3 men standing in front of building with broken window]
And if economic problems weren’t enough drama for you,
well then, stay tuned. Latin America also seethes with political instability. [a closed door with the sign]
Corruption, corporate and foreign influence, and political violence mean
that some Latin American democracies really aren’t all that democratic. [2 men and a soldier in a room]
All of these things—economic imperialism, corruption,
a disturbing tendency to, uh… disappear dissidents… Yeah, they’re all connected, [man in a boat in the middle of the sea]
and they all suck. Throw the Latin American debt crisis on top of it,
and you can see why the region is so troubled. [man talking]
See, in the mid-20th century, developing Latin America borrowed
from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, [image of World map showing Latin America]
but then oil prices and interest rates skyrocketed, and Latin American countries
had to borrow more and more money just to keep up with their payment plans. [a man talking to a woman]
By the 1980s, the debts were too much to pay off, and it was like a really sick
and twisted game of Monopoly. Or, well just… like a game of Monopoly.
The IMF was willing to help out, so long as the countries of Latin America [2 men talking to each other]
agreed to super stringent terms. People who’d always felt like foreign governments
had way too much power in their countries now really felt that way. [2 men and a woman talking]
These same people were also unemployed, impoverished,
and dabbling in criminal activity just to make ends meet. [a police car stopping a man running away with bananas]
So, how do we finally get Latin America on the up and up?
Well, with such a toxic mix of problems, there’s no single solution that’ll fit the bill.
Free trade, multinational investment, and small-scale development [3 men and a woman standing in front of a building with broken window]
have all been kicked around as possible ways to overcome Latin America’s troubles,
and the last decade has been pretty good for the region. [man hitting a goal]
But in a place where so much has gone so wrong for so long,
a return to disaster is… well, sadly, always a possibility.