Latin America has made great strides in its efforts to reduce extreme poverty. Since 2000, poverty levels have been cut in half and in 2011 the middle class surpassed the amount of the impoverished for the first time. However, Central America and Mexico seem to be falling behind.
It’s estimated that Central America and Mexico have the most people living in extreme poverty, an average of 16 percent, and have the smallest number of people in middle class per capita.
There are many reasons why these countries remain the poorest and struggle to catch up with the rest of the Latin American countries. Issues include:
- Drug Trafficking: Drug trafficking has plagued the region with violence and corruption making it extremely difficult to allow for further growth and stability. The fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world only serves to accentuate this issue.
- Government Rivalries: From shores to waterways, El Salvador and Honduras argue over property rights constantly. Guatemala and Belize cannot come to an agreement on border control. Also, many countries are angry that Honduras and Guatemala receive more foreign aid than the others.
- Security and Trust: National security seems to be an issue for every country, including the United States. As drug consumption and trafficking are at an all time high, the Central American governments feel that the United States should be taking on more responsibility in fighting the drug cartels. Also, countries are not cooperating well due to lack of trust and corruption. An idea arose to create a database to control and track drug cartels, but the lack of trust among officials rendered it inoperable because they could not find people to run the program.
Central America needs to resolve its issues if the region wants to create and maintain economic growth and stability. It is important that the region strives to strengthen the economy, give youths hope for education, and provide opportunities to prevent them from engaging in drug trading. Also, each country must facilitate trade agreements and have better communication with one another. These changes could inevitably translate into more jobs and investments for each state.
– Taylor Schaefer
Sources: Huffington Post, Tico Times