The main challenge facing Latin America is inequality despite the region undergoing a dramatic change over into democracy, it is claimed.
According to José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) the region is much more democratic than before.
Speaking at the forum of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), on the future of Latin America, he said that this is the period of its history in which Latin America has seen the most democracy.
‘There never have been more democratic governments than those existing today in Latin America, from the point of view of them being governments elected in regular, free, democratic and competitive elections,’ he said.
Nevertheless, he asserted, inequalities persist in the societies of the continent, accompanied by gender and racial discrimination, and the problem inequality in particular ‘is incompatible with democracy’.
He explained that inequality and crime represent limitations in the region ‘that prevent politics from being all that democracy wishes it to be’, giving as an example the generalised discontent among youth about a lack of access to educational opportunities, though there are immense possibilities for them.
‘Our youth delegitimise governments more and more because they don’t see how democracy is helping their lives. That is the first great challenge in Latin America,’ he declared.
He also pointed out that some nations are still precarious and weak and though elections are democratic, the exercise of democracy continues to face important risks.
Among them he mentioned a lack of freedom of expression and the excessive concentration of media organisations in the hands of a few groups; limitations in access to justice; and the tendency towards Caesarism evident in some countries of the region.
But he said that he was optimistic about the future of Latin America, a continent in which governments have grown more democratic over time and where there is more accountability. ‘Today our governments have to face the consequences much more than before,’ he concluded.