Which economic and social policies in Latin America today ?

Anouk Guiné's picture
Call for Papers
October 11, 2018 to October 12, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Economic History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Human Rights, Indigenous Studies

The macroeconomic development and maturity of Latin America is a fact. According to the last report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/ United Nations, 2017), a two per cent economic growth has been announced for the region during 2018, thanks to the dynamism of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. This boost is also due to world scale commercial growth and an increase in the prices of exported raw materials (partly because of higher U.S. military spending in some metals). Moreover, compared to 2017, there will be more foreign investment in the manufacturing sector of dominant economies, in renewable energies of Peru, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, metal mining and other natural resources of several countries, and tourism in Central America.

Nevertheless, it is still necessary to ask whether Latin American governments connect economic growth to social justice and wellbeing. Has the growing of tax collection and the spending capacity of governments that derive from economic growth been accompanied by an effective redistribution of resources in order to improve the quality of life of citizens in terms of access to healthcare, education and housing? And if growth means more production and growth in labor as well, how do we explain that urban unemployment rate reached 9,4% in 2017, according to the ECLAC. In addition, in those Latin American countries where neoliberal policies are implemented, the mining and natural resources extraction industry is in the hands of transnationals whose interests are protected and defended by the State of the country where they invest. This is practiced through a strong police and military repression to impede such extraction. For instance, recently in Cajamarca (Peru) citizens organized collective action against the disappearance of natural lakes (due to the high quantity of water needed by the mining companies), the confiscation of land where local populations live, and the contamination of waters that provoke serious health damage to children, women and men, but also to the animals belonging to the peasant communities.

Brazil and Peru are the most dangerous Latin American countries for indigenous people who defend their lands and environment (Global Witness, 2014). Since August 31st, 2016, when President Dilma Roussef was ousted without legal basis, 76 persons have been killed in the Amazonian forest due to land conflicts (Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) & Rede Eclesial Pan-Amazônica (REPAM), 2017). Between 2002 and 2014, 57 persons were killed in Peru where 80% of these crimes happen in the extractive sector with 40 people have been assassinated in over a decade. Similarly, between 2012 and 2014, 5 Ashaninka men died in the Peruvian Amazon region while they were trying to impede illegal logging. In 2014, a Shuar man from Ecuador was also killed for fighting against the exploitation of gold and copper. This situation led several Canadian, U.S. and European transnationals to sell their companies to the Chinese whose investments are growing in the region. Moreover, the Latin American State security forces protect their impunity if they have to use violence against pacific citizens. These asymmetrical wars between humiliated citizens and states, that are worried about defending the interests of transnational companies in detriment to the environment and the poorest populations of Latin America, correspond to a neoliberal order within the framework of coloniality of power (Quijano, 2007).

Economic growth is separated from social wellbeing, and the economic and political elites defend their own interests according to policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in order to reduce the role of the State. This is also expressed in the privatization of the health, education and labor sectors, which means a feminization of poverty since women are the most affected. The so-called social conflicts are numerous in the region, and social movements are growing within peasant, indigenous, student, worker and women’s sectors. In post-conflict societies such as Colombia and Peru, and in the ones that have known military dictatorships coordinated and financed by the U.S. in the 1960s and 70s, like Chile, Brazil and Argentina, among others, these social movements are criminalized by state forces and mainstream media. In countries with dynamic economies such as Mexico, the criminalization of protest has reached high levels of state violence as in the case of the killing and disappearance of 43 students, Ayotzinapa, in 2014. In this sense, we will also explore the way supposed processes of « peace » and « reconciliation » are articulated in neoliberal policies. We will also look at the capacity of the « pink tide » countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela for instance, to connect economic growth and social development.


A brief CV and an abstract of no more than 300 words will be sent in French, Spanish or Portuguese before June 15th 2018 to the following email address: colloqueamlatlehavre2018@gmail.com

Venue: Faculté des Affaires Internationales, Université Le Havre Normandie, France.

Date: 11-12 October 2018

Organizing Committee: Susana Bleil (Université du Havre) ; Cindy Cevallos (Université de Cadix) ; Roxana de Filippis (Université du Havre) ; Anouk Guiné (Université du Havre) ; Lissell Quiroz (Université de Rouen) ; Hélène Rabaey (Université du Havre) ; Nadia Tahir (Université de Caen).

Contact Info: 

Anouk Guiné, Susana Bleil, Hélène Rabaey

Université Le Havre Normandie

Faculté des Affaires Internationales

Groupe de Recherche Identités et Cultures (GRIC)

25 rue Lebon

76600 Le Havre