Clima en Beijing

El Testamento del Paisa

26 May, 2013

Is Latin America in danger of selling its soul?

Illustration: Satoshi Kambayashi

Travelers around the world will be well aware of the beauty, the culture and the way of life across Latin America which has attracted literally millions of visitors over the years. There is a very strong cultural presence across the region with each and every country offering an array of different experiences, different livelihoods and different ways of life. However, since the 2008 worldwide recession interest in the region from outside investors has grown significantly.

Some are now beginning to wonder whether Latin America is in danger of selling its soul and its inner culture for a few more dollars, a few more euros and a few more pounds.

Balancing economic growth with heritage

There are some very strong communities across Latin America with Portugal, Spain, the UK, the USA and an array of other countries heavily represented. When you also take into account the local cultures, local way of life and local history you have a mixing pot of unbelievable experiences. Travelers from around the world continue to make their way across the region sampling the delights, the dangers and the beauty of Latin America. However, is overseas investment beginning to have an impact?

When you look at economies such as Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia to name but a few, they have performed admirably over the last decade. The likes of Brazil have comeback from the precipice of financial collapse to become one of the strongest economies in the world and indeed the BRICS group of countries is getting stronger and stronger. But at what expense?

Selling out?

It is now common knowledge that the Chinese government, both directly and indirectly, is financing an array of governments across Latin America in exchange for access to natural resources. Many of these natural resources are located in areas of Latin America which have historically been difficult to reach although the ongoing decimation of the Amazon rain forest  the creation of enormous soy fields and even the flattening of mountains are hitting the headlines.

Even the tourist industry is becoming more and more European and North American orientated with commercialization of areas of natural beauty now more commonplace than ever before. While this is development and this is progress in many eyes, it is also creating changes to the environment, changes to the local culture and indeed changes to individual countries which can never be reversed. There is a need to balance the growing economies of Brazil, Mexico, etc with their heritage and the original reasons why so many people visit the area.

What can be done?

Big business, large-scale investors and multinational companies are more commonplace across Latin America than ever before. The Chinese government loaned Latin American governments more money than other "worldwide financial institutions" put together over the last two years. The destruction of many areas of natural beauty, the physical flattening of mountains to reach natural resources and the ongoing decimation of the Amazonian rain forest are disastrous for the region.

It is very difficult to see a short, medium or even long-term solution to this ongoing change in the region because ultimately in order to attract big business and big investment, change is required. We will need to see Latin American governments fighting back, creating more areas of natural beauty protected by the state and also ensuring that purely commercial activities do not impact the natural landscape. It will take brave politicians, it will take determined governments but ultimately we are looking at the decimation of many areas of natural beauty across Latin America which can never be reversed.

Check out the website for advice and assistance in moving to Latin America, cost of living questions and information on the standard of living.

Un homenaje al folklore y las costumbres de Antioquia La Grande!El Testamento del Paisa, Un homenaje a la raza paisa!

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