Reasons for Optimism in Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean: Part 2

In this two-part series, we cover the Latin American and Caribbean regions of the world. Part 1 reviewed the challenge areas that exist. For today’s Part 2, we will discuss the areas of positive development and opportunity.

Despite the enunciated challenges that Latin America and the Caribbean face, this region of the world has recorded tremendous growth that is unarguably enviable. Battling the odds, the region has enjoyed bouts of growth economically, spreading through job creation and poverty alleviation down to elimination of acute hunger. Let us examine these glowing positives.


For two solid years, the economy of Latin America and the Caribbean was experiencing an economic contraction. In the year 2016, economic growth in this region dropped to its lowest in almost three decades. Most notable of the previous economic degradation was the contraction of 1% recorded in 2015 as fiscal policies adjustments and dropping commodity prices took their toll on the region.

However, 2017 saw a positive turn around with the economy returning to the path of health. Reports from the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP), showed the economy of the region growing with Gross Domestic Product estimated to increase to 2.9% by 2018 after recording a growth of 2.7% in 2017. Growth has been fostered by rebounding commodity prices with increased political stability on the global level.

Employment and Poverty

The region is also recovering from a bad run of job losses. The contracting economy had clamped heavily on job creation while even threatening existing ones. But 2017 was encouraging and positive. An increased dynamism for example in the Brazil labor force, owing to favorable government policies, created a burst of jobs, lifting many among the 18 million Brazilians still clasped in poverty.

Columbia is another case of increased job creation in the region. Before now, one in three households in Colombia were vulnerable to poverty and exposed to lack of basic survival amenities. However, of late, labor income in this nation, as well as general labor participation, have been on an impressive rise. This has greatly alleviated poverty and unemployment in the region.

In Paraguay, there was a great growth leap in the income of bottom forty percent of the nation’s income distribution. While Peru over the last ten years have been enjoying judicious poverty alleviation with the nation now having just one-third of its total population stuck in rural areas in extreme poverty.

Food Security

The percentage of people suffering hunger dropped drastically to 5.5% with the total count now vigorously dropped to less than 34 million. This great feat to conquer this lingering issue was set by the World Food Summit (WFS).  This Millennium Development (hunger) Goal was set as far as 1992 when 14.7% of the population of this region languished in hunger. These are aftermaths of an impressive economic resurgence and political improvements as well as an increase in security.

This growth can be primarily attributed to the success recorded via the intense commitment of the Southern Cone countries and the region at large. Altogether, 11 nations in this region reached the World Food Summit (WFS) target while 17 nations achieved the MDG (hunger goal) marking the best performance by any region in the world.

“The region’s success story is based on the positive macroeconomic situation during the past two decades and the solid and continued political commitment of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean with the eradication of hunger,” said Raul Benitez, FAO’s Regional Representative.

Certainly, this is just the beginning as more is set to come from this region that would stun and encourage the world. The growth looks set to be continuous with further leaps expected from other parastatal of the region.


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