Some of the governments are truly in economic distress and areunable to help there impoverished millions. One of the things responsible for this poverty is the unevendistribution of land and wealth that persists in most Latin Americancountries today, which has caused Latin America to exhibit the highestindex of concentrated accumulation of rural property in the world. Lessthan one-half percent of the population in Latin America has too muchland, while more than half of the adult farmers in Latin America have noland at all. Most of countries have done little or nothing to change theirsituations. The reforms that have been or are being attempted by thegovernment and the wealthy population have had no effect on changing theexisting distribution of agricultural. Most rural Latin Americans continuetosuffer from unemployment, low income, and a lack of education.
-2-Production of food in Mexico has diminished causing food prices torise. The people of Mexico must import grains into the country in order tofeed itself. The rapid growth and transformation that has occurred over theyears has left the majority of the population in poverty. The country mustimport most of the food it consumes. The government and foreign policyhas encouraged farmers to grow export crops rather than the badly neededcorn and grains that the country needs to feed itself, while at the same timethese policies penalize the internal production of food. Unfortunately, theonly true beneficiaries of this foreign policy are the affluent one-third ofthepopulation.
The remaining two-thirds of the population are forced to bearthe consequences. Poverty in Mexico has become a big problem. Forty percent of thosethat want to work in the Mexican province of Zacatecas are unemployedcausing them to migrate to other Mexican provinces or to the United States. Many migrate to Mexico City, where most of its residents live insubstandard housing and nearly half have no running water.
The corruptionin the government allows the wealthy to buy there way around regulationsto improve the housing, while the poor are powerless and are left to sufferthe consequences. Some arrive in Mexico City and live in cardboard boxesand forage for food in the garbage dumps. For those employed, wages arelow and working conditions are bad. -3-Neza, Mexico’s fourth largest city encounters similar problems. It is aslum without sewers, running water, paved roads or public telephones. Theunsanitary conditions of this city, due to lack of toilets and polluted air,gives rise to diseases.
Diarrhea kills more people than cancer or heartattacks and most have no medical coverage. The lack of public policy forthese people allows them to suffer this unpleasant fate. Most families leavethere rural farms because of lack of irrigation or other problems that makethem unable to sustain themselves. Their search for a better life in thecitiesleaves them only slightly more impoverished than before. For most, itdoesn’t get any better.
Another example of poverty in Latin America today can be seen inHonduras, where poverty has caused a famine that is threatening the lives ofmany Honduran families. Drought, population growth, and foreign policyare all contributors to the cause of the famine. The highest populationgrowth in the southern hemisphere can be found in Honduras. Theconsequences of the nations poverty has caused over fifty percent of thecountries four and a half million people to suffer from malnutrition.
Thecountry is unable to even feed it’s children. The statistics of childmortalitydue to malnutrition is one out of seven. Many children die from suchsimple ailments as diarrhea or lung infections. -4-In Brazil the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is worse thanIndia. Seventy percent of the wealth in Brazil is controlled by ten percentofthe population.
The cities are filled with urban workers that have come tothe cities looking for a better life but finding poverty instead. Forexample,in the Brazilian city of San Paulo, one million of its seventeen millionpeople remain unemployed. Land is expensive, squatting is difficult andevictions are common. Furthermore, the problem of poverty in Brazil is so great that childlabor is completely excepted within the society. Workers are paid so littleand the standard of living is so high that in order for a family to survivethree people must be working. The parents of these children are unable tocomplain because most families would collapse without working children.
Children are an indispensable part of the work force and they are paid one-third less than adult workers. The poverty that promotes this exploitation isnot limited to urban children many rural children are put to work in thefields at age ten. Parents even put their little girls out to begin a lifeprostitution as young as 12 years old. The poverty is so great in thiscountry that the morals of the society have excepted this abuse of theirnations children.
-5-Haiti is the poorest nation in Latin America. Four out of five Haitianssuffer from poverty, while another three out of five Haitians areunemployed and three out of four are illiterate. The population growth thatis occurring cannot be sustained by the countries eroded soil and deforestedlands. The weak economy has caused many Haitians to migrate into theDominican Republic where they are discriminated against and treated likeslaves. Those that migrate to the Dominican Republic have no chance ofachieving anything less than poverty.
They cannot escape their fate andthey continue to constitute the poor population of the Dominican Republic. Many of these countries could better serve their poor by changingeconomic policies and preventing the exploitation of workers and children. However, the impoverished people of these countries, while they make upthe majority, are under represented by the government. Therefore, they willmost likely continue to endure their current misfortune.
While the roots andcauses for the poverty in these countries vary, the results are the same,millions of underprivileged citizens, and a government and oligarchy that isunable or unwilling to respond to their cry for help. The dissipation of theproblem of poverty is surely the greatest challenge faced by Latin Americastoday.