New World Optimism: How The U.S. Can Support A Thriving Latin America

U.S. Border Patrol patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez. A July Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News Border Poll says a majority of residents surveyed on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are against the building of a wall between the two countries. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)
U.S. Border Patrol patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez. A July Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News Border Poll says a majority of residents surveyed on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are against the building of a wall between the two countries. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

If you have been following your newsfeed over the past year, you might be forgiven for believing that Latin America is a wreck. Venezuela has descended into a socialist nightmare. Zika spreads across Central America and South America. Cartel violence ravages Mexico. To the casual observer, it must seem like things couldn’t get any worse.

If you look past the headlines and into the data, the surprising truth emerges: In many respects, times have never been better for Latin America. Since the early 1990s, many of the civil wars and internal conflicts that plagued the region for decades have come to a close. Unprecedented peace has developed alongside a growing interest in economic liberalization: reforms in countries like Peru, Colombia and Panama have pulled millions of Latin Americans out of poverty. A new trade bloc stretching from Chile to Mexico—the Pacific Alliance—has united much of the region in the pursuit of free trade and free movement. Where functioning democracies were once a rare sight in the region, stable democracies and strong civil liberties are increasingly the norm in Latin America.

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