problematic for many cities in the region (see Nunan & Satterthwaite 2001). Even a Chile, a country with strong economic and democratic credentials, the success of the country has been based on a highly extractive approach to resources, an approach only being modified in recent years, with the economy based on mining, extraction of forest resources, intensive agricultural and fishing patterns, with some shift to fish farming and plantation timbre (for a critique, see Carruthers 2001). Likewise, in Ecuador, in spite of the wealth boom promised by increased oil exports, there were controversies over a lack of community consultation and environmental assessments into major new pipelines, leading to severe political turmoil and intense bargaining over these issues through 1993-2004 (see Barthélémy 2003), though this has been partly modified through the new use of new pipeline technologies.
3. Leverage Towards a Better Future
It can therefore be argued that continued transition is required in the Latin American context. It is important that this transition be guided both towards sustainable social costs and towards genuinely productive outcomes. Here, certain key areas of investment and political management may help maximise human outcomes in the 21st century. These areas of leverage include: -
1) Continued investment in education, both in the technical/professional areas and the general awareness of populations who need to become 'stakeholders' in their national futures even during times of instability. Education does not automatically guarantee political reform, e.g. Argentina and Chile had some of the highest educational levels in the region but still succumbed to military dictatorships in the 1970s (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p399). Nonetheless, educational gaps remains problematic for the development of all the poor nations of Latin America, and even remains a problem in Brazil, where highly uneven patterns of education are found (Gordon 2001, p133). Pessimism about the future of these nations, especially among the middle class and educated groups, can make it very hard to mobilise the social resources needed to ensure a better future.
2) Demographic transition will also continue to have a selective effect on Latin America. In the past, rapid population growth may have been needed to build viable nations, but soon became a major burden on the resilience of nations to provide infrastructure, resources and education to their growing populations, e.g. in Brazil and Mexico. Today, birth rates have begun to slow throughout much of the region, especially in urban areas. Thus population growth rate for Brazil fell from 2.0 percent in 1980-1990 to 1.4 percent in 1997, while in Mexico growth rates declined from 2.3 to 1.8 percent (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p412). Basically, urbanisation, increased living standards (or the aspiration to them), and education will be likely to continue to restrain growth rates. However, a large number of young people are now trying to flow into the workforces, creating an enormous challenge that will not be fully met by developing economies of the region in terms of full-time, stable employment. For example, in Mexico about 1.4 million new job seekers join the labour market every year, but in the best of years perhaps only about 1 million new jobs can be generated (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p412).