production. This has often done in connection with major transnational firms that remain sensitive to global markets and to financial flows, linking these sectors in part into near global level of design and production, with Mexico, Brazil and Argentina playing major regional roles. However, Brazil and Argentina still have problems coordinating their production within Mercosur frameworks, and have not yet created a balanced regional productive base for small partners such as Uruguay and Paraguay (see lecture 11).
4) A partially successful strategy has been the idea of finding effective market niches in the current global system whereby some existing advantage can be utilised. For example, Dominica has been able to use low labour costs to be boost a range of non-traditional activities ranging from assembly operations and data processing to the production of seafood and flowers (Klak 1999, p114), and Costa Rica 'has benefited from the smooth flow of microelectronic products' and circuits-assembly production (Stanley & Bunnag 2001). Panama has also sought to become a major internet host for Latin America, with new optical fibre networks able to provide for 10,000 network servers (BBC 2001a). However, such niche specialisation and efforts at diversification can also lead to new vulnerabilities (see Stanley & Bunnag 2001; Klak 1999). As experienced in Jamaica when it entered the data-processing sector: -
The development prospect of this sector entails incorporating local labor and nurturing local firms to take advantage of expanding opportunities in the global data-processing industry that earns US$1 trillion yearly, of which information-processing services is a component. Mullings (1995, 1998) draws on a detailed analysis of the rise and fall of information services in Jamaica to explain why this industry, which has real potential (however narrow) for growth in employment wages, managerial expertise and backward linkages into the local economy, has stagnated in terms of all these criteria. She identifies the problem in terms of inadequate state support for local firms; continued policy steering and dampening by traditional, nondynamic private elite; investment fear on the part of foreigners; and an extremely narrow role allotted to Jamaican firms and workers by US outsourcing firms. Rather than propelling Jamaica to a heightened position in the international division of labour as the neo-liberal model predicts, the information services sector has slumped and entrenched the gender, class and international inequalities that have long characterized this peripheral capitalist nation. (Klak 1999, p116)
5) Some Latin American countries have demonstrated partial successes in the creation of grass-root organisations and a level of solidarity among the urban poor or mobilised rural groups, e.g. in parts of Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil. This has been viewed by Anibal Quijano as an alternative type or ‘reason’ that can mobilise collective effort and reciprocity (Larrain 1999, p194). At the same time, the overall ability of Latin American civil society to influence governments remains limited (Larrain 1999, p199). There are limits to how far the ‘resources of the poor’ can overcome an overall decline in local employment in dislocated communities (De La Rocha 2001). In other words, partially successful social mobilisation does not always lead to firm, long-term outcomes for the poor or indigenous groups (as in the Chiapas area of Mexico and the poor in Venezuela). Overall growth in the national economy within competitive regional and global trading conditions still remain one essential (but not sufficient by itself) factor for positive social change.