Amid the blizzard of speeches and declarations emerging from the Americas Conference on Latin America and the Caribbean, one theme emerged: The region has weathered the economic crisis better than most parts of the world and is poised for a robust recovery.
That's a dramatic reversal of past performance, when downturns in the world economy produced economic and political chaos throughout the region.
The collapse of commodity prices in the 1970s helped to usher in a decade of political upheaval across Central America. In Peru in the 1980s, hyperinflation destroyed the economy and nourished the growth of the Shining Path insurgency until well into the next decade.
Every regressive cycle that has undermined the world economy in the past would plunge the region into a tailspin that also affected South Florida. Reduced trade and tourism hurt the local economy; the influx of immigration raised demand for public services.
This time, the news is what did not happen. No big wave of hyperinflation, credit defaults, devaluations or capital flight, and no political instability growing out of the economic down cycle — except, of course, for the political machinations of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.
As World Bank economist Augusto de la Torre told the conference last week, "The region is coming out of the crisis without systemic damage and well-positioned for faster growth."
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