The current rates of economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean are insufficient to beat poverty and guarantee equal rights, so countries must urgently increase productivity and diversify their productive structures, Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, said today during the Ricardo Torres Gaitán Lecture given at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in Mexico City.
Despite the economic and social progress made in the last decade, today’s complex external context poses new challenges, said the most senior representative of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). A moderate recovery in regional growth is estimated for 2015 (a 2.2 % increase in gross domestic product), while regional exports have stagnated since 2012.
“Development with equality implies overcoming structural gaps in job-related, educational, social, physical and fiscal matters,” said Bárcena, who called on countries to forge social pacts to carry out needed institutional reforms with a long-term strategic perspective.
The senior official said that “pacts on investment and productivity are needed, now more than ever,” in addition to other measures such as the expansion of countercyclical macroeconomic policies and the strengthening of regional integration.
On Thursday, February 12, Bárcena also participated in the second debate forum “Globalization in the World: Unlimited Possibilities and Necessary Limits,” organized by UNAM’s National School of Higher Studies, Unidad León, in Guanajuato state.
In a world that is increasingly interdependent and affected by combined crises, Latin America and the Caribbean needs to make its productive structure more diversified and complex, creating a network of industries and productive chains that add value and put them at the cutting edge of knowledge, the Executive Secretary told an audience made up mostly of students.
“Starting from there, it is possible to fuel an increase in employment, well-being and social inclusion and a symmetrical, non-subordinated relationship with the international system. In this stage of capitalism, technological development is the most important source of power and it is linked to information technology activities that make domination structures more efficient and even extend to culture, entertainment and social relations,” she said.
Other participants in the event included Ángel Gabilondo, former Education Minister of Spain and current professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Language Arts at the Autonomous University of Madrid; Rolando Cordera, Professor Emeritus at UNAM; Mario Luis Fuentes Alcalá, Director of the Center for Studies and Research on Development and Social Welfare; Leonardo Lomelí, Director of the Faculty of Economics at UNAM; and Javier de la Fuente, Director of the National School of Higher Studies, Unidad León, with UNAM’s Rector, José Narro, as moderator.
“Rising inequality is not inevitable, inequality is not a natural process. It is possible to tackle it with clear public policies, but this implies breaking with the paradigm of wealth concentration,” Bárcena said, adding that “we have not been capable of establishing a culture of equality, solidarity and collective action, which is the only thing that will be able to save us from the planet’s serious problems.”