Poverty and the "Free Market"
The journal South and the United Nations publication
Report on Human Development describe the effect on people of the "free-market" as imposed by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) on several countries in
South America as a condition for loans.
Brazil has the world's 8th largest economy, enormous natural wealth, no security concerns, a favourable climate and a reasonably
homogenous population. According to the reports:
- 32% of the population lives below the poverty line.
- The country has an education system that compares unfavourably with poorer nations like Pakistan and Ethiopia, with 80% of children having to drop out of primary (elementary) school.
- Two thirds of the population fail to get enough to eat; 40% of the population (more than 52 million people) suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The country's Health Ministry estimates that hundreds of thousands of children die of hunger every year.
- The child mortality rate is higher than in Sri Lanka.
- The literacy rate is lower than in Paraguay and worse than in many poor African countries.
- Fewer children are vaccinated than in Tanzania and Botswana, the former nation the subject of a concerted attempt by the USA to change its economy in line with that of Brazil!)
- Seven million abandoned children live on the streets, begging, stealing and sniffing glue. Amnesty International reports that death squads (often run by the police) kill about one street child per day, and beat many more.
- Millions live in shacks.
- Brazil is ranked 80th in the world in general welfare (education, health, hygene) - close to Albania and Thailand.
These events are happening 25 years after the Brazilian military took power in a coup described at the time by
the USA Ambassador, Lincoln Gordon, as "the single most decisive victory of freedom
in the mid-twentieth century". Once the democratic government had been removed the USA supported and financed the new regime and praised
its economic policies, saying that they created "a greatly improved climate for private investment".
At one time, Argentina was one of the ten richest countries in the world. It has abundant resources, a rich coast line, and a
homogenous population. According to reports:
- One third of its 31 million population lives below the poverty line.
- Around 18,000 children die each year before their first birthday, most from preventable deseases and malnutrition.
In oil rich Venezuela, reports say:
- Over 40% of the populatiuon live in extreme poverty.
- Malnutrition is too common to be noted in medical histories.
- According to the country's Ministry of Health, 170,000 women are forced to live by prostitution. Child prostitution is on the rise.
Chile had its democratically elected governmnet removed by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973. The
- Between 1973 and 1989, Chile had a stable population of 12 million yet the number of poor rose from 1 million to 7 million.
- Environmental degredation has caused half the country to become a desert. Polution has reached dangerous levels in the capital, Santiago, with high levels of heavy metals in the water supply.
- One in three children has parasites. Hepatitis (a liver ailment) is common.
Antonio Garza Morales writing in the magazine, Excelsior, remarks that
"the social cost which has been paid by the Chilean people is the highest in Latin America".
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