Latin America is one of the richest regions in human and natural resources in the world with a population of approximately 590 million people1. Controversially, there are 211 million people living in poverty2. This represents almost 50 percent of the population. According to the World Bank "the richest one-tenth of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean earn 48 percent of total income, while the poorest tenth earn only 1.6 percent3. This gap between rich and poor makes Latin America one of the most unequal regions of the world. But, how come in such a wealthy region of the world people can be so poor? Historically, the socio-economic and political development of Latin American countries has been highly controversial and complex, and it does not rely on a single factor but rather many. Considering the factors beyond the social development of Latin American countries leads us to the underlying questioning of state agency: why they have not been able to exploit their potential and develop? That is why we will have to ponder whether it is due to a problem of inefficiency; and therefore a consequence of internal defaults or rather a matter of autonomy; that would be the cause of external pressures?
Thus, in this essay, given that the common vector of Latin American countries is a long tradition of exclusionary politics, that is reflected in the socio-economic underdevelopment. I will deal with the deficiencies of political culture and argue that, the creation of new political values through participation remains the key in order to achieve a more even development in Latin America. That is why I will uphold that political values of state elites have been shaping foreign and domestic policy for decades, bringing as a result, poverty and inequality for the majority of Latin Americans. Consequently development cannot be solved by a recipe of policies but depends and requires a process of political awakening and awareness.
To do so, I will first briefly explore the external factors and how historically they have been influencing the development agenda of most Latin American countries. Moreover, I will argue that external factors alone cannot be blamed for the mismanagement of the resources of Latin American countries. The role of the state is one of a decision-maker that significantly protects or enhances and thus responsible or irresponsible decisions respectively lead to positive or negative outcomes even when responding to external pressures. Therefore, I will point out the connection between domestic and international actors. However, I will not emphasize only on the external as the main causes of the underdevelopment in Latin America; instead, I will focus more on the role of political values of Latin American rulers that kept Latin American people underdeveloped. I will argue that there is a need of inclusion in order to change the old patterns in which development policies have been carrying out. I will do this, by comparing two countries with different socio-economic capacities to respond to the external threats, Brazil as one of the biggest and Bolivia as a small country in the Andean region, and one of the poorest in Latin America. But that regardless their socioeconomic status, they shared a common issue, namely political antagonism. Eventually, the comparison will cast light on the recent and precipitate change in Bolivia will lead me to show the importance of the creation of a political culture in creating the conditions for successful development outcomes.
Throughout the Cold War period, the development path of Latin American countries has been highly influenced by external forces which managed to associate their political aims with poverty eradication and economic aid4. As a result, political goals of industrialised countries have been shaping, directly and indirectly, the socio-economic Latin American…