For those who read Spanish, the annual continent-wide poll by Latin America’s largest polling firm was just released, and is available here. The results are pretty similar to the 2008 figures (available from the same site, and critically analyzed here). The poll is usually either ignored in the mainstream or selectively analyzed in liberal publications like The Economist to see how much “support for democracy” exists among the primitive people of Latin America. Many of the most interesting findings, meanwhile, are completely neglected. A few in particular deserve mention here, since the media response to the poll is likely to follow the pattern of past years.
social democracy by regional standards. Though only about one-third of respondents in Bolivia and Venezuela said that the distribution of wealth was “fair” or “very fair” (an indication that these countries still face many obstacles to alleviating inequality), these results topped those of all other countries; Colombia, Mexico, and Peru all finished well below the regional average of 21 percent (p. 42). The results to this question, which are consistent with those of recent years, provide a tentative indication that the countries with economic models most divergent from US, World Bank, and IMF prescriptions have been relatively successful in reducing inequality. The trend of declining inequality in Venezuela and Bolivia is supported by economic indicators in the recently-released Social Panorama of Latin America published by the UN-sponsored Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. While Venezuela, Bolivia, and five other countries have reduced their GINI index of inequality by at least eight percent in the past decade, Colombia, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic are the only three countries in which inequality has increased (see pp. 11-12 in the report). At the same time, of course, the numbers highlight the enormous inequality that still exists in the region, even in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela.
more democratic countries in a region where governments have historically been extremely anti-democratic. Washington remains on the wrong side in Latin America, despite the messianic promises and expectations associated with its latest president.