WE are on the threshold of a new era in the economic development of Latin America. The newly awakened aspirations for a better standard of living of a fast-growing population cannot be satisfied by our inadequate economic system, which today is as dated as the Model T Ford. In order to make more efficient use of our natural resources we must apply technicology to agriculture, develop sound industrialization and create a common market, without which any program for development of agriculture and industry would have very limited possibilities.
To understand why a common or regional market is an essential part of a master plan for the acceleration of our economic growth we must look backward for a moment. After World War II the economic development of Latin America was progressing at a highly satisfactory rate; over-all production, income and consumption showed a constant upward trend. Economic growth during the decade 1945-1954 exceeded the United States performance for the same period. In the United States the gross national product increased about 30 percent, while that of Latin America rose 50 percent. Although the population of Latin America increased by 24 percent in the same decade (compared to 16 percent in the United States), nevertheless the availability of goods and services grew substantially even on a per capita basis.
We were able to attain this remarkable rate of economic development in spite of the fact that we are mostly producers and exporters of raw materials and foodstuffs. There were two principal reasons: first, with the war came a tremendous demand for our raw materials at prices unheard of in the past; and second, we were at last--through education, sanitation and better communications--breaking away from retarding factors of a social, cultural and geographical nature that for centuries had kept our economic growth at a painfully slow pace.
Unhappily, we have not been able to maintain this rate of development beyond the first postwar decade. In 1956 the rate of economic growth slowed down and gross income increased no faster
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