Courtesy Reuters

The 1980s have been difficult years for the countries of Latin America. They have seemed to take one step forward and two steps back on many fronts. The return of democracy to the region has been heartening, but governance has proved difficult. Economically, many call this the lost decade for Latin America. U.S. policy has been helpful in some respects, but notably frustrated, and frustrating, in others. The next few years will be particularly challenging if Latin Americans are to change the pattern of the past.

Fortune looked favorably on Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, then turned her back in this decade. Economic growth rates averaged six percent for the region in the 1970s but have been minimal in the 1980s, while populations have continued to increase. In 1988 Latin America's gross product grew by less than one percent, and per capita income, down one-and-a-half percent, has shrunk

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  • Margaret Daly Hayes is a political scientist and External Relations Advisor at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington. She is the author of Latin America and the U.S. National Interest. The views presented in this article are personal and should not be construed as representing opinions of the bank.
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