Much of Latin America has experienced a renewed ‘lost decade’, failing to substantially expand quality of life since the late 2000s. While the outcomes of governance performance across the largest countries – including Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina – have discrete causes, common themes like internal conflict, corruption, and overreliance on natural resources plague the entire region. Put more generally, the inability to turn democratic accountability into a state mechanism able to deliver economic growth and public goods in a sustainable manner is a liability affecting all five countries. To explore the difficulties that the large Latin American countries have faced in the twenty-first century, this article examines results from the 2022 Berggruen Governance Index, and then presents three key issues facing the region: insufficient state capacity, flirtations with authoritarianism, and economic inequality and inflation. While the challenges remain substantial, increased regional integration may offer one way out of the predicament.
Photo by Kevin Gamba