The Export Boom as Modernity

At a time when Latin American was still in the process of developing a strong, unified government, I can understand why Latin American elites would believe that they needed order to begin to create progress. However, I do not completely agree with why they thought order was difficult to achieve. The elites believed the people were not civilized enough or held the capacity to be able to live under a democracy and be a part of the modern rule. While it is hard for me to say if that is true or not, I think the lack of order was not solely due to the people being “uncivilized”, but largely because of the significant differences between the groups of people in Latin America. Before the export boom, there were limited ways to travel to different areas, making the people geographically divided. The interests of groups also varied greatly depending on their occupation or place in society. These factors made an already difficult task of creating order and seeing progress even harder, struggling to find a system that agrees with the majority of parties.

It was interesting to read about how the export boom helped actualize Latin American progress and the debates over whether it was beneficial progress. I was specifically intrigued by the differences between Raul Prebisch and modern-day contemporary economic historians because I thought they both make valid arguments.

Prebisch argued “Latin America simply replaced on colonial master with others at independence”. While this is an extreme statement, it has a point in that Latin America put the livelihood of its economy into the hands of foreign countries, making it extremely vulnerable to a serious downfall. The statistic that astounded me the most was that foreign countries held up to fifty percent of capital in some Latin American countries. While details like that are expected to generate a negative outlook on foreign control during the economic boom, the fact remains that Latin America’s lack of capital and domestic markets put them in a situation where they needed outside support in order to see economic growth. With foreign capital, Latin American countries were finally able to build effective ways to travel, communicate, and create a society with the beginnings of a centralized government and law system.

Even though the impact of foreign interactions was not equally positive across Latin America, it is difficult to deny that, overall, it jumpstarted progress that would not have been obtained on their own.

1 thought on “The Export Boom as Modernity

  1. yusuke sakanashi

    I liked your observation on the argument that Prebisch made, which he stated that Latin American economy was at the hands of foreign countries. I believe that this problem still exists among nations in poverty and developing nations.


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