Term Paper: Economic Commission on Latin America

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ECLAC

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

The ECLAC was developed in 1948 as a network of many other UN regional commissions. The design was to stimulate the Latin American and Caribbean approaches to economic development by using studies and initiatives to promote projects.

ECLAC has been the main source of information and analysis with Latin America and the Caribbean. A subsidiary organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, it was founded for the purposes of contributing to the economic development of Latin America and to Reinforce economic relationships among the other nations of the world. Member states now stand at 39 with an additional 7 associate member states.

The organization is guided by rules that govern their purpose. These mandates include:

Reinforcing economic relationships among the member countries and with the other nations of the world;

Promoting economic and social development;

Gathering information -- organize, interpret, and distribute information about the region;

Providing advice to governments;

Promoting and executing cooperation for member country developments;

Organizing meetings, workshops, and conferences; and Communicating global concerns to the region, and regional concerns globally.

Social development was later included among ECLAC's primary objectives. Over the past fifty years, ECLAC has primarily provided research and analytical data on the social and economic state of Caribbean and Latin American countries.

ECLAC's research covers a huge range of issues. They have conducted research on topics from fishing to taxation. The ECLAC's commander-in-chief is the Secretary General, and consists of many different divisions, units, and offices for all types of information, research, and services.

Fundamental Problem

Latin American and Caribbean countries often suffer from poor economies, unaccountable leadership, and ill-prepared entry into the global marketplace.

For example, Luiz Inacio da Silva - Brazil's questionable President is viewed by the world's superpowers as a fumbling miscreant. Intemperate, socially unaccountable, and a poor international ambassador, many of the people who once saw him as Brazil's messiah now see him as Brazil's embarrassment.

Economic problems mount on a daily basis - consider the problems of the minimum wage and often socialist civil programs and policies. In order to raise a country's minimum wage, many ripple-effect factors must be taken into consideration. Typically, without a strong currency underflow, raising the minimum wage forces inevitable and catastrophic inflation. da Silva made this a campaign promise and the Brazilian raised the national minimum wage without majority approval. The results have been disastrous to the Brazilian economy.

The minimum wage is but one of several important indicia for the overall economy of a country, demonstrating a very important correlation - known in economics as indexation - between the minimum wage and per capita wealth of a country (i.e., gross international product, or GIP). In fact, the minimum wage is the result of job availability. Minimum wages are directly connected to the country's wealth. This direct correlation explains why, in some countries, the minimum wages are higher than in other countries; the wealthier the country, the higher the minimum wage valuation.

In Brazil, Jamaica, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, the minimum wage also clearly demonstrates the disparity between private-sector and government pensions. Significantly, these governments spend more to collect taxes than what they receive. These two big operational and structural problems are part of chronic government deficits. For the government, therefore, an increase in minimum wages is synonymous with increasing the operating deficit.

History of Progress

During the beginning of the organization - and with Raul Prebisch as its initiator - ECLAC's research methods were developed to include using history as a reference. They concentrated in this era with industrialization policies that had to be started in order to overcome underdevelopment and poverty.

In the 1960's, reforms and changes were made on three of the major problems of that period; industrialization, vulnerability and dependency, and Latin American overall development.

The first problem addressed the problems of an industrialization process which had followed a course that did not manage to share the modern technical progress with most of the population.

The second problem was that industrialization had not eliminated vulnerability and dependency, but had only changed its nature.

The third problem dealt with the idea that both processes were an obstruction to the overall development of Latin American countries in the 1970's and 1980's. To combat this problem, industries and exports were strengthened and employed as a tool for dealing with the difficulties of international integrations to trade with Latin America.

Continuous warnings of the risks to the region's widespread debt and the liabilities of opening critical commercial and financial ports in Latin America's southern country fueled rumors that prevented growth.

During the 80's and 90's, the ECLAC recognized that much higher growth in Latin America and the Caribbean was needed in order to reach the goal of equity, with a simultaneous increase in productivity and wages. Paired with this recognition was the awareness that fiscal principals needed to be adopted into the Latin American pact. Principals to this awareness were fiscal adjustment consolidation, an increase in public spending productivity, transparency, promotion of equity, and the democratic institution emergence.

ECLAC extended its studies and focus of development, analyzing the impact of public policies in the varying countries and changes in international trade negotiations. The ECLAC created a new vision of the environment for developed countries, and helped bring in sources of financing for major developments. Those studies were prepared and presented for the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002.

Today, the ECLAC has determined that a better integration with the rest of the world will be the best prevention against deterioration of industry, politics, social conditions, and education. With help and integration, the ECLAC's research and involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean will be a great success.

Critical Analysis

Founded in partnership with the United Nations, ECLAC is one of five similar regional commissions slated to improve the economic and social integration of Latin American and Caribbean countries. A biographical snapshot follows (see Table 1, following) designed to highlight the history of ECLAC and provide an easy method with which to compare intent with delivery.

ECLAC Appointment

Service

Country

ECLAC Accomplishments

Gustavo Mart'nez Cabanas

Executive Secretary

1948-1950

Mexico

Mr. Raul Prebisch

Executive Secretary

Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

1950- 1963

Argentina

Visible Influence in International Economic Order

Jose Antonio Mayobre

Delegated Director

Resident Representative of UN Technical Assistance Board (Central America)

1963- 1966

Venezuela

Educator

Speaker

Carlos Quintana

Director of the Industrial Development Division

1967- 1972

Mexico

Conference Delegate

Enrique V. Iglesias

ECLAC Executive Secretary Undersecretary-General Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

1972- 1985

Uruguay

Honorary Academic

Norberto Gonzalez

Executive Secretary Deputy Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Development

1985-

Argentina

Gert Rosenthal

Executive Secretary Director of the Mexico office

Deputy Executive Secretary.

1988- 1997

Guatemala

Jose Antonio Ocampo Gaviria

Executive Secretary Minister of Finance and Public Credit

United Nations' Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

1998- 2003

Colombia

Jose Luis Machinea

Executive Secretary

2003-to present

Argentina

Speaker

Table 1. ECLAC Director History

Overview

No one would argue that the responsibility for heading and reporting on a project the size of ECLAC is a big job. Again, no one would argue that the visible positioning of working for and being accountable to the United Nations is not a daily, and even daunting, process.

This same 'no one' would not argue that scholarship is not important to the emergent democracies, autocracies, and other governmental structures known to the world today. This author would not argue the advantages of study, reflection, authorship, communication, education, dissertation, and the like.

The problem emerges when the purpose does not match the product. In every situation, the ECLAC director function appears to have been - and continues to be - reams of research, mounds of manuscripts, and piles of pontification concerning what should be done, what must be done, what will be done to assist these underdeveloped countries in their quest for a higher standard of living, global market positioning, and social intertwining with other countries and their cultures.

Following are statistics on several Latin American and Caribbean countries provided here to support the thesis that the ECLAC organization is but one more time, money, and resource behemoth which produces little more actual benefit that to those working for a place in literary or educative fame.

Jamaica

Jamaica's GDP exports are alumina, bauxite; sugar, bananas, and rum, has a -2% industrial growth rate, a 16% unemployment rate, and a national debt of 5.2 trillion dollars. For an island smaller than Connecticut with a population of slightly more than 2.6 million people, the ECLAC directives - and the country's welfare - would be better served through action, not scholarship.

Guatemala country slightly smaller than Tennessee, Guatemala is a burgeoning constitutional democratic republic. Corruption is noted as one of the most severe problems within this small South American country, followed by drugs and money laundering.

With approximately 60% of the Guatemalan population living at or below the poverty… [END OF PREVIEW]

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