Peru narrowly dodged a bullet on June 4 when centrist Alan Garcia defeated Ollanta Humala, a radical anti-U.S. demagogue, by an uncomfortably narrow margin. Humala was threatening to pull Peru back from the global economy, install a more authoritarian regime and ally himself with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
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In politics, the interpretation of facts is often more consequential than the facts themselves. Many political pundits who had hailed the PT as the undisputed winner in the first round of Brazil’s municipal elections did an abrupt about face as soon as the run-off results started streaming in.
Brazil’s economic prospects for 2004, and even for 2005, have been upgraded. Recently reported second quarter results showed higher growth than had been projected. Growth soared 5.7% compared with the second quarter of last year—the bottom of the recession.
In early May, we had the opportunity to visit El Salvador. Had we gone ten or fifteen years ago, we would have talked with generals and military advisors about guerrillas, death squads, military aid and democracy.
For a developing nation to achieve recognized and respected first-world status, three basic institutional reforms are necessary -- economic, political and legal. Each of these reforms requires openness, transparency and fairness.