What Latin America needs:
I’ve said it before, and will continue saying it: What Latin America needs is the rule of law and property rights. I agree wholeheartedly with Alejandro Chafuen:
The real problem in Latin America is that, with few exceptions, the rule of law — particularly on private property rights — doesn’t exist as we know it.
Chaufen states (emphasis mine),
When the rule of law is weak and there is no respect for private property, efforts to promote free trade — and thereby spur economic growth and reduce poverty — are dubious at best. It is difficult to promote trade and investment in a country whose legal institutions are weak and corrupt; the risks are too great.
The results begin to show. Despite Latin American economic growth rates averaging more than 5 percent in 2004 and similar growth anticipated this year, “capital flows” are negative, meaning more money leaves than enters the region. This is not due to foreign debt but a continued lack of confidence among long-term investors. Not surprisingly, as Latin America expert Andres Oppenheimer has noted, “only 1 percent of the world’s investment in research and development currently goes to Latin America.”
If economic progress is the goal, the U.S. government and multilateral institutions like the World Bank need to push the region to take legal reform seriously. Every country in the region needs a legal system and regulatory environment that defines and protects property rights.
The institutions for such an environment simply aren’t there.
I recommend that you read not only the article, but Hernando de Soto’s and Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s books on the subject: