Over the past few years, some issues such as colonization, environmental issues, migration, corruption, and terrorism have emerged and marked the present and future of the region. Colonization, discovery, and conquest of South America was a phenomenon of capitalism and was motivated by the interests of the bourgeoisie from Spain and Portugal over pre-Columbian indigenous peoples.
The exploitation of gold and silver in the New World represented one of the fundamental factors in the original accumulation of capital and in the extraordinary growth of productive forces contributing to the definitive triumph of the bourgeoisie which resulted in a heterogeneous social order based primarily on slavery and servitude. Following the book, The Diario of Cristopher Columbus First Voyage to America “I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold; and I saw that some of them wore a little piece hung in a hole that they have in their noses.
And by signs I was able to understand that, going to the south or rounding the island to the south, there was a king who had large vessels of it and had very much gold”. (Columbus, 1492-1493). Certainly, colonization meant a huge political and legal change because Christianity was imposed over pre-Hispanic religions, Spanish became the official language of the region, the great empires such as the Inca, Maya, and Aztec forgot their customs, and the king of Spain became the highest authority. But this changed with the independence of the region and the implementation of democracy.
Nowadays, the impact of colonization was the mixing of races, the construction of bridges, roads, and railways. The colonial distribution resulted in the creation of artificial borders that divided or unified ethnics and tribal groups. This created destabilization that in some areas meant the start of clashes and wars and the consequences are part of our current reality. The impact of European culture caused the phenomenon of acculturation which destroyed the identity of indigenous cultures and disrupted religious traditions and beliefs.
Environmental issues such as air pollution and deforestation are the largest issues at hand. Deforestation in the Amazon is happening at alarming rates and is happening due to cattle ranchers flattening the forest for grazing land. The Amazon rainforest is a carbon sink. It is responsible for sequestering carbon.
Environmental issues in the region result in art and cultural change because deforestation of the Amazon entails the destruction of the natural habitat of human communities that have lived in harmony in the jungle for thousands of years. The area of influence of indigenous tribes is constantly reduced and, in many cases, they are forced to live in reserves controlled and managed by local governments. The mobilization of human groups from their original lands to others leads to the disappearance of their culture, traditions, and art.
According to the book Huasipungo “The use of the native language, the impetus of traditional techniques for the production of basic food, constitute almost the only social force-carrying ancestral traditions” (Icaza, 1960). Undoubtedly, the present and future impact of this problem lead to the destruction of one of the most important natural heritage we have on the planet and the destruction of biodiversity. Also, Amazon has a lower capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere due to deforestation.
Migration is a situation that changed the region’s reality. Following the book of unknown Americans “Have you ever wondered why people cross the border? Perhaps the instinct of every immigrant, an impulse born of necessity or desire” (Henriquez, 2014). Venezuela’s social, economic, and political crisis is no longer a local problem, it has become a region-wide problem.
In recent years, the migration of Venezuela exceeds millions of people and has put at risk the governments of South America causing an overflow in local systems and even generating xenophobia. This mass movement of people have implied an economic change and innovation in business because there are not enough jobs, the region’s health system is insufficient, immigrants accept a lower wage than the minimum, and due to the increase in population, there is a greater need for food and basic services.
On the other hand, Venezuelan migrant populations bring innovation in business because the majority of them are young and have a different vision and culture introducing good ideas and solutions for the region. However, the present and future impact of this issue is foreign exchange control, expropriations of productive companies, price control, production control of private companies, increase in tax collection, a central bank without autonomy that stopped publishing macroeconomic statistics, unlimited credit, money without support, and militarization of public power.
Corruption and massive scandals involve countries in South America like Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. In the last months of 2019, there were clashes on the streets of Bolivia over accusations of electoral fraud, in Chile over inequality, and in Ecuador about the elimination of fuel subsidies. While the Peruvian representative, Martín Vizcarra, dissolved Congress in the middle of a long political crisis over corruption.
Civil protests erupted across the continent over corruption and austerity measures as a result of IMF loans in Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. Brazil is under a right-wing government under ex-army man Bolsonaro and, at the same time, they are involved in the corruption scandal nicknamed Operation Car Wash meanwhile Argentina is facing its largest debt crisis. All these conditions led to the people no longer trusting the democratic institutions and the government.
According to the book Our America “He knows nothing of the giants in seven-league boots who can crush him underfoot, the battling comets in the heavens which devour the worlds that lie sleeping in their paths. Whatever is left in America of such drowsy provincialism must awaken. These are not times for lying comfortably in bed” (Marti, 1891). Corruption issues in the region are the result of a political and legal change. The growing popular discontent led to a series of social chaos that changed the direction of numerous governments in the region (Ecuador stopped their adjustment plan and Chile initiated a constitutional change process).
From a political point of view, many of South American governments have little social leadership (Chile), face a new economic crisis of enormous magnitude (Argentina), are in the final stretch of their mandates (Peru and Ecuador), face a highly conflicting election campaign (Bolivia), and Venezuela is among the 20th least prepared nations to face the spread of an epidemic. The present and future impact of this issue is the malfunction of public services such as health, education, transport, and citizen security leading to crime and armed groups.
Terrorism or drug trafficking concerning to the far-left guerrillas who produced the drug, organized crime cartels responsible for transporting, refining it, and distributing it to the final consumer is the biggest threat in the continent. These activities implicate a political and legal change because Soviet- and Cuban-inspired Marxism is the ideology of drug traffickers, groups that saturate societies with drugs to corrupt them intending to triumph the communist revolution.
Its political objective was to corrupt the state and gain financial advantages. According to the book Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot “No revolution has succeeded in bringing prosperity to Latin America. It has only brought corruption, dictatorship, and privileges to the ruling caste at the expense of the population mired in poverty” (Mendoza 1996).
Finally, the present and future impact of this issue are the deaths and destruction caused by this global evil have a direct effect on the region’s economy and tourism. But not everything is dark, on September 26, 2016, President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the leader of the Guerrilla Forces of the Revolutionary Arms of Colombia (FARC) signed an agreement in Cartagena, Colombia to end an armed conflict that exceeded half a century and had caused tens of thousands of deaths, missing, and displaced people.