Inequality in Latin America Essay

3160 Words Nov 28th, 2013 13 Pages
Although Latin America has faced many social, political, and economic issues within the last three centuries, inequality remains one of the most important, historical, and omnipresent aspects of the region’s culture. As Europeans took over Latin America during the time of colonization, they implemented many elitist social structures that have held strong and are evident today (Harris). Income inequality is the most visible and greatest disparity that the region faces; yet inequality between gender, ethnicities, and education remain strong and significant problems with a necessity for improvement. Inequality of wealth and disparity of power and influence are Latin American’s greatest curses and are at the root of many of the …show more content…
Only a small fraction of the population enjoyed the grant of suffrage, allocating the desires of the elite into the political system (De Ferranti). Since the governments controlled the land in the new colonies, the upper class influenced the distribution of wealth and implemented policies controlling the ownership of land, prices and acreages. Many immigrants from Europe moved to Latin America as sharecroppers or tenant farmers. Historically, peasants and peones of the plantations working for the colonizers experienced the worst mistreatment. With an abundance of eager immigrants willing to take on the farming jobs, a scarcity for good labor was a crucial element in determining the initial level of inequality in the New World colonies. The upper class implemented new market opportunities, increased the value and price of land, and influenced land policies in order to keep the ownership of land and power throughout the colony even after they had reached independence (Harris). Latin America entered the 20th century with high and persistent levels of inequality. A study done in Colombia by Londoño argued, “Inequality in the 1990s was about the same level as it was in 1938.” Although the countries instated little policies or systems to improve inequality, other aspects of Latin America were advancing industrially and politically (De Ferranti). The growth of

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