With a new emphasis on introspection, Latin American govenment representatives meeting here this week have decided that perhaps the United States and other developed countries are not to blame for all of their economic problems after all.
They are making a connection between their economic development and social justice between human rights and equitable internal income distributions. Delegates to the biannual meeting of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America have acknowledged that national proposerity has not necessarily meant a better life of their people.
Since its formation in the 1948, the commission has been a forum for Latin criticism of world trade politicies and economic materialism by the developed nations. That criticism has not disappeared, and the wek-long conference ending today was marked by continued calls for more access to U.S. markets and technology.
There also were dnunciations, by such nations as Chile and Cuba, of through what regard as xanctimonious human rights pronouncements.
The criticism was tempered, at least among some Latins, by calls from the widely respected regional economic leader Raul Prebisch and commission Secretary General Enrique V. Iglesias for Latins to begin devoting as much enrgy to their internal problems as they have toward problem caused by the rest of the world.
While Latin America has had a hefty 6 per cent average annual growth rate over the past several years, much of that growth has not trickled down. At least 750 million people still have per capita incomes of less than $200 a year. Human rights have suffered. Political repression, carried out in the name of needed economic stability, has characterized many Latin countries.
Prebisch, an Argentine who is known as the father of the commission and of the current demand for a new world economic order, told delegated from 25 Latin governments that he no longer believes such an order can be achieved without a domestic "ethical impulse" that is lacking in Latin America.
His words echoed those of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young who told the group Tuesday that development "is a process by which full human rights and dignity are achieved . . . rather than just an economic process."
While Young was speaking primarily of human rights, the commission majority developed the connection between social and human justice and economic development as its own agreeing to pursue wider employment income distribution and opportunities for Latins to participate in their own government.
Not all of the delegates agreed with putting social and economic develpments on the same plain. The meeting's draft final report said some delegates noted "that an increasing output of goods was needed in order to bring about better conditions of social welfare." This was offered as a sort of dissenting opinion. The main thrust of the speeches indicated a new alignment in the Western hemisphere. In the words of Gabriel Valdes, a Chilean former foreign minister and currently a U.S. development program director, "the United States has joined the opposition" in Latin America.
The Latin opposition, in the human rights context, is basically those governments privately offended by violations in neighboring nations.
When Prebisch spoke of the United States in earlier times, it was as the leader of a developed-world economic conspiracy against the poor countries of Latin America.
This time, while Chilean Vice Minister of Finance, Sergio Perez said that he did not think the conference was the proper place to "mix social problems with economic troubles," Prebisch appealed to the delegates to understand U.S. human-rights concern as an "expression of moral solidarity from the northern hemisphere that we are not used to."