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Belize experienced rising poverty amid “boom” for the Americas

TORONTO, Canada–The challenging economic outlook for the Americas was the subject of an economic forum held in Canada that has just concluded. José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), analyzed the economic outlook for the countries of the region in the coming years, in his comments at the 8th Annual Meeting of the International Economic Forum of the Americas held at Royal York Hotel in Toronto on Monday, October 27, and Tuesday, October 28, 2014, which focused on the theme “Rethinking Growth.”

Insulza said that the period from 2002 to 2012 was a boom time for most of the region, which, he said, “allowed us to grow more in one decade than in the previous two decades put together,” and during which nearly 70 million people were lifted from poverty.

However, during this same decade, Belize experienced rising poverty. As Amandala reported back in January 2010, over 50,000 Belizeans, particularly in the Southside of Belize City and in Toledo, had plunged into the depths of poverty between the country assessment of 2002 and the most recent study done in 2009, a span of seven years. In 2009, 41.3% of the Belizean population (or 142,000) was classified as poor, versus under 90,000 in 2002.

Insulza noted that while most of the region experienced declining poverty in the decade in question, more challenging times are here.

He said that “…Latin America is again faced with poor figures of growth, for the second year in a row.”

He added that, “If there is some truth that we have learned about Latin America, it is that our political and economic development has never followed a straight line, but has been full of surprises, successes and setbacks and carries several historical burdens which are never easy to shed permanently.”

The OAS Secretary-General said that countries would have to develop their potential by building economies “that allow the region to maintain high growth rates on its own without relying on erratic commodity prices in global markets or the abundance of foreign investment.”

He added that one major obstacle in addressing this challenge is that “while many good things can be said about the economic progresses of Latin America, domestic savings and investment continue to be our Achilles heel.”

The region needs to improve on export diversification, the quality of education, public investment in infrastructure, productive sector competitiveness and debt sustainability, sustainable energy development and combating inequality, Insulza urged.

According to the OAS, The International Economic Forum of the Americas organizes annual summits which bring together heads of states, central bank governors, ministers and global economic decision makers. These summits serve as a strategic platform for business development.

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