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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Travel in Latin America

Issues in Latin American Countries
By:Laurie Rappeport

If you plan to travel to Latin America, then take time to investigate the region's history, politics, economy and society. Once you have the data about the region, you will comprehend more of what you see and have a better understanding of your overall experience. Journalists, historians, government experts and people who live in Latin America can provide you with tools for understanding Latin American issues.

Argentina, in South America's southern region, borders Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. Argentina spends considerable resources trying to control the smuggling of contraband, human trafficking and illegal narcotics that come over its shared border with Bolivia. Since the end of World War II, Argentina has existed under several dictatorships including that of Juan Peron, whose supporters continue to influence right-wing politics in Argentina. Argentina has struggled with severe economic problems. Argentinian exports are heavily dependent on beef and soybeans, causing an economic downturn whenever environmental or other issues affect their export.

The only non-Spanish-speaking country in Latin America is Brazil, where the main language is Portuguese. Brazil is a democracy and has a strong economy, buoyed by its discovery of major offshore oil reserves. Many of Brazil's issues center around land. A few rich landowners own large tracts of Brazil's land, creating a situation in which the common farmer stands no chance of ever owning his own land. Additional issues in Brazil relate to deforestation of the rain forest of the Amazon, an ecological disaster for the world.

Columbia's difficulties with right-wing paramilitary groups, drug cartels and leftist guerrillas have destabilized the country's infrastructure for several decades. The country's ruling class descends from the Spanish conquerors, while the majority of the indigenous population struggles with poverty. Columbia has extreme poverty. One of the biggest issues that the Columbian government deals with revolves around the influence and economic strength of the drug trade.

Peru's expanding economy depends on expansion of the mining of its natural resources including copper, lead, zinc, silver, oil and gold. Much of the mining occurs in rural areas, and the populations of these areas increasingly assert their rights to protect their lands. Peru produces a large percent of the world's coca leaf supply together with a significant percentage of the world's cocaine trade. Production of cocaine also involves chemicals that production workers dump in the rain forests, damaging the environment.

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