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    070339

    Innocent victims of unjust economic order.

    Perez Esquivel A

    INTER-AMERICAN PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT. BULLETIN. 1991 Dec; 8(11):1-3.

    The author indicts World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and overall developed country policy as responsible for Latin America's large impoverished and disenfranchised child and adolescent population. As an example of the magnitude of the problem, he notes that 1/3 of Brazil's 150 million population is comprised of youth and children. 8 million live on the streets, of which only 1 million receive official aid. Forced to fend for themselves, these youths fall into drug addiction, prostitution, and crime, suffering poor health, malnutrition, and widespread illiteracy. Many are sold, imprisoned, kidnapped, and exploited. Street children in Rio de Janeiro even suffer the added threat of being killed by the Squadrons of Death who consider the murder of juveniles a solution to delinquency. The state of affairs has deteriorated to such an extent in Peru that abandoned children are considered the most significant social problem. Argentina, Bolivia, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua all suffer similar problems of impoverished youths, and claim some of the highest infant mortality rates (IMR) in the world. Cuba is the only country in Latin America with an IMR comparable to and often lower than many developed countries. Chile and Costa Rica follow closely behind in their achievements. Where Latin America already holds the largest gap between wealthy and poor, meeting adjustment demands of Northern economies and countries has only made conditions and inequities worse. Recession and poverty have worsened at the expense of youths. Attempting to pay down debt over the 1980s, improvements in Latin America's trade balance have gone unnoticed as the South has grown to be a net exporter of capital. Latin American nations need more than token charitable donations in times of emergency and particular duress. Development programs sensitive to the more vulnerable segments of society, and backed by the political will of developed nations, are called for. Unless constructive, supportive policy is enacted by Northern nations to help those impoverished in the South, social rebellion and continued, enhanced resistance should be expected from Latin American youths in the years ahead.
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