Why do economic development and representative democracy run into such difficulties in both Latin America and Africa?
I must admit, I do agree in part with some of the comments made in #7. Speaking as somebody who is currently living in a South American country and who has travelled around South America, I find it hard to see how economic development, as the Western world imagines it to be, can really find a place in many countries in South America. There are so many issues that need to be sorted first before economic development can even be thought of, involving true democratic government, representative democracy, corruption and nepotism. All of these are very pronounced in a number of countries in South America and Africa.
Through the above discussions, there seems to lie the assumption that these countries should want economic development or representative democracy. It would appear to me that our own US experiment in representative government or enlightened capitalism, has run into some major difficulties. As soon as the responsibility for one actions ar shifted to some other control, the system is doomed to fail. Having been allowed to visit countries other than this one, I have been amazed at the vesatility, the control over their own situations and the magnificent cultures that are developed in the face of increasing pressure from outside forces to "conform". Until we can accept a model where every individaul is impoirtant, we will be resisted in any efforts to force control. This power struggle is ecclesastical as well as political.
Why any group of individuals should want our gas guzzling vehicles, our usless sophisticated housing, our economic palaces, or our ostentatious religious organizations is quite beyond my power of comprehension. We are unable to distinguish health care and health insurance, we confuse homelessnes with poverty, and seem to insist that wealth consists of things. Somehow, in the popular notion charity is the same as love and above all, I am better than you.
Historically, Latin America and certainly Africa were prosperous before colonialism and certainly the Slave Trade. Their foundations, values, culture, safety, government and resources have been stripped. The unfortunate thing is that many Western countries continue to strip these areas of their resources, and this leads to desperation and corruption such as the Somali pirates cases. Somali pirates feel that they are protecting their valuable resources from outsiders that continue to come in and steal from them. That's just one of the many examples of how people in those countries are turning to desperate measures to survive.
One possible answer to this is that both problems in both places are caused by the legacy of colonialism.
Colonialism does not tend to lead to economies that are self-sufficient. Colonies' economies are set up and run for the benefit of the mother country. When the colony becomes independent, its economy is generally not very robust and has a hard time becoming more developed.
Colonialism also does not tend to prepare countries to govern themselves. Colonizers tend to try to prevent the colonized from really becoming able to rule themselves. When independence comes, the colonized often lack the education and the experience to set up good governments. They tend also to lack the sort of societal attitudes that make for democracy. They have not really been taught to be democratic and do not have centuries of "evolution" that have moved them towards democracy.
For these reasons, it is plausible to say that colonialism is responsible for the problems of places like Latin America and Africa.
Undeniable though the effects of Colonialism, Slave Trade, and the Cold War were, and are, it's too long now that they've been used as excuses for social, economic, and political backwardness.
I think response #4 stated the crucial factor in this problem: "Lack of stable government; corruption."
The topic question for this discussion contains the clue: "Representative Democracy."
Where is it? one may ask rhetorically. Till there is real representative democracy, the dictators, single-party rulers, and unlimited stretch of incumbency will always be hindrances to progress.