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Steppenpig

Waht Happened To South America

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I'd quite like to visit some day, and I try to be rational about risks, but it seems like it is just getting worryingly dangerous. It seems like it should be a paradise, and apparently it was (at least in parts) as wealthy as Europe a century ago. Now much of it seems to be on the verge of civil collapse. Latest example, mexican students apparently being executed, probably by police, under instructions of mayor http://www.forbes.com/sites/doliaestevez/2014/10/13/u-s-toughens-mexico-travel-warning-after-kidnappings-mass-graves-in-guerrero/

But it's not just the violence, I've seen documentaries (over the years) that seem to show education totally failing, the population having giving up hope, it seems to just be in terminal decline. Exactly the opposite of what is going on in SE Asia or China.

What on earth has caused it? Specifically I suppose:

Dictators (America's fault I suppose)

Drug traffic (America's fault I suppose)

But that doesn't fully explain it. There's corruption too of course, but that seems pretty rife world over, including in Asia and the West.

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The linked article says 70 Americans got kidnapped in the first six months of the year in mexico, which it describes as "not very many, considering the number of American tourists"

Wel the relevant base is the average "population" of tourists, not the total number of visitors. Americans get 2 weeks holiday, so about 4%*350 million = 14 million on holiday at any point, say a quarter in Mexico, then risk of kidnapping is (2*70)*4/14m = 40 per milion per year.

That's a higher risk factor that road deaths in the UK (my normal standard for dangerousity)

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I'd quite like to visit some day, and I try to be rational about risks, but it seems like it is just getting worryingly dangerous. It seems like it should be a paradise, and apparently it was (at least in parts) as wealthy as Europe a century ago. Now much of it seems to be on the verge of civil collapse. Latest example, mexican students apparently being executed, probably by police, under instructions of mayor http://www.forbes.com/sites/doliaestevez/2014/10/13/u-s-toughens-mexico-travel-warning-after-kidnappings-mass-graves-in-guerrero/

But it's not just the violence, I've seen documentaries (over the years) that seem to show education totally failing, the population having giving up hope, it seems to just be in terminal decline. Exactly the opposite of what is going on in SE Asia or China.

What on earth has caused it? Specifically I suppose:

Dictators (America's fault I suppose)

Drug traffic (America's fault I suppose)

But that doesn't fully explain it. There's corruption too of course, but that seems pretty rife world over, including in Asia and the West.

I think we are only just now seeing some movement on open scientific analysis of the genetic differences that link to such societal factors as empathy, anger, violence, long term planning ability, ant vs grasshopper, religousity, alchoholism, etc. I have little doubt, having worked in many corners of the world that different cultures are a combination of cultural history AND genetic predisposition.

Hated by many as nazi-like to even discuss, but if as I suspect genes do make a big difference, there may be some populations that just can't succeed in complex societies due to culture and genes. Not saying its the case for south america, but worth thinking about for all those places that should succeed but just dont.

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The linked article says 70 Americans got kidnapped in the first six months of the year in mexico, which it describes as "not very many, considering the number of American tourists"

I've got a photo somewhere I took in a well-to-do part of Mexico City of two blokes dressed liked stormtroopers both holding *huge* pump-action shotguns ...guarding the front door of a toy shop.

Fwiw I like Mexico (strictly speaking, Latin rather than South America). The fact that I tan easily and dress like an indigent possibly helps.

Mention of Americans in Mexico brought to mind this recent example of super-PC self(?)-loathing from SNL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87OfXVSSQQg

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That's a higher risk factor that road deaths in the UK (my normal standard for dangerousity)

The risk of road deaths in the UK isn't very high though, so it's a very cautious standard for dangerousity.

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Steppenpig, on 14 Oct 2014 - 1:35 PM, said:
But that doesn't fully explain it. There's corruption too of course, but that seems pretty rife world over, including in Asia and the West.
Are you basing your perception that Latin/ South America is going down the toilet on anecdotals, or something more objective?
I'd take, say, contemporary Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile or Argentina over the way they were in the 70s and 80s any day.
Income inequality is falling in Latin America even as it rises elsewhere in the world, according to a World Bank study that encourages government intervention to reduce the wealth gap.
Over the past 15 years, more than 50 million people have risen into the middle class, which is now – for the first time – about the same size as the population of poor in the region, says the report, which was unveiled on Tuesday.
For decades, Latin America was notorious for some of the widest income gaps in the world, but a combination of favourable economic conditions and interventionist policies by left-leaning governments in Brazil and other countries has brought it more closely in line with international norms.

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I think we are only just now seeing some movement on open scientific analysis of the genetic differences that link to such societal factors as empathy, anger, violence, long term planning ability, ant vs grasshopper, religousity, alchoholism, etc. I have little doubt, having worked in many corners of the world that different cultures are a combination of cultural history AND genetic predisposition.

Hated by many as nazi-like to even discuss, but if as I suspect genes do make a big difference, there may be some populations that just can't succeed in complex societies due to culture and genes. Not saying its the case for south america, but worth thinking about for all those places that should succeed but just dont.

Have you been reading "A troublesome inheritance"? There are some massive holes in that narrative, though to be fair it does do a good job of trying to open up for discussion some interesting yet virtually taboo questions.

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Economically speaking you are probably right.. Particularly Argentina and Brazil spring to mind. Mexico is actually bucking the trend in this area and Peña Nieto seems to be quite lucky courting investment/the Americans.

In terms of travel I go to Mexico every year and have never felt even slightly threatened/uneasy. The only area I'd probably avoid if you're risk averse is the Northern border.

In the grand scheme of things though the cartels really aren't interested in tourists.

Honestly, you'll be fine.

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If you're planning to travel Latin America I'd be more focused on the cost and how you go about doing it. There is no motorway from North America to South America so you'll need to find a way to cross the Darién Gap. Flights are expensive and the ferry not entirely straight forward (I believe).

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I understand Iberia are going to do flights to South America from Spain next year for a reasonable price. So no need to visit the States first..

As mentioned above, Mexico is apparently on the up as regards economic power. Anyone know why?

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As mentioned above, Mexico is apparently on the up as regards economic power. Anyone know why?

I don't really know, but I think possibly a combination of things.

The government is being accused of "selling the country" so I think there is a lot of privatisation going on and mineral wealth being made available for private exploitation.

Also the violence has actually died down considerably in the past year or so which is probably helping inward investment.

They are also next door to the U.S. and have an abundance of cheapish labour. I think a lot of US manufacturers are happier to out source to Mexico that Asia now as it is closer to home both culturally and geographically and without the same perceived risk to IP etc.

That's the best guess I could give..

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School of the Americas.... Combined with a war on drugs.

Legalise and liberalise, everyone benefits except the power players at the top.

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I think we are only just now seeing some movement on open scientific analysis of the genetic differences that link to such societal factors as empathy, anger, violence, long term planning ability, ant vs grasshopper, religousity, alchoholism, etc. I have little doubt, having worked in many corners of the world that different cultures are a combination of cultural history AND genetic predisposition.

Hated by many as nazi-like to even discuss, but if as I suspect genes do make a big difference, there may be some populations that just can't succeed in complex societies due to culture and genes. Not saying its the case for south america, but worth thinking about for all those places that should succeed but just dont.

Doesn't the experience in Latin America rather disprove your theory of genetic determinism? Argentina, with the most racially "pure" European population, has seen it's economy go from 4th largest in the world to a complete basket case over the past 100 years, while Brazil, with one of the most racially mixed populations, has become one of the most successful economies.

My own personal take on Latin America is that these countries lack a real sense of national culture which appeals across their populations -- the prototype of multi-culturalism. If you look at the history of these countries, there's a series of struggles between a resource-extracting elite who prefer to live in Paris, New York or Miami, and a general population often supporting dictators in the name of countering the power and wealth of that elite. It's all about resource extraction or revenge, not long term investment.

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I understand Iberia are going to do flights to South America from Spain next year for a reasonable price. So no need to visit the States first..

As mentioned above, Mexico is apparently on the up as regards economic power. Anyone know why?

I'm guessing it's down to population.

The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) all have 100m+ populations.

Now they're talking about the MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey). Turkey only has ~80m people but the other three have 100m+. Guessing it's down to plentiful cheap labour allowing manufacturing to be relocated there and the ability to rapidly develop infrastructure. Just guess work though.

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Doesn't the experience in Latin America rather disprove your theory of genetic determinism? Argentina, with the most racially "pure" European population, has seen it's economy go from 4th largest in the world to a complete basket case over the past 100 years, while Brazil, with one of the most racially mixed populations, has become one of the most successful economies.

My own personal take on Latin America is that these countries lack a real sense of national culture which appeals across their populations -- the prototype of multi-culturalism. If you look at the history of these countries, there's a series of struggles between a resource-extracting elite who prefer to live in Paris, New York or Miami, and a general population often supporting dictators in the name of countering the power and wealth of that elite. It's all about resource extraction or revenge, not long term investment.

Sounds like Norman Britain. So maybe a few centuries, and they'll come good.

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The risk of road deaths in the UK isn't very high though, so it's a very cautious standard for dangerousity.

Without getting into the details of road dangerousity again, I accept the risk as it would be impractical not to, but it is undoubtedly the greatest risk I am subject to in my normal life, and I do (in theory at least) take precautions to minimise it, so presumaby I should be cautious about visiting Mexico too.

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I've got a photo somewhere I took in a well-to-do part of Mexico City of two blokes dressed liked stormtroopers both holding *huge* pump-action shotguns ...guarding the front door of a toy shop.

Are you sure they weren't toys?

Are you basing your perception that Latin/ South America is going down the toilet on anecdotals, or something more objective?

You're right of course (that could start to get annoying, you know?)

It seems like mexico has almost spookily exactly matched world growth over the last half century, beating the asian laggards (but well behind the tigers)

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=wb-wdi&met=ny_gdp_pcap_cd&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=gdp+per+capita+world#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_cd&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:MEX:CHL:THA:PER&ifdim=country&tdim=true&tstart=-290739600000&tend=1287093600000&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

My perception is based on reports of gang violence (or police executions) in the media, a couple of documentaries I have seen over the years.

But the number of violent deaths is objectively significantly worse than UK traffic deaths (or homicides). Although perhaps I should be more worried about traffic deaths in those countries too. Don't know if it's got worse though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

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But the number of violent deaths is objectively significantly worse than UK traffic deaths (or homicides).

Yes. Though those statistics will probably not be representative of your own personal level of risk unless you are planning on joining the police, army, a criminal gang or a drug cartel while you are over there.

If you really are genuinely worried, how about a package holiday to Cancun or similar tourist trap just to dip your toe in?

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Yes. Though those statistics will probably not be representative of your own personal level of risk unless you are planning on joining the police, army, a criminal gang or a drug cartel while you are over there.

If you really are genuinely worried, how about a package holiday to Cancun or similar tourist trap just to dip your toe in?

The prisons look interesting (nsfw)...

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