By John A. Booth
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Extra resources for Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change, 5th Edition
Likewise, one cannot maintain that the region lacks sufficient resources to support its human population. El Salvador is overpopulated. But Central America as a whole has enough good land not only to produce some primary products for export and foreign exchange but also to grow sufficient staples to feed its people. And though not exceptionally blessed in this regard, the region also has some mineral resources and significant hydroelectric energy resources and potential. In fact, much of Central America’s poverty is largely a human artifact— produced by exploitation of the many by the region’s powerful upper classes as they operate within the larger world economic system.
4 Modest improvements in income occurred in the 1990s and early 2000s, but these gains appeared very vulnerable to looming world economic problems in 2009. Basic food production illustrates some of the problems stemming from greater economic inequality. Land in the region is very inequitably distributed. Typically, the rich and powerful control the best land and on it grow export products rather than food staples. In a capitalist economy, this makes good sense to landowners because export products earn greater profits than domestically marketed staples.
During these same five decades Costa Rica’s government, a politically stable democracy, pursued a development strategy that invested in its citizens’ human development (especially education and health care) more than any other country in the isthmus. Thus Costa Ricans weathered the half century’s storms much better and emerged in better shape than their neighbors, enjoying higher prosperity, literacy, and life expectancy and much lower rates of working children and infant mortality than their neighbors.
Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change, 5th Edition by John A. Booth