The global economic crisis has touched every region of the world to varying degrees but its impact on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean has been especially discouraging. After two decades of economic malaise, debt overload, fiscal crises and hyperinflation, the region was enjoying a robust six-year period of economic growth – a “bonanza” – that was beginning to have tangible results in terms of poverty reduction and a growing middle class. Now, just one year into the global recession, the countries of the region are suffering major setbacks in economic growth, employment, remittances and exports, with expectations of significant backsliding in poverty reduction, fiscal stability and social investments. These developments, combined with elements of autocratic populism in some countries, rising public insecurity and the risks of climate change, present major challenges for democratic leadership at the national, regional and global levels.
On July 13, 2009, the Club of Madrid, under its program on The Political Dimensions of the World Economic Crisis, gathered at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile for an in-depth discussion with top experts on the regional aspects of the global recession. Present at the all-day roundtable were eight members of the Club of Madrid, all democratic former heads of state or government, along with high-level representatives from intergovernmental organizations, academic institutions and civil society to analyze the economic situation and the political implications that flow from it. This report offers a summary of the key points and recommendations that were raised at the meeting as input to the Club of Madrid’s annual conference on the topic in November 2009.