Latin America has undergone a spectacular transformation over the past few decades. The region, which was once among the poorest and least developed on the planet, has achieved an impressive level of integration and progress in many areas. Education and health standards have improved dramatically, changing the lives of entire generations. In the economic arena, financial integration has been at the heart of the region’s growing exposure and relevance as a key player in world financial markets. The importance of the region as a powerful block has been enhanced by the consolidation of the democratic processes taking place in almost every member country.
Despite these titanic achievements, the region still faces daunting challenges. Citizen-participation levels in the building of democracy are still far from optimal. Inequality, especially regarding the gender gap and the distribution of wealth, remains an area of concern. The wealthy few still hold the majority of the resources, and most women have not yet enjoyed the same economic and social opportunities afforded to men. Insecurity has reached alarming levels, threatening peace and social stability. More than ever, democracy needs to be protected, and indeed fostered, throughout the region.
This is the aspiration of the Latin America Policy Journal (LAPJ) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University: to create a strong community of Latin American emerging and consolidated leaders, one in which we can reflect, dialogue, and act in unison to face the most pressing problems of our region.
Latin Americans have come to understand and deeply believe in the importance of strengthening the bonds in our region. We recognize the value of a strong identity that builds upon our shared heritage and our shared present and future. We understand that there is something greater than being Mexican, Colombian, or Argentinian. That something greater is being Latin American. We understand that because we share similar challenges, we can and must learn from and assist each other.
This journal allows us to think critically, engage in dialogue, act, and learn from different practices across the region in order to continue the spectacular transformation that Latin America has undergone thus far.