by Luis Vega

Now that Colin Powell has stepped down as the United States Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice will be taking his place there is much concern to be had. Even though she is one of the incumbent president’s most trusted colleagues and did a phenomenal job as a National Security advisor I speculate that she will have a difficult time as the new Secretary of State.

Aside from experience, or lack thereof Condoleezza Rice will fair well in the political scene of nations who are in turmoil. Rice will make her presence felt in countries such as Korea, and the Middle East and will have a positive impact in these areas. On the other hand, in striving economies where Colin Powell excelled and seemed to achieve success and bilateral relations Rice will not fare as well. In areas such as Latin America where the economies in Brazil, Panama, Chile, and Argentina are excelling it is tough to decipher if Rice will have the impact that Powell had.

In striving economies especially in Latin American countries, it is important for leaders abroad to understand how detrimental it is to get assistance from the United States. Even though leaders may have a nationalistic approach of handling issues pertaining to their particular country, to be in good standing with the United States is almost like having a free meal ticket. The question is, what is it worth to have the United States on your sided? Is it worth having United States government telling your government when and how it should operate? This is the dilemma that Cuba and Fidel Castro has had for the past forty five years. And even though Fidel Castro has proven to the Cuban people that he is a competent leader, he does it with menial means, therefore not enabling the Cuban economy to grow. Cuba is a rare exception because of the long standing feud between them and the United States. On the other hand the United States has established good relationships with other countries on this side of the hemisphere.

The Other Side of the Fence
In Panama where people are on one side of the fence and others are on the other as far as relations with the United States and how far the United States will go to instill policy in other areas of the world. In 1989 when the United States invaded Panama because of the harsh brutal regime of Manuel Noriega there is no question that the reasoning was because of Noriega planning to renege on the agreement with the United States and taking back the Panama Canal. Now in 2004, that Noriega is serving a twenty five to life sentence in Florida relations between the United States and Panama have become a lot better and the economy is striving what we all need to know is how far the United States will go as to involve them in the Republic of Panama. Property values have tripled in the past two years, and companies that you see in the United States you will now see pretty regularly in Panama City like restaurants such as T.G.I.Fridays, and Chili’s and other American establishments such as Citibank and Wal-Mart.

It is understandable why American interest has become increasingly popular. A striving economy in Panama is not only good for Panama and Latin America but it also benefits the United States of America. With American involvement in Panama, it benefits both parties. With America involved in Panama military regimes like that of Manuel Noriega are a lot less likely to occur and Panama can have a stable economy. The Panamanian people will not have their bank accounts frozen and receive five cents on the dollar like when Noriega took power. In 1989 the economy was in shambles and money could not be spent in Panama. Although this was a nationalistic move it would have isolated Panama from the United States, and all countries that the United States supported in Latin America and abroad.

The future of Panama and its economy will depend on how much the free-market advances. There is no doubt that most Panamanian people will embrace it because it allows for a larger middle class group in Panama which is the problem in most “ Third World” countries. The disparity between the upper and lower class is so great and there is no one in the middle to pick up the slack. This is why economies don’t advance.

The Advancing Guard
Economic advancement usually has a large impact on the political scheme in most countries. A striving economy proves stability while a spiraling economy will show how unstable a country can be. The blame of an economic downturn is frequently blamed on the government and its inability to function properly. Governments and its leaders are frequently blamed because they are usually the culprits. Corruption in the government is typically the cause of a spiraling economy. With no capital going back to the community it is extremely difficult to maintain economic stability.

Everything feeds off of each other. The government and the thieves involved have a direct affect on the economy and economy has an affect on everybody in that country. No money circulating in the economy equals inflation which will shy away investors domestically and internationally.

Before Colin Powell resigned from his post as Secretary of State he was in negotiations with rapidly developing countries in Latin America such as Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, and most important Brazil. In Brazil for example in the mega city of Sao Paolo jobs are not so easy to find especially since there are over 20 million people living in the capital alone.

But what the United States will do in these economies is bring the free market in as well as wealthy investors. This will not only put money in the pockets of Rich Americans, most importantly it will start to develop a middle class in a society where the disparity between the lower and upper class is so great. It will take place on bigger scale in Brazil because of the size and the amount of people living in Brazil but it will also start to reflect in smaller countries as well. Bilateral relations between the United States and Latin American countries will be very strong within the next twenty years.

It shouldn’t be thought of as the United States coming in and taking advantage of less developed nations but it should be considered bilateral relations that will ultimately benefit everyone. Imagine establishing a middle class in the Dominican Republic where one does not even exist. Investors will not only capitalize but the people who were once unskilled workers now will be skilled workers. Children will be encouraged to go to school and get an education because within the next twenty years it will show that an education counts. With democratically elected leaders and the free market in the economy people will not have to worry about brutal military leaders and economic crises. People have to want to get out there and do what needs to be done to make a better life for them and their children, and not rely so much on social programs. Only time will tell.