Asia is the wrong star to hitch economic future

The report issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean as outlined in A.M. Costa Rica, suggesting that Latin America should forge closer ties with Asian Pacific nations because of their economic growth, is a recipe for sociocultural and environmental disaster that Ticos should reject unequivocally.

The documents which were presented by a Ms. Alicia Bárcena, the organization’s executive secretary, apparently imply that if Latin American countries embrace/emulate the Asian model(s) of economic growth, the result will be “sustainable, long-term economic growth with equality and competitiveness” in the region.

Have Ms. Barcena and her esteemed colleagues been living on another planet for the last 20 years? One would have to be that far removed from the reality of the Asian economic “phenomenon” to not have seen the truth: most Asian growth has been built on the backs of underpaid and often cruelly abused workers toiling in sweat shop conditions amid horrific environmental degradation to turn out goods that have in far too many instances proved to be of poor quality at best, and at worst to be dangerous to consumers.

Who in their right mind would want to forge closer ties with countries whose values and policies are so morally and ethically bankrupt? Apparently Ms. Barcena would like to overlook the fact that it was Asia that sucked the life out of much of the Latin American manufacturing sector and put millions of Latinos out of work by undercutting labor costs!

Everything I’ve seen here in Costa Rica over the last 10 years, and everything I’ve read in A.M. Costa Rica suggests very strongly that the Costa Rican government and people are striving for a socioeconomic reality that totally rejects this sort of inhumane treatment of workers and ignorance of environmental protection. It goes without saying that Costa Rica isn’t there yet, but I sincerely believe that Ticos hold those desires and values dear to their hearts.

I think Ms. Barcena’s comment that “We need to view relations with Asia Pacific not as a menace, but as a great opportunity and advantage,” acknowledges the reality that most who aren’t involved in economic policy spin control can see very clearly, that Asian countries are in fact a model of how NOT to grow an economy.

Asia is like an out-of-control locomotive headed full steam ahead for an unsustainable and calamitous future that all of Latin America should repudiate. Latin Americans should be especially vigilant to insure that their own governments don’t damage their economic futures by selling off their precious and non-renewable natural resources to feed the furnaces of Asian manufacturing.

Costa Rica’s new friend and benefactor, Communist China, is the prime example of the new Asian economic predator nation, stalking the developing world in search of every last ounce of fodder for its insatiable economic engine.

Everything China is saying/doing here has one veiled and ominous purpose; to exploit Costa Rica’s rich oil reserves. One has to wonder how long the Costa Rica government can hold out in this respect, given its dire need for capital investment in infrastructure and social programs, and considering China’s deep pockets.

SHAME on the United Nations for allowing one of its agencies to put out such a load of ignorant nonsense, when the U.N. itself has on numerous occasions condemned the horrific working conditions and environmental destruction that are emblematic of so many Asian economic strategies.

Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio

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