“Global Economic Slowdown Deepens” read the 14 November front page Wall Street Journal headline. It’s real. And while some nations are slowing down, others are diving deep into economic and social despair.
No clearer example than what’s going on south of America’s border down Mexico way, where several thousand escapees who left their economically depressed homelands, are trying to get into America in hopes of finding jobs and living better lives.
Triangle #1: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have formed the Northern Triangle of Central America where hundreds of thousands of migrants flee their economically depressed, crime-ridden countries and their corrupt, dysfunctional governments to seek safety and job opportunities.
Doctors without Borders reports, “A pattern of violent displacement, persecution, sexual violence and forced repatriation akin to the conditions found in the deadliest armed conflicts of the world today.”
They also note that 92 percent of these migrants who reach the United States, suffered some form of violence either in their countries or when they traveled through Mexico, another nation in decline, despair and inequality that not only offer no comfort for fleeing migrants, they are detaining, arresting and deporting them back to their native countries.
Indeed, with the richest 1 percent of the population owning almost half of the country’s wealth, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexico, with one of the highest rates of inequality among developed countries, offers no “Hope and Change you Can Believe In” for those escaping similar conditions.
And, settling in Mexico, where it is fighting its own war against drug cartels that have killed over a quarter million people over the last decade, provides no relief from the violence they are escaping.
Further, Mexico’s homicide rate continues to set yearly records, while its military is accused of carrying out executions with impunity to quell workers and students fighting government corruption and economic inequality.
Triangle #2: Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, are forming the southern triangle of economic, political and social death.
Sinking deeper into recession, rising violence on the streets, massive social protest, rampant government corruption … the threat of dictatorial governments and massive emigration and immigration to varying degrees affect these countries and threaten stability throughout the region.
Indeed, considering their size and military strength, violence could explode beyond South America, not only accelerating the migrant wave north, but igniting a war that will be felt throughout North America.
ARGENTINA: BAILOUT COMES WITH HISTORIC INTEREST RATE
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, who when elected in 2015 was championed as the nation’s economic savior by the business and political establishments. However, during his regime, the nation has fallen deep into recession, its peso is down some 40 percent against the dollar and its central bank’s interest rates have spiked to 70 percent, making it nearly impossible for small businesses to borrow money.
In a desperate effort to stop the economic bloodbath, Macri signed and the Argentinean government signed off on a $57 billion line of credit from the International Monetary Fund.
While it’s bad news for Argentina, it’s good news for the IMF. This verifies the quote, “When the world around the IMF goes downhill, we thrive,” said IMF Chief Christine Lagarde. “We become extremely active because we lend money, we earn interest and charges and all the rest of it, and the institution does well. When the world goes well and we’ve had years of growth, as was the case back in 2006, and 2007, the IMF doesn’t do so well both financially and otherwise,” she boasted.
How does it get paid back when the country’s economic growth is slowing?
To pay off the massive IMF debt load, in November, Argentinean lawmakers approved an austerity budget for 2019 that cuts social spending by 35 percent to make the debt payments and imposed a vale-added tax that hits consumers.
With inflation at 45 percent and up 34 percent from last year, and 28 percent of its 43 million people living in poverty, the massive and violent street protests that erupted as Macri’s government slashed public services, government jobs and proposed other deep budget cuts will escalate, and military imposed clamp downs to stop them will accelerate.
BRAZIL: RECESSION OVER, LARGER CRISIS LOOMING
While Brazil emerged from its worst recession in over a century, the financial crisis is far from over. The Brazilian real is down some 12 percent against the dollar this year and the country’s unemployment rate hovers around 12 percent.
And now, with Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who praised the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled the nation from 1964 to 1985 – and who has filled his cabinet with military officers – the nation is being braced for a round of austerity measures.
On the economic home front, Brazil’s business community, which endorsed Bolsanaro during the election, supports his promise to overhaul Latin America’s largest economy by employing Milton Freidman principles to restructure the economy and address the country’s huge budget deficit.
Thus, he will slash government spending, cut social programs, pensions and benefits, reduce government jobs, sell off state-run companies and reduce taxes that will mostly benefit the largest corporations.
As with other nations whose governments have imposed strict austerity measures in times of economic decline, as social unrest against the measures escalate, police and military crackdowns will intensify.
Further, on a regional level, Bolsanaro has expressed his disdain against the Venezuelan government, saying that country should no longer be a member of Mercosur, the South American trade block, and that he would break diplomatic ties with Venezuela.
Also, Argentinian President Macri has planned to report Venezuela’s government to the International Criminal Court at The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity.
And adding to growing speculation that Colombia and Brazil are planning to topple Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Columbia’s Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, whose country is facing an influx of over a million Venezuelan refugees, warned of, “growing unrest and anarchy that will spread across the region.”
VENEZUELA: EXODUS AND HYPERINFLATION
Venezuela, derisively labeled the Congo of South America, is marked by deepening economic depression and exploding emigration. There is a fast-growing scarcity of food, medicine, clean water, housing and other basic staples of daily life.
It’s currency, the bolivar, is essentially worthless, with the IMF projecting Venezuela’s inflation rate to hit 1,000,000 percent in 2018.
When people lose everything, and they have nothing left to lose, they lose it. Thus, with an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent, crime is rampant. With crime pervasive and its murder rate the second highest in the world, some 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015, many moving to nations throughout South America.
The failure of the government to meet the basic needs of its citizens has been catastrophic. Venezuelans have lost an average of 24 pounds each because food is so scarce. Major diseases and health conditions, from cancer to malaria, are on the rise.
While each country has a different, unique set of determinants of its downward economic and social trending, should the turmoil across both the north and south triangles spontaneously erupt, the explosive effects will spread far beyond the region.
These factors, unlike any in recent history, will destabilize the region, lighting the fires of a contagion effect. TJ
As the “Global Economic Slowdown” deepens, the explosive elements within the Triangles of Death, when ignited, will not only spread civil unrest, they may also trigger wars across the region… and beyond.
Should the governments of Argentina, Columbia and Brazil team up to take out the Venezuela government – with the assistance of the United States with its long history of inciting, planning and supporting military coups and social unrest through South and Central America – they all have enough weapons of mass destruction to destroy a good part of life on Earth.
Subsequently the current migrant move to the U.S. will explode into a human wave unprecedented in history.