Mexico and Bolivia: A Comparison
For a long time, the image of Latin America was typified by the violation of human rights, cataclysms of democratic regimes, and substantial amounts of accrued debts. However, the region has progressively made varied and exceptional steps towards improvement. Currently, Latin America is going through profound economic and political change which is apparently playing out in different ways throughout the region. Undeniably, globalization has become a hot topic in many modern societies. Accordingly, the outset of the twenty-first century has seen a new wave of political advancements in Europe and other advanced countries that have ended up shaking Latin America. This wave is characterized by its significant referral to the development of anti-globalization political associations that champion a reduction of globalization. This trend is further materializing as elections in more advanced countries promise to strengthen the anti-globalization campaigns in the developed world. Various reasons that support either side of the globalization divide have been given. Those in favor commonly cite economic growth, improved standards of living, and raised wages. Factions against it claim that globalization undermines traditional lifestyles and labor while precipitating inequality in wealth and income distribution. These arguments and the changes currently being witnessed have impacted various countries in Latin America differently with countries like Mexico being rather reluctant to embrace the anti-globalization stance now common throughout the region while others like Bolivia being aggressive towards transformation. Accordingly, this paper compares Mexico and Bolivia based on the geographical impacts of the broader scale changes that are taking place.
Urban vs Rural Differences
In Mexico, close to eighty percent of the total population lives in urban areas with the remaining twenty percent residing in rural areas (Central Intelligence Agency). However, both urban and rural populations have progressively risen over the years despite urban migration exhibiting a relatively slower rate. Many rural families throng urban centers out of desperation for work. Accordingly, poverty in these areas has risen over time due to the poor working conditions. Resultantly, more than half of the urban population in Mexico lives in poverty. Besides, close to sixty percent of the income among the poor people residing in metropolitan areas is sourced from manual labor. Generally, households in urban settings spend a greater portion of their incomes on rent and housing as compared to their rural counterparts. Currently, the unemployed adults constitute about one-third of the total adult population and thus most families fight to live on slightly more than five U.S. dollars a day. Urban communities have been victims of limited access to education and medical care, rising food prices, political and gang violence, as well as drug abuse and alcoholism. Rural communities in Mexico also struggle with limited resources and depend heavily on remittances from relatives who have left for the city in addition to their small farmlands. However, few households rely on agriculture for subsistence as the parcels of land are too small to sustain them. Common challenges faced by the Mexican rural population include malnutrition, food insecurity, and sanitation-related issues.
On the other hand, Bolivia is urbanizing rapidly and its population is concentrated in three major metropolitan areas that form the center of the country’s economic activities. These cities that form the core of Bolivia’s urbanization include Santa Cruz, La Paz, and Cochabamba (Global Programs Unit 1). Despite commencing the urbanization relatively late, Bolivia is rapidly approaching the levels of other South American nations (Global Programs Unit 1). Currently, the urban population in Bolivia stands at close to seventy percent with the remaining thirty percent accounting for the rural population (Central Intelligence Agency). The urban sprawl and increased population density in Bolivian cities have led to an increased pressure to meet the needs of the public. Additionally, the urban centers incur higher costs accruing from congestion, increased levels of water and air pollution, and higher crime rates. Poverty is a real issue of concern within Bolivian cities and ring of small towns has emerged around them, also with a population living in abject poverty. Additionally, urbanization has precipitated new problems affecting the youth, particularly prostitution, delinquency, criminal gangs, and drugs (UNICEF). Rural Bolivia also struggles with poverty. According to the World Bank, sixty percent of rural inhabitants in the country live below the poverty line while forty percent fall in the class of the extremely poor (The World Bank Group). Such conditions increase their vulnerability to food insecurity, limited access to essential services and economic opportunities. Rural women and indigenous communities are affected the most by these problems.,
In Mexico, agriculture has been a cardinal center in the economy of the country both politically and historically. Nevertheless, today it does not account for a substantial percentage of the gross domestic product. Crop cultivation is the fundamental aspect of agriculture in Mexico and accounts for half of the agricultural output. The main products include vegetables, fruits, corn, dairy products, eggs, poultry, beef, and pork. Sugarcane and coffee are the most lucrative commercial crops in Mexico in as much as the sugarcane are barely exported. Mexico is also known for the production of rice, cotton, vanilla, and cacao. The United States is the prime agricultural trading partner if Mexico and receives about eighty percent of the total exports from Mexico (Export.gov). Following the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the exchange of agricultural products between Mexico and the United States increased almost fivefold. Even though there is still a significant use of the rural workforce, the practice is on the decline. Nevertheless, the traditional Mexican farming method typified by small communities and families working on small farms still dominates most areas of Mexico. Agriculture in Mexico is expected to grow especially with the introduction of better technology and with the various incentives and policy changes that the current regime is sponsoring.
Similarly, agriculture is one of the major sectors in the economy of Bolivia contributing close to thirteen percent of the gross domestic product and accounting for almost thirty percent of total employment in the country (The World Bank Group). Of all the exports from Bolivia, agro-industrial products have the fastest growth rate. Coca continues to the country’s most lucrative agricultural product. However, legally, Bolivia’s leading agricultural export is soybeans. Other viable commercial crops include sugarcane, coffee, and cotton. For subsistence, Bolivian farmers prefer wheat, rice corn, and potatoes. While Bolivia has large tracts of land covered by forests, the timber industry is minor. Despite the significance of agriculture to the livelihoods of Bolivians, sector’s performance had been disappointing for a long time as the country’s productivity was significantly lower than in bordering nations. Such dismal performance was associated with the limited use of modern farming inputs, extensive application of antiquated technology and lack of skills and adequate knowledge among the farmers. Despite its potential to sustain itself agriculturally, a substantial amount of Bolivian imports comprised food products and livestock. Accordingly, Bolivia has underwired its National Institute for Innovation in Agriculture and Forestry to delve into research, offer consultancy, conduct seed certification, and steer the diverse national agricultural revolution scheme (The World Bank Group).
Political and Economic Stance of Leaders
Globalization continues to face indigenous resistance in Bolivia. This resistance is compounded by the fact that the Bolivian president Evo Morales is an ardent advocate for socialism. The president commands a huge following among the political elites and as such persons in favor of globalization barely have a say in Bolivia. Appropriately, Bolivia has been regarded synonymous with the anti-globalization movement. Politicians in the country have openly revolted against the privatization of natural resources including oil, gas, and water. In fact, many private enterprises have been expropriated in a move to nationalize industries dealing in telecommunications and hydrocarbons. The leadership of Bolivia has continued to perpetrate such moves under the pretext of increasing national revenue. Accordingly, they refuse to submit quietly to the economic orders issued from outside. The leaders hold that these moves are meant to advance the economic independence of the Bolivian government.
Nevertheless, it is imperative to appreciate that a majority of Bolivians does not merely reject the abstraction of globalization. Instead, all they disapprove is a neo-liberal economic agenda that perpetually privileged the elite at the expense of the common man. Bolivians are not in any way against engaging in the global economy as long as such engagement bears sure benefits for all. Mexico, on the other hand, is a leader in championing globalization. The country’s current regime focuses on reviewing its economic and foreign policies to enhance its commercial involvement in the global arena. This ambitious set of reforms is the foundation of Mexico’s role in globalization.
It is evident that the Bolivia and Mexico perceive the concept of globalization differently. However, changes associated with this current trend are evident in the economies of both the countries. Clearly, there is a progressive increase in urbanization in the two nations despite the daunting challenges that come with it. Further, it is important to note that poverty remains to be a critical issue to Mexico and Bolivia. The high unemployment rates and poor working conditions render the peoples living standards low and hence they are trapped in a vicious cycle of disadvantages. With limited resources, access to basic services is limited and secondary problems come into play. An analysis of the differences between these two countries and their perceptions of globalization reveals that despite the significance of engaging properly, such engagements should be to the benefit of all players. Then and only then can globalization achieve its primary goal, which is equitable and sustainable development to all.