The Forgotten Continent (and My Trip to Costa Rica)

Crsusnet (photo credit of Jaco sunset)

I’m spending three weeks in Costa Rica starting mid-June. My first week will be around Playa Samara (where I’m taking Spanish classes, four hours a day for four days), second week probably around Flamingo, and third week probably around La Fortuna / Arenal volcano. Some of these nights I’m looking to crash with friends of this blog — if you know anyone there, drop me a line or leave gen’l tips in the comments.

In preparation, I’m reading Michael Reid’s terrific (and dense) book The Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul. Reid has edited The Economist‘s Americas section for years. Here’s the premise of the book:

Latin America has often been condemned to failure. Neither poor enough to evoke Africa’s moral crusade, nor as explosively booming as India and China, it has largely been overlooked by the West. Yet this vast continent, home to half a billion people, the world’s largest reserves of arable land, and 8.5 percent of global oil, is busily transforming its political and economic landscape.

This book argues that rather than failing the test, Latin America’s efforts to build fairer and more prosperous societies make it one of the world’s most vigorous laboratories for capitalist democracy. In many countries—including Brazil, Chile and Mexico—democratic leaders are laying the foundations for faster economic growth and more inclusive politics, as well as tackling deep-rooted problems of poverty, inequality, and social injustice. They face a new challenge from Hugo Chávez’s oil-fuelled populism, and much is at stake. Failure will increase the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants to the United States and Europe, jeopardize stability in a region rich in oil and other strategic commodities, and threaten some of the world’s most majestic natural environments.

A full review and notes will be posted later.

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