Globalization demands: require better intra-regional cooperation: former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos discusses with Latin Trade what the main challenges for Latin America will be this year.

Author:Sierra, Erika Barros
Position:INTERVIEW: RICARDO LAGOS
 
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Intra-regional cooperation, the problems emerging from a rising middle class, fiscal reforms and the new Cuba-United States relationship are some of the regional themes that worry former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.

Some of these topics were debated in January at the second conference organized in London by the CAF Development Bank and the London School of Economics, entitled "Geopolitics and the Global South: Challenges of the Emerging International Order."

The recurring theme for Lagos is that the emerging international order needs a lot more collaboration among countries of a specific region. This is especially important for Latin American countries, which face very similar challenges, from investment and competition to migration and the fight against drugs.

However, the former president thinks, that up to now, these countries have not decided up to what point they want to participate on the global stage as a region, and even less, have they found a common voice to do it.

He also criticized that since some years ago, Latin American countries are divided into Atlantic or Pacific nations, a geographical identification that has political connotations. We should not feel comfortable with this distinction from a political standpoint, since it weakens our power as a region," he said.

On economic issues, the former president explained to Latin Trade that there will be three related types of problems in 2015. This is a political year for some countries, either because they will hold elections or new administrations have recently taken power.

The first of the new challenges is to satisfy the demands of the new middle class. Lagos said that in the past decade, most countries have posted economic growth and have put in place public policies emphasizing social issues, which are "well focused, that help fight poverty." But, he added, "Some segments of the population that have left poverty behind are very vulnerable. They don't want to go back to where they were, and they have new and growing demands," he said.

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