Twenty-five people have helped show us the most far-reaching virtuous changes that took place in Latin America in the last quarter century. They showed us that the region is not irredeemably condemned to grow at rates of 2% less than the average of the emerging world. Condemned to be less productive. Condemned to be unequal. Condemned to be the place with the least respect for human life on the planet. Condemned to have the most unstable and weak rules and institutions. They showed it was possible to advance without leaving social groups behind, without losing years, valuable resources, or, worse, human lives in the process.
It was people who brought about, facilitated, or led many of these transcendental changes. Not political parties or multitudes. Individuals. People like Mauricio Tolmasquim, Jose Marcio Camargo, Elsa Carbonell, and Gaston Acurio. They were able to make themselves heard by slow and bureaucratic governments, or they converted abstract ideas and plans into actions and results.
Others, like Rodrigo Galindo and Antonio Seabra, understood the enormous importance of including parts of society that were being left behind, and of the sustainable use of natural resources. They stopped repeating tired slogans and instead created budgets, goals, and results for tasks that would create a source of wealth for all.
Pedro Heilbron, Enrique Cueto, and Marcos Galperin made economic integration a reality. They didn't sit around hoping that governments would exchange diplomatic notes, approve treaties, or build bridges and roads to move goods, people, and ideas in the Americas. Alberto Aleman and the China Development Bank integrated us by building infrastructure, and Sergio Moro, with investigations on corruption that now are showing results respect to governments and companies in 14 countries, perhaps opened ways to show us how new highways do not have to be paved with bribes.
Private companies proved to be the most...