Spread the Wealth?

While economic growth in Latin America continues at an impressive pace, many of its poorest citizens complain the benefits of growth have passed them by. Little overall progress will be made in the region unless underlying poverty and inequality are addressed, said Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru, who heads the social justice commission of the Latin American bishops’ council, or Celam. Countries that are rich in natural resources must ensure that the economic benefits of industries such as mining, oil and gas reach people who still lack basic services, Archbishop Barreto said, repeating a call for a new economic model based on the social doctrine of the church. That model would include more dialogue among government leaders, industry executives and communities, Archbishop Barreto said, about such large development projects as mines, oil drilling, dams and highways that would displace local residents or have a significant impact on the environment—conflicts that are only going to grow more frequent as the region’s expanding economies seek more power from hydroelectric resources.

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