Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arms Race or Poverty Reduction?

Uruguay's president, Tabre Vasquez, is in the US this week at the very end of his term. He met with Hillary Clinton and the article that gets printed in the Associated Press has something to do about an arms race in South America.

Way to steal the spotlight, Venezuela, as usual. Chavez starts yelling about the US presence in Colombia and rounds up 2.2 billion dollars to purchase weapons and all the talk focused on how out of control he is. As printed, "Vazquez said he feared that an arms race in the region could divert funds from economic development in the poor countries of the region." And how true that is. Instead of playing with guns, why don't we earmark some funds for social justice, economic reform, or poverty reduction?

This article, Uruguay: A Chance to Leave Poverty Behind suggests that adequate funding for programs like "Plan de Equidad" (aimed at reducing poverty in the nation) implemented by the Ministry of Social Development can have some real results. For example, almost 12 percent of the Uruguay's population that was considered under the poverty line 4 years ago, no longer is and extreme poverty rates dropped from 4 percent in 2004 to 1.5 percent in 2008. The plan includes "initiatives like the food purchase card, new homeless shelters, the expansion of free health coverage, literacy and social inclusion programmes, and programmes for generating decent, stable employment, improving housing, providing free dental care, and offering free eye operations." While these services do have a socialist bent, they appear to be working (along with economic reform) to help the poor in Uruguay, and they are certainly better than investing an outrageous regional arms race.

No comments:

Post a Comment