Latin America is a huge region spanning much of the Americas. Its topography, geography and peoples are among the most diverse in the world. Its people, though, by far are its greatest asset with their wonderful music, literature and arts, their lavish hospitality and their incredibly rich languages.
Latin America, however, has its ‘dark side’. With bloody civil wars, rampant crime and, perhaps worst of all, its ever-pervasive classism.
In Mexico City recently, a parking attendant was cruelly beaten for not showing his wealthy employer where the car jack was. It was seemingly ‘business as usual’ with this brutality against the working class heralding back to the colonial period.
But it raises an interesting question: Why does the United States seem to fuel classism in Latin America? For during the Cold War, we propped up the military and wealthy elite of Latin America, in fear of a populist, working class uprising. What is so scary about equal, equitable and humane treatment of the working class in any part of the world? Why are we so obsessed with keeping labor costs low so that our tennis shoes or bananas or coffee can stock the discount stores in abundance, only to be thrown away? Why do we not realize that we largely not only treat Latin American immigrants in the U.S. poorly, but also help create the conditions for which they come?
These, and many other, questions are raised when an employer can beat a worker with seeming impunity. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be an isolated case in a Mexico City tabloid. Maybe we won’t have an economic turnaround anywhere until we treat other human beings like members of the same human family. For even Adam Smith had a conscience, and I doubt he intended that human beings would be treated like commodities and nothing more. And Adam Smith, like everyone else, had to sleep at night.