Latin America and the Caribbean are at an historical crossroad as governments face monumental economic and political decisions that will affect the future of their people, their country and their region. From the rise of reconciliation and engagement to the collapse of commodity prices, events are creating a set of opportunities and challenges that will require bold leadership if countries are to engineer the resilient economies that will lead to national prosperity and stability.
It is precisely because of these challenges that we have selected this as a theme for the 5th annual World Strategic Forum, presented by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.
Although there are major storylines for every nation in the region, it is safe to say that Brazil, Mexico and Cuba are at major political and economic crossroads that will challenge their leaders in different ways.
In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff faces mounting public discontent as she navigates the country’s hobbling economy through the rubble of the Commodity Boom. According to a survey of economists by the country’s central bank in January, Brazil’s GDP is expected to grow an anemic 0.5 percent in 2015, which comes on the heels of an even worse 0.15 percent in 2014.
The question for Rousseff and her team is whether they are ready to invest the political capital required to push through the painful economic reforms needed to pull the economy through this very rough patch.
Another regional power facing a major crossroad is Mexico. Although the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto started with some doubts, his early moves to reform the oil and education sectors were promising signs. As the U.S. economy roared back to life after the financial crisis of 2008, Mexico was well positioned to take advantage. Then came the horrific tragedy with the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero. This tragedy, coupled with the collapse of oil prices, will prove to be challenging.
Finally, there is Cuba, The most unexpected shift in the region occurred last December when the U.S. and Cuban governments announced that they had been secretly meeting for over a year and were ready to move forward with reestablishing relations after a five-decade cold war. This seismic shift toward engagement and reconciliation leads Cuba to a very intriguing crossroad.
The government of Raúl Castro must now decide how it wishes to use the economic opportunities of its newfound engagement with its super power neighbor and how to grapple with the political side effects these can produce. If Castro fails to open his economy now, he assumes the risks of the hardships that he would traditionally blame on the U.S. embargo and if he opens, the new found economic lift it produces could change the expectations of Cubans, leading to widespread political discontent.
While the World Strategic Forum focuses on global issues, our moving it to Miamirecognizes the unique opportunities and challenges in the region. Speakers will discuss issues ranging from global finance, to global trade to infrastructure and real estate. We are excited to see what the future holds and look forward to helping the region move toward more engagement and understanding.
Remillard is CEO of the World Strategic Forum
If you go
The Miami World Strategic Forum begins Monday at the Biltmore Hotel. More information at 866-865-2225 or forum-americas.org/miami.