By John A. Booth
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Additional info for Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change, 5th Edition
Qxd:6 x 9 10/22/09 4:17 PM Page 15 2 Global Forces and System Change in Central America This chapter focuses on explanations for Central America’s two principal problems of the recent past and likely future—political and economic system change. We believe these are interrelated, driven by common forces, which we sketch out below and illustrate in subsequent chapters. Despite certain differences among them, Central American nations have marked commonalities of history, global context, and political and economic development.
Their sensitivity to the political and economic world outside their borders derives from the very limits of their wealth, resources, populations, and military capacities. Central Americans, elites and non-elites alike, depend very heavily on what their countries export (commodities) and import (manufactured goods and energy). They also have large, powerful, and often pushy neighbors. In this globalized world, problems move across borders quickly, and powerful actors—whether bigger states, international organizations, or even global non-state elites—can usually (not always) compel the compliance or cooperation of others.
Few care to work hard. ”7 Today we recognize such statements, also found in prominent encyclopedias of the same era, to be racist nonsense. Likewise, one cannot maintain that the region lacks sufficient resources to support its human population. El Salvador is overpopulated. But Central America as a whole has enough good land not only to produce some primary products for export and foreign exchange but also to grow sufficient staples to feed its people. And though not exceptionally blessed in this regard, the region also has some mineral resources and significant hydroelectric energy resources and potential.