The Failed Assumptions Behind Central America’s Refugee Crisis

The Failed Assumptions Behind Central America’s Refugee Crisis
A supporter of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wears a parasol in the colors of the Venezuelan flag and with the picture of the late Hugo Chavez, at a pro-government rally in Caracas, May 20, 2019 (DPA photo by Pedro Mattey via AP).

Back in 1996, during a six-month stay in Ecuador, I was invited by an economist to attend a workshop he was leading in an agricultural community in the western foothills of the Andes. The economist and the local nongovernmental organization he worked with were seeking to educate smallholder peasant farmers about the market forces that determined the prices of their crops. The goal was for them to rationalize their yearly planting decisions based on current market conditions, rather than to simply repeat them unchanged from year to year.

At the end of the workshop, which introduced basic economic concepts like supply and demand to people whose reading and math skills were rudimentary at best, I asked the economist whether he thought it would make a significant difference in the lives of the farmers who had participated. He shrugged and replied, “The age of revolutions is over. What more can we do?”

As unsatisfying as it seemed, it was hard to argue with his logic. At the time, the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union had cut off foreign funding and support for leftist insurgencies in the region. Besides the Maoist-inspired Shining Path in Peru and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, most had already been defeated or relegated to irrelevance.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review