Brazil has a serious problem: Its economy is growing too fast. No kidding. In today's global environment of sluggish growth and fears of a recessionary "double dip," word of this peculiar challenge facing Brazilian policymakers might sound like the setup for a joke. But don't wait for the punch line. Brazil, like much of Latin America, is showing astonishing resilience in the face of a daunting economic environment that cuts across borders. The region that popularized words such as junta and caudillo, and the countries that for decades served as the inspiration for caricatures of tin-pot dictators -- not to mention corruption, mismanagement and incompetency -- are becoming a place where homegrown leaders develop savvy economic policies that dazzle development experts.
To be sure, stability and development are far from even across the continent. But now that the appeal of the region's alternative populist ideology is fading, the social and economic policies established by innovative but responsible Latin American governments are yielding a bountiful harvest of prosperity at a crucial moment in history.
Countries such as Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and others in Latin America have found the secret that eluded so many of their predecessors. Their policies are pulling people out of poverty, developing a large middle class, raising living standards, and easing social strife. As people across the income spectrum come to share similar views about which policies are the most desirable, the need for violence in pursuit of change diminishes.