CUIMPB autumn course on the State and Social Cohesion

LATIN AMERICA AND THE ATLANTIC SPACE - Oct 19, 2009

The State in Latin America: Building bridges for social cohesion?The current crisis is creating new challenges in Latin America. Thus, the subject for debate on the course "The States and social cohesion in Latin America: A view in light of the crisis" was the need to rethink public policies linked with social cohesion. The course was directed by José Luís Machinea, Director of the Raúl Prebich Chair at the University of Alcalá and ex-Minister of Economic Affairs for Argentina.


The current crisis is creating new challenges in Latin America. Thus, the subject for debate on the course "The States and social cohesion in Latin America: A view in light of the crisis" was the need to rethink public policies linked with social cohesion. The course was directed by José Luís Machinea, Director of the Raúl Prebich Chair at the University of Alcalá and ex-Minister of Economic Affairs for Argentina.

Entre los ponentes de este curso, Rebecca Grynspan, Directora del PNUD para América Latina y el Caribe, reflexionó sobre el significado de la cohesión social, poniendo énfasis en la necesidad de reducir la inequidad y la polarización que caracteriza al panorama socio-político latinoamericano, para lo que se requiere construir un ‘capital social puente'. Por su parte, José Luis Machinea abundó sobre la búsqueda de un nuevo Contrato Social que debe tener como contrapartida un pacto fiscal. Ese pacto en pos de una mayor equidad, requiere revalidar la legitimidad de las políticas públicas a partir de una mayor transparencia, calidad y equidad del gasto público y de la estructura tributaria.

Among the speakers on the course, Rebecca Grynspan, Director of the UNDP for Latin America and the Caribbean, reflected on the meaning of social cohesion, placing emphasis on the need to reduce the inequality and polarization that characterises Latin America’s social and political panorama, and which requires the construction of a 'social capital bridge'. Meanwhile, José Luis Machinea spoke at length about the search for a new Social Contract that must have a fiscal pact as a counterweight. This pact in favour of greater equality requires a defence of the legitimacy of public policy based on greater transparency, quality and equality in public spending and the tax structure.

Diego Azqueta, from the University of Alcalá, stressed the importance of the region becoming aware of its ecological potential, particularly with respect to its biodiversity, and that the region should implement policies linked with environmental preservation, placing particular emphasis on the idea that the expenses should not have to be covered by the sectors with the least resources. Meanwhile, José Antonio Alonso, from the ICEI – Complutense University of Madrid, warned of the low quality of institutions in Latin America, which affects the supply of public assets and weakens growth and equality. Anna Ayuso, Coordinator of CIDOB's Latin America Programme, analysed the difficulties in transferring experiences in European social cohesion policies to integration processes in Latin America owing to the generalised lack of a regional redistributive culture.

Miguel Hakim, from the Ibero-American General Secretariat, offered an updated view on development aid in Latin America, the importance of south-south cooperation in the region today and the importance of its classification and evaluation. In turn, Carlos Winograd, from the Université de Paris-Evry, spoke about the importance of competition in the business sector in times of economic crisis and how this can contribute to social cohesion. Oscar Cetrángolo, from ECLAC, stressed the disparities in Latin America's social protection systems and how the mixture of public and private had worsened the existing social differences in the region. Likewise, he showed how the decentralisation of state transfers and their homogenous implementation – whatever the context – has affected the prospects for social cohesion in the region.

The round table featuring Miguel Hakim, José Antonio Alonso and Rebecca Grynspan debated the causes and effects of the current crisis and emphasised the importance of ethics and, as a consequence, the need to correct certain factors in the business culture. Furthermore, the speakers reviewed the changes that must be made in regulations for the financial sector. In the general conclusions, Jesús Ruiz-Huerta, from the Rey Juan Carlos University, stressed that the current model of economic development in Latin America requires structural changes that will enable it to offer citizens not only growth but also inclusion, by strengthening the factors that contribute to social cohesion.

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