Open Veins of Latin America

By Eduardo Galeano.

I’m not sure I will ever recover from reading this book. I had no idea the extent of pillage exacted against the latin American people for so many centuries.

You can read the PDF here. I think Galeano must have allowed the book to be copied and available at no cost as it can be found a number of places on the web.

There is too much to summarise, but the question I had never really asked myself was how a continent so rich in natural resources could be so poor? The answer is that the wealth of the country has been appropriated by the european powers for the last five centuries. Britain has probably gained the most in reality, though few of the countries were ever officially colonies. It was British business that looked after the  interests of the plutocracy. Initially, indirectly through the Spanish and Portugese but in the 18th and 19th centuries directly.

The issues and politics here are complex but what we are left with is a study of man’s inhumanity to man. A couple of excerpts:

“Latin America continues exporting its unemployment and poverty: the raw materials that the world market needs, and on whose sale the regional economy depends. Unequal exchange functions as before: hunger wages in Latin America help finance high salaries in the United States and Europe.”
“The IMF–which not disinterestedly confuses the fever with the disease, inflation with the crisis of existing structures–has imposed on Latin America a policy that accentuates imbalances instead of easing them. It liberalizes trade by banning direct exchanges and barter agreements; it forces the contraction of internal credits to the point of asphyxia, freezes wages, and discourages state activity. To this program it adds sharp monetary devaluations which are theoretically supposed to restore the currency to its real value and stimulate exports. In fact, the devaluations merely stimulate the internal concentration of capital in the ruling classes’ pockets and facilitate absorption of national enterprises by foreigners who turn up with a fistful of dollars.”


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