Think in Terms of the Belt and Road, UN Official Tells Latin Americans

June 23, 2017

Speaking June 19 at the 18th world congress of the International Economics Association in Mexico City, Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the UN's Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), urged the nations of the region to look toward China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an example of the economic cooperation and regional integration that Latin America and the Caribbean need, if they are to overcome profound problems of poverty and inequality.

The BRI, she said, "is a very powerful proposal—one of investment, connectivity, of reviving the Silk Road. We as Latin Americans should think in those terms."

Barcena, who attended the May 14-15 BRI Forum in Beijing, and has worked closely with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, called for a "rethinking of capitalism, "to forge a new economic model and "a new paradigm... I'm not saying substitute [for capitalism]; all I'm saying is that capitalism and hyperglobalization have brought us social, political and environmental problems that are unsustainable."

The UN official also warned that nations must abandon short-term thinking and look years ahead into the future. "Where do we want Mexico to be in 10 years?" she asked her audience.

In her Mexico City remarks, Barcena was echoing themes of her May 14 speech in Beijing, in which she emphasized that Latin America and the Caribbean "have a historic opportunity to deepen ties with China and the rest of the Asian economies," and that, "at this critical crossroads of human history, Latin America and the Caribbean cannot be left behind.... We look to China for its guidance and support," she said. "The BRI Forum hands us a civilizing proposal of connectivity and shared prosperity... the BRI represents a renewal and a profound commitment to fundamental values for our global economic and social wellbeing." She called on the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean "to embrace the potential that the Belt and Road Initiative offers, to redefine capitalism through the equality and dignity of human beings."