The Future of the Information Revolution in Latin America
Proceedings of an International Conference
Reports the results of a conference held to chart the future course of changes brought about by the revolution in information technology (IT) in Latin America. Although there are vast differences among Latin American nations, they face many similar problems. Their governments, though relatively important users of IT, have taken a "fiscal" rather than a "consumer" viewpoint, so that IT products remain expensive. E-commerce has been hampered by people's lack of credit cards and the lack of infrastructure for delivering purchases, and there are few Internet start-up companies because of a lack of financing. However, the successful experience of some nations, such as Costa Rica and several of the island states, has shown that it is not necessary to create IT products to use them effectively. NAFTA gives Mexico a special set of connections to the United States, including in IT. Mexico weathered the financial crises of the 1990s better than other regions because it was so closely tied to a booming U.S. economy. Although desires for national or regional autonomy will persist in Latin America, autonomy should not mean disconnecting but rather trying to structure connections to the global economy in a way that will provide maximum advantage to the nation and its citizens.