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Inequality in Latin America: Chasm Grows Between Rich and Poor

In several Latin American countries, the rich are growing richer while growing numbers of people remain mired in poverty.

Despite the efforts of leftist governments in the region to alleviate the poverty of the masses in Latin America and ensure new social contracts guaranteeing dignified living conditions to workers and the poor, the region as a whole remains one of the most unequal in the world—second only to Africa.

According to the World Bank, five Latin American countries rank among the 14 countries which suffer from major inequality. These countries include Honduras (6), Colombia (7), Brazil (8), Guatemala (9), Panama (10) and Chile (14). The countries were ranked according to the Gini coefficient—a figure that measures inequality in a given country by evaluating the distribution of family income.

teleSUR takes a look at the stark disparities in wealth and well-being felt in a region that remains plagued by corporate exploitation, a lack of workers' rights and social benefits, and economic subservience to the wealthy centers of global capitalism.

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The United Nations Development Program has warned that "25 to 30 million people in the region risk falling back into income poverty. This amounts to more than a third of the population that quit poverty since 2003."
The United Nations Development Program has warned that "25 to 30 million people in the region risk falling back into income poverty. This amounts to more than a third of the population that quit poverty since 2003." Photo:Reuters
Chile, which has a Gini coefficient rating of 50.5, remains highly unequal in terms of income, education and social welfare. Photo of skyline in Santiago, Chile.
Chile, which has a Gini coefficient rating of 50.5, remains highly unequal in terms of income, education and social welfare. Photo of skyline in Santiago, Chile. Photo:AFP
Inequality is evident in this aerial shot of Panama City. Twenty-five percent of the Panamanian population has no health services, 5 percent have no drinking water, 11 percent suffer from malnutrition and another 11 percent live in houses with dirt floors. Panama
Inequality is evident in this aerial shot of Panama City. Twenty-five percent of the Panamanian population has no health services, 5 percent have no drinking water, 11 percent suffer from malnutrition and another 11 percent live in houses with dirt floors. Panama's Gini coefficient rating is 51.7. Photo:Reuters
A child begging in the historical center of Guatemala City. Guatemala has a Gini coefficient rating of 52.4 and the lowest percentage of government revenue in the world relative to the size of its economy, resulting in a lack of social services and an inability to expand the economy.
A child begging in the historical center of Guatemala City. Guatemala has a Gini coefficient rating of 52.4 and the lowest percentage of government revenue in the world relative to the size of its economy, resulting in a lack of social services and an inability to expand the economy. Photo:AFP
The largest economy in Latin America with a Gini rating of 52.9, Brazil teems with inequality in relation to housing conditions, healthcare access, education, and income.
The largest economy in Latin America with a Gini rating of 52.9, Brazil teems with inequality in relation to housing conditions, healthcare access, education, and income. Photo:Reuters
Pets at the Dog Resort in Sao Paolo, Brazil, enjoy 800 square meters of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, treadmills and recreational areas. Fresh meat, vegetable meals and a daily wash and dry are also included in the day care fees, up to 730 Brazilian reales (US$228) per month.
Pets at the Dog Resort in Sao Paolo, Brazil, enjoy 800 square meters of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, treadmills and recreational areas. Fresh meat, vegetable meals and a daily wash and dry are also included in the day care fees, up to 730 Brazilian reales (US$228) per month. Photo:Reuters
Two-month-old Ruan Bruno cries as her mother waits in a line to file a complaint after the demolition of her home at Metro favela (shantytown) near Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 8, 2014.
Two-month-old Ruan Bruno cries as her mother waits in a line to file a complaint after the demolition of her home at Metro favela (shantytown) near Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 8, 2014. Photo:AFP
A billboard with pictures of a lingerie model is seen in front of the Commune northwest of Medellin, Colombia. Colombia has a Gini coefficient rating of 53.5, and 10 percent of the richest population earns four times more than the poorest 40 percent.
A billboard with pictures of a lingerie model is seen in front of the Commune northwest of Medellin, Colombia. Colombia has a Gini coefficient rating of 53.5, and 10 percent of the richest population earns four times more than the poorest 40 percent. Photo:Reuters
Residents sit along a street in the "El Bronx" district of Bogota, Colombia, April 1, 2013.
Residents sit along a street in the "El Bronx" district of Bogota, Colombia, April 1, 2013. Photo:Reuters
A Colombian family eats tamales as they ride a "La Sabana" tourist train in Bogota, Colombia, March 1, 2015.
A Colombian family eats tamales as they ride a "La Sabana" tourist train in Bogota, Colombia, March 1, 2015. Photo:Reuters
A young boy collects waste at a landfill on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. According to the World Bank, 64.5 percent of the population in Honduras lives in poverty while 42.6 percent live in extreme poverty (less than US$2.50 per day). In terms of the Gini coefficient, inequality is rated at 53.7.
A young boy collects waste at a landfill on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. According to the World Bank, 64.5 percent of the population in Honduras lives in poverty while 42.6 percent live in extreme poverty (less than US$2.50 per day). In terms of the Gini coefficient, inequality is rated at 53.7. Photo:Reuters
Sunset in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Honduras is known as the murder capital of the world. Thanks to corruption, a massive income gap, natural disasters, and a 2009 U.S.-spearheaded coup against elected President Manuel Zelaya which robbed the country of the ability to determine its own policies, the country is highly undeveloped and extremely insecure.
Sunset in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Honduras is known as the murder capital of the world. Thanks to corruption, a massive income gap, natural disasters, and a 2009 U.S.-spearheaded coup against elected President Manuel Zelaya which robbed the country of the ability to determine its own policies, the country is highly undeveloped and extremely insecure. Photo:Flickr / Nan Palmero
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