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Latin America has reasons to worry about U.S. financial crisis

September 30, 2008 |  8:26 am

Brazil_stock_exchange

After being lectured for 20 years about the superiority of the free market, officials in Latin America see no small irony in the effort to bail out the U.S. banking system, writes Chris Kraul from Ecuador.

Latin America has several reasons to worry about the U.S. economic meltdown. Ecuador, for instance, fears the possible loss of duty-free export markets for its coffee, fish and flowers.

People here are also worried the crisis will cut into the $2 billion in annual remittances sent home by Ecuadoreans living in the U.S., and wonder whether the nation's use of the dollar as the national currency, a move made in 2000 to curb inflation, still makes sense.

But there is an undercurrent of schadenfreude when it comes to America's pain. Commentator Boaventura de Sousa Santos scolded the United States for its "ironhanded evangelizing" that free markets, privatization and deregulation were innately more virtuous than "corrupt and efficient" state-run economies.

"Millions were thrown into unemployment, lost their land and labor rights and had to emigrate," the Portuguese-born Santos wrote in an article widely distributed over the Internet.

Read more about how the United States woes are also Latin America's problems.

Click here for more on business.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: Stock traders negotiate at the Mercantile & Futures Exchange in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last week. Credit: Mauricio Lima / AFP / Getty Images

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