‘Cuento Chino’ literally means, the Chinese Story but in Latin America it means an ‘exaggerated and difficult-to-believe story’. When the Chinese started entering Latin America in the beginning of the 21st century with promises of billions of dollars of trade, investment and credit, the Latinos thought it was just a ‘cuento chino’ or magical realism. But the Chinese proved them wrong and have over delivered on their promises, becoming the largest creditor, the second largest trade partner and major investor for the region.
Before the arrival of the Chinese, the young Latin American democracies reborn in the eighties from military dictatorships were given large doses of neo-liberalism in the form of ‘Washington Consensus’. The Latinos were disenchanted with the US and Europe who had caused the financial crisis and lament this period as the ‘lost decade’. It pushed people into poverty and widened inequalities in society. It is at this crucial time that China came in and led Latin America to its 'decade of growth and prosperity' in the new century. The talk will focus on the Chinese story in Latin America since early 2000s – rising trade, huge investments, close relations and then a decline in the recent years. While the Latin Americans have recognized the importance of China for their future, they have also realised the perils and risks of over dependence on the Dragon and its neo-imperial and arrogant behaviour. As part of the diversification strategy, the Latin Americans want to engage with India more seriously, attracted by its large and growing market.
About the Speaker
Ambassador R. Viswanathan retired as the Ambassador of India to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay (2007-2012). He has earlier served as the Head of the Latin America Division in the Ministry of External Affairs of India (2004-2007); Ambassador to Venezuela (2000-2003); and Consul General of India in Sao Paulo (1996 to 2000) among others.
He is passionate about Latin America and blogs, tweets, writes articles, publishes books, and gives lectures in Indian and Latin American universities, business schools, think tanks as well as trade and industry organisations. He advises Indian companies and business organisations on Latin American markets. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines world-wide. His interests cover politics, economies, history, literature, culture, music and movies of the region. His first book,Business with Latin America was published by Exim Bank of India in 2005. Malgudi to Macondo (2012) is his second book and was translated by the Telegu Academy. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
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