Objectives: To analyze a data set identifying the problems in health and working conditions of workers in Latin America in the context of economic, social, and political developments. To assess the origins and characteristics of these problems. To identify alternatives and/or solutions to the problems.
Methodology: Comparative and historical. Analytical and interpretive.
Results: The author analyzes the development model produced in Latin America between the 1950s and 1980s, by supplying data that demonstrate the regions economic and social heterogeneity. The study also analyzes the crisis of the 1980s and the adoption of economic adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund, with the objective that countries bring their accounts into balance and pay their foreign debt. These developments resulted in a marked drop in economic activity, especially industrial activity; a disproportionate increase in the foreign debt; the flight of capital; a massive increase in unemployment; and inflation and the loss of purchasing power.
In this context, policies to protect workers declined, and health conditions worsened. These changes result in part from overtime work for those employed and the pressure these workers felt to keep their jobs, as well as the stress felt by the unemployed and the deterioration in the material well being of this group. The author analyzes these developments for each branch of the economy.
Conclusions: Workers health constitutes yet another arena of the struggle carried out by the labor movement. This struggle should seek the creation, in collaboration with other social sectors, of a viable alternative for economic development and social change in Latin America .
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico