Global Practices

Latin America: Civil Society on the Rise

As the size of the middle class continues to grow in Latin America, measurable amounts of Trust and desires for change have been altered.



On Feb. 29 we brought Latin America to New York showcasing the growing interest in the region beyond its own borders. We partnered with The Wall Street Journal Americas to present the regional findings of Trust to an audience of 50 professionals from financial institutions and professional and civil organizations heavily involved in the region. Participants enjoyed a dynamic and profound discussion that was led by Edelman’s Gail Becker, chair of Canada, Latin America and Western Region, U.S., and supported by panelists Dr. Michel Léonard, chief economist and senior vice president of Alliant Insurance, Edward Schumacher Matos, ombudsman for NPR and Luanne Zurlo, president and founder of Worldfund. Cristina Aby-Azar, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Americas, moderated the event.

As a Latin American myself, I was particularly interested by the debate triggered by the results of this year’s Trust study:

  • Perfect Decade: The 2000’s moved a large amount of the population into the lower-middle and middle classes, which has consequently generated a growing sense of civic organization.
  • Shift: The continued growth of civic organization and adoption of social media are challenging traditional institutions vertical approach.
  • Interpretation: Trust showed that Latin Americans are asking for more regulation – despite the fact that the region is by far over-regulated – an audience member commented that most likely people are asking for more rule of law and enforcement in a region where corruption and crime are rampant.
  • Concern: Economic growth has given more political girth to governments, generating fears of new nationalization in the natural resources sector. This is especially true as the global economy remains uncertain and governments are forced to look for additional revenue centers.

As the region continues to grow (even at a slower pace) and a more mature and larger middle class builds a stronger sense of civil society, the public will be increasingly hungry for more independent and trustable sources of information. This will ultimately force organizations from government, the private sector and the non-for-profit world to review the ways in which they engage with stakeholders.

The following video summarizes some of the most interesting points discussed during the breakfast. Also check The Wall Street Journal Americas coverage of the discussion in Portuguese and Spanish.

Gastón Terrones Dimant is the senior vice president of Corporate Communications at Edelman.

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