Latin America is hurting. By most economic indicators, folks are struggling to make ends meet. In Venezuela, the average monthly salary is around $12. In Argentina, once a beacon of hope and prosperity for European immigrants, the economy is expected to contract next year. And in South America's biggest economy, Brazilians are weathering one of the worst economic recessions in recent times.
While all of these countries are suffering as a result of different circumstances, there is also the undeniable common denominator that they have all fallen under the spell of socialism to varying degrees. Unfortunately for these countries, and others in Latin America, rather than expanding opportunity and raising the standard of living, poverty and misery have set in.
The good news is that the people are calling for a change in leadership. The seeds of change were planted last year when Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was narrowly reelected last year despite promises to spend even more money on lower-income Brazilians. Today, her approval rating hovers around 10 percent and there is chatter that she may not complete her current term. Meanwhile in Argentina, Mauricio Macri, the center-right former mayor of Buenos Aires was recently sworn as president of one of Latin America's biggest economies and, in the process, broke the stronghold of the Peronist government of outgoing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. And finally in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro and his ruling United Socialist Party suffered major losses in their most recent legislative elections.
What does this mean for Hispanics living here in the United States? In short, socialism does not work. And by extension, big government policies also do not work.
In fact, Latinos do not need to look to Latin America to see for that years of progressive economic policies here in our country have done little to reduce Latino unemployment and create the economic opportunities that many Hispanic immigrants have come here seeking. Millions of Hispanics find themselves unemployed and even for those fortunate enough to have a job, the Pew Hispanic Center is reporting that Hispanic median weekly earnings are stagnant. Not surprisingly, this bleak economic outlook has meant that Hispanic homeownership remains elusive.
The conditions responsible for creating this bleakness are found in seven years of misguided progressive economic policies. Beginning with the 2009 economic stimulus bill, followed by the passage of ObamaCare and its many taxes, the Obama administration has made it increasingly difficult for the private sector to grow and create much-needed private sector jobs.
Even with Republicans in Congress thwarting some of the president's proposals, the administration has shown a knack for circumventing Congress to issue job-killing executive orders and also blocked creation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have surely created jobs.
What's needed here in our country, as well as in Latin America, are economic policies grounded in the understanding that jobs and economic opportunities are found when the private sector is growing.
And with an election looming, it seems Hispanics are at least open to the idea of electing a Republican president to bring about a change in direction. According to a recent bipartisan poll, up to 63 of Hispanics would vote for the Republican candidate in next year's election.
If this were to happen, the same tide against big government policies that has been sweeping Latin America may find itself arriving to our shores this time next year.
Ortega is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow him on Twitter @IzzyOrtega.