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Despite the growing influence of globalization, the nation state and politics remain the only effective ways to organize society, according to a group of high-level politicians, economists and academics called the Circle of Montevideo, which held its fifth meeting at IDB headquarters in Washington, D.C., in May. According to IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias, globalization represents an opportunity for Latin America to strengthen its links with the rest of the world, but that measures must be taken to prevent closer ties from "poisoning" the region's societies.


It used to be that Costa Rican chips came in just two kinds -potato and plantain. But this past April marked the one-year anniversary of the first shipment of a new kind of chip that has revolutionized the country's export industry: microprocessors. Building on a long-term effort to strengthen its technical education, in many cases with IDB support, Costa Rica persuaded Intel Corp. to set up a $300 million chip plant just outside the capital of San José. In just one year, according to a report in Wired magazine, chip exports of $700 million had surpassed the country's traditional exports of coffee and bananas, were double what the country earned from coffee over the same period, and equaledone-fifth of the country's total annual export revenues.


A United Nations agency based in Chile has sounded the alarm over the accelerating pace of deforestation in Central America. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Central American countries lost between a third and a quarter of their forests between 1980 and 1995 as a result of the expanding cattle industry. The problem became acute in the decade of the 1980s when the region's governments carried out a series of structural adjustment programs aimed at increasing participation in the global economy, eclac said. Central America's forests contain an estimated 10 percent of the world's biodiversity, according to ECLAC.

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