from Latin America's Moment and Latin America Studies Program

Investment is Vital on the Long and Potholed Path to Prosperity

June 28, 2013

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Mexico faces many challenges in improving its overall competitiveness. In an opinion column in today’s Financial Times, I argue that investing in the country’s infrastructure will be a vital step for creating a more competitive future.

Take a trip to see the famed monarch butterfly’s winter grounds, one of Mexico’s most prized tourist destinations and a Unesco world heritage site, and the desperate straits of Mexican infrastructure come into full view.

The first stretch of the trip from Mexico City to the western state of Michoacán begins smoothly enough. But once you turn off the main highway, the potholes multiply, slowing drivers to a crawl. On reaching the final road to the butterfly sanctuary, only the sturdiest of vehicles can pass, forcing visitors to hire local drivers for the four-mile, 45-minute drive along the narrow dirt road, steering hard lefts and rights to miss the huge potholes and other obstacles along the way. Though just one hundred miles from Mexico’s capital, it takes nearly four hours to reach the site.

This trip is not an anomaly. According to the World Bank, less than 40 percent of Mexico’s roads are paved, unchanged over the last decade.

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