Posted on June 13, 2023

Critics Slam the Economist for ‘Racist’ Article Calling Latin American Workers ‘Useless’

Edwin Flores, NBC, June 9, 2023

A recent article published in The Economist has drawn online backlash after its headline and heading characterized Latin American workers as “useless” and “unproductive.”

“It’s racist, it’s incendiary, it’s insulting,” Alexander Aviña, an associate professor of history at Arizona State University, told NBC News {snip}

The story, published Thursday in the London-based magazine that covers global and economic affairs, focuses on why Latin America, according to World Bank figures, is the world’s slowest-growing regional economy. The article posited various factors, including governments’ lack of investment in education, limited competition, a large informal economy and corruption.

But scholars, journalists and historians pushed back online that the article’s heading — “A land of useless workers,” and the headline, “Why are Latin American workers so strikingly unproductive?” played into racist tropes of Latin American workers as lazy.

“If you look at some of the U.S. press in the 19th century, even into the 20th century, they would talk about Mexicans having the quote-unquote mañana habit and that explains the lack of development and productivity to characterize Mexico,” Aviña said.


Aida Velasco, the consul for political affairs and education at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, tweeted that it was an “unfortunate” headline that was “full of stereotypes.”


The Economist updated some of the article’s language Friday to “A land of frustrated workers.”