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Central European lessons for Central America

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Small can be beautiful, especially when it’s efficient.

While several of Europe's largest countries are in ever-deepening crisis, a group of small countries in central and northern Europe are doing well. All of them are roughly the same size as the Central American nations.

In Central Europe, the Czech Republic 10.5 million people, while Slovakia has 5.5.

Other small, successful European countries include Denmark, likewise with 5.5 million people, Norway with 4.7 million, and Finland with 5.3 million.

Yet the people of these countries are much more prosperous than those of Central America.

Even the Slovakians, the poorest of the group, have an average income per capita 50% greater that that of Costa Ricans, the richest people in the region.

These European countries lack Central America's advantage of a common language, but in many cases they have found a common purpose.

Some are land-locked, but use whatever port is cheapest, instead of creating national ports, some of which, like La Unión in El Salvador, are expensive white elephants.

The Europeans have no customs barriers among each other.

Nor do they agonize over an electricity market, unlike the Central American energy grid, which was conceived in the late 1980s and has yet to be completed.