Knowing and Understanding Latin America is both a Challenge and an Opportunity

Latin America is a region in the Western Hemisphere where a "cosmic race" (Zelms, 1988, p. 3) plays a significant role through its people, their interdependence, their dynamic objectives and their synergies as a collective whole within the region and with the rest of the world. Hence, according to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Latin America is composed of the Spanish, Portuguese, and French-speaking countries in North (except Canada and the USA), Central, and South America, and the West Indies also known as the Caribbean (Chernow, 1993, p. 1535). Those countries are Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay to the very south; right above and to the east are Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana which are also included since they speak a "Romance tongue" (Chernow, 1993, p. 1535) as well. Moving to the west are the "Northern Andean Countries" (Lye, 20072003, p. 128) such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The Caribbean encompasses many Romance-speaking islands but the main three are the Republics of Cuba, Haiti, and Dominican Republic. And finally, Mexico in North America, and Central America depicting Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize as yet another Romance-speaking country. Thus, knowing the region of Latin America is a task that requires research in the geographical physical environment, the social structure of the region and its respective countries, the beliefs systems that inspire it, the economy that supports it, and the governing political structures leading it. However, understanding the "cosmic race" (Zelms, p. 3) is a formidable task demanding total emersion with its people, its partnerships, its platforms, and its power as an evolving and transforming race.