Meanwhile, after more than a decade of steady growth, Latin America has experienced a dramatic economic contraction over the past year. The region’s economy shrank by 7.4 percent, the worst decline since 1821, when South America was still mired in bloody wars of independence from Spain. Inter-American Development Bank annual report published in March. More than 100 million children in Latin America may not be able to go to school. Food insecurity is on the rise. In Brazil, 19 million people, or about 1 in 11 citizens, suffer from hunger. The Wall Street Journal mentioned.