Latin Americans on the whole are poor, although the region also is home to some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Mexico, for example, had twenty-four billionaires in 1994, prior to its 1995 economic meltdown—more than Britain, France, and Italy combined. But comparatively speaking, Latin America is an economically disadvantaged land. If you were randomly born into a family in the United States or western Europe, the odds are overwhelming that you would not go hungry or lack a solid roof over your head. If you had been born into a Latin American family, however, odds are about 50–50 that you would suffer malnutrition and poor health due to insufficient and unsanitary living conditions. Why is this so? Why is there such inequity among the different areas of the globe?