Construction Experience in Latin America

by Sam Ruvkun, (F.ASCE), Consulting Engr. and former Vice Pres.; Kaiser Engrs., Inc., Oakland, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 2, Pg. 313-322

Document Type: Journal Paper


Experiences and anecdotes are presented from 25 years of engineering and construction activity in Latin America. The main things to remember about doing business in Latin America, as anywhere, are: (1)You can't sell them what they don't want or don't need; (2)you can't sell them what sold 25 years ago or even 15 years ago; and (3)each country is different. The following observations are based on experiences in Latin America over the past 25 years, and the work has related to steel, minerals, hydroelectric, and infrastructure projects. Construction practices in Latin America are decribed as they relate to the professional practices of construction management, and to the following factors: shortages of specialty contractors, lack of construction equipment, training of unskilled labor, lack of foreign exchange for importing equipment and foreign technicians, effects of inflation on decision making, and use of cheaper labor rather then mechanization.

Subject Headings: Construction equipment | Infrastructure construction | Construction management | Labor | Steel | Minerals | Hydro power | Infrastructure | South America | Central America

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