Business & Economy

IDB: LatAm crisis deserves greater attention

By Ivonne Malaver

Miami, Jun 24 (EFE).- Mauricio Claver-Carone, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), told EFE that Latin America and the Caribbean are urging greater global support for the Venezuelan diaspora, the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters to help deal with the worst contraction in the region’s economy in 200 years.

“It’s a conglomeration of crises that uniquely affect this region (and) which merit more attention than what the rest of the world is providing,” said Claver-Carone in Miami, where the IDB this week is holding the first Miami-LAC 2021 technology forum.

Born in Miami and of Cuban origin, Claver-Carone said he regretted that the region “is disproportionately affected by three crises” as it confronts its worst economic decline since 1821.

He said that “neither the rest of the world nor international organizations … have been interested” in investing in “the world’s worst migration crisis,” which is only “growing” in size and scope.

The IDB chief said that for every Syrian migrant the international community has provided $100 in healthcare, housing and education, among other things, while for every Venezuelan who has left his or her homeland it has provided only $10.

“The international community unfortunately has not paid (the Venezuelan diaspora) the attention it deserves, with the exception of some countries such as the United States, Canada, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, England to a certain degree and Latin America,” he said.

He emphasized that the IDB is working with the Colombian and Ecuadorian governments, among other Latin American nations, to manage the social impact that this Venezuelan migration is having in Latin America, “but frankly we need more donors, we need that urgency to be understood.”

“It’s currently the world’s biggest crisis, however it’s the one in which the world is investing the least, a tenth of what the world is investing in the Syrian crisis,” he said.

Claver-Carone said that part of his work includes “bringing these historic crises … more effectively to international forums.”

On the other hand, Claver-Carone – who said he considers himself to be an optimistic person who can see the good in everything, even the Covid-19 pandemic, in terms of innovative and technological issues such as are being discussed at the forum – added that those new opportunities depend on vaccination.

He criticized the fact that in the region the “issue of vaccines leaves much to be desired” despite the fact that “the level of deaths is eight times greater than in other countries.”

He emphasized that Latin America and the Caribbean represent more than 30 percent of the Covid-19 deaths, despite the fact that they have just 5 percent of the world population.

Along those lines, he said that for the technological opportunities afforded by Covid-19 to materialize vaccination must be increased and the processes must be facilitated “and we’re not seeing that.”

He also said, however, that the Covax vaccine distribution mechanism has proven to be “very limited” despite the fact that the World Health Organization and the European Union have guaranteed access to vaccines for the world’s most disadvantaged nations.

“Although it’s working 100 percent it only provides for 20 percent of the populations, and what’s happening with the other 80 percent?” he asked rhetorically.

Claver-Carone also said that four countries in the region are among the five nations around the world hardest hit by natural disasters.

He noted that two hurricanes hit Central America and Mexico in two consecutive weeks during the 2020 storm season, breaking all sorts of records.

The IDB head also said that he is working to reduce the digital gap in the region as part of the IDB Vision 2025 plan, which he unveiled in Miami and which in the future will also include Spanish capital in what is called the “Miami-Madrid-Latin America and the Caribbean digital triangle.”

“There’s a significant connectivity and financing gap for the digital economy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

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