Latin America faces political uncertainty as toll of pandemic felt

Bogotá, May 30 (EFE).- Latin America is at a crossroads of political uncertainty due the democratic erosion and a bulge of socio-economic discontent brought forth by the pandemic, challenges exacerbated by anxieties over the fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the United States’ perceived growing disinterest in the region.

The Latin America and the Caribbean region was hit harder by the pandemic than anywhere else in the world. Although home to just 8.4% of the global population, it accounted for 32.1% of all reported direct and indirect Covid-19 deaths, which are estimated to stand at 14.9 million according to the World Health Organization.

The prolonged public health and social crisis foisted on the region has skyrocketed poverty to unprecedented levels and set back equality and employment aims.

The Latin American and Caribbean economic commission (Cepal) has stated that 20 million jobs were lost as a result of the pandemic and that a third of the region’s inhabitants live in poverty.

The health crisis has also served as a power-grabbing opportunity for some governments, according to an annual political risk index carried out by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile’s international center of studies.

“New authoritarianism has emerged in impatient and distrustful societies hit hard by the health emergency,” the report noted.

Latin American governability faces another tough year, it warned.

“The levels of uncertainty, volatility, political risk and polarization remain high,” the report said while “populism, anti-elite sentiment and nativist xenophobia” continued to be active factors in the political landscape.

Half of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean show signs of democratic erosion, according to the institute for democracy and electoral assistance (IDEA).

José Miguel Vivanco, a Chilean human rights lawyer, told Efe: “The current panorama in Latin America in terms of democratic values and respect for the rule of law is very precarious. I would go as far to say it is bleak.” EFE


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