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Latin America: Illusion of changes

More than a year has passed since the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the meantime, the world community has plunged into deep despair, lamenting the “new” way of life, which will never be the same, meanwhile it has created a shortage of vacant places in regional tourist destinations. International flights are resumed, severe restrictions are lifted, and people are getting restless about their financial status, consciously running risk.

The principal impetus of returning to normal life is definitely mass vaccination and the right implementation of anti-crisis measures. The vaccination of people in many countries is in full swing now. The multimillion-dollar profits of vaccine manufacturers, whose names regularly hit the headlines, seem to be known by every inhabitant of the planet.

In some states Covid-19 has already lost the first place in the top to inflationary and deflationary fears. Governments have already managed to adapt their healthcare systems to the new conditions of life, and isolation and social distancing regimes have become more flexible. In other words, the public and the opposing political forces of the world’s leading economies now are more worried about the loyalty of the chosen policy to maintain the economic health.

What is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean? At first glance, regional governments have joined a race of vaccination of their citizens, which is considered as the only way to overcome economic difficulties. The pandemic has struck a severe blow to the human well-being, sending some economies into recession. In Argentina, the economic situation is increasingly compared with that of the early 2000s. The administration of A. Fernandez found the perpetrators in the cabinet of M. Macri, who imitated the “Menemists” and their economic model. The ruling elite of another regional centre of power, Brazil, stays true to its dogmas and identifies the globalism of the left as the reason for the weak economy. The governments of the rest of the countries, apparently recalling the obligations of a common continental dialogue, support the same line.

It seems paradoxical that despite the prime cause of a particular problem, local authorities reduce all the problems to a pandemic. It does not matter: strikes and protests like in Chile, harsh crackdowns like in Argentinian Formosa or in Colombia after the football match in Barranquilla, where the topic of restrictions and the pandemic in general were of complementary nature. People expressed their dissatisfaction with the measures taken by the authorities.

Protests in Barranquilla. Photo: El Tiempo.

If in the first months measures against Covid-19 were still considered a necessary reality and even a means of a truce, as it was during the anti-government protests in Chile, now such manoeuvres look anecdotal. The ruling elites, who have difficulties in promoting their candidates in the parliamentary elections, use the “deferred voting model” (once again, it is worth mentioning President of Chile S. Piñera). Others take advantage of the situation and demonstrate that they have been able to overcome the most difficult times of the pandemic. This model was used in Mexico by A.M. López Obrador, whose party was able to maintain a majority against the background of the consolidation of the opposition.

Considering the current situation from the position of the authorities, we cannot but agree that a return to the usual way of life in the current situation can really become a socio-economic threat. Firstly, mass gatherings of people in the climatic conditions of the region are a favourable environment for the accelerated spread of the virus. However, the widespread practice of fines, the mandatory wearing of masks in public places and other measures do not fit in with opposition rallies and mass sporting events.

Secondly, the insufficient number of vaccine doses is attributed to high demand and low supply from manufacturers, who are accused of selective regional priorities. It would not be objective not to admit the fact that Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer really prioritize the US and the EU markets. But they cannot be blamed for this, for a number of reasons, the most crucial of which is the shortage of vaccines in the very states of the first world.

Thirdly, the authorities constantly complain about the lack of preparation and inability of the healthcare sector to cope with the current situation. The main reason for it is economic problems, as well as a general lag in medicine sphere, the direct causes of which are either the policy of predecessors, or an external subject. The policy of external intervention serves as a traditional tool in the hands of Latin American governments, but it seems that now it is no longer capable of producing the desired effect. The use in rhetoric of “whataboutism” is perceived by people as a cynical mockery. Refusal to admit responsibility for the deplorable state of the medical industry increasingly diminishes the credit of public confidence.

It should also be admitted that the opposition exerts the greatest pressure on the establishment. It is far from being a secret that corruption, nepotism, amigism and kronism are characteristic features of the political culture of the region. This situation leads to the fact that the citizens of the countries prefer to choose the so-called “least evil”. An excellent example is the situation in Argentina, where the leader of the “cambiemists” M. Macri, who had lost the elections, returned to big politics and became especially active against the backdrop of a pandemic. However, his criticism of A. Fernandez’s administration for the vaccination of his inner circle does not look convincing. The ex-president and his supporters admit that they committed many serious mistakes that entailed grave consequences for the state economy, but at the same time note that if they had stayed in power, they could have brought all the reforms to their logical conclusion. However, the fact of past mistakes is not as important here as the fact that M. Macri himself has already been vaccinated in the USA. It was presented as a “necessary procedure” due to the impossibility of its implementation in the country due to the lack of control of the current authorities over the situation.

Thus, now we have a region that is increasingly plunging into an economic recession with accelerating stagflation, which the regional authorities are trying to pass off as monetary inflation; the disastrous state of health care system; constant confrontation between left-wing and right-wing regimes, which are trying to shift the responsibility to each other; intraregional antagonism that prevents any kind of integration and cooperation; omnipresent external factor and marginalized people of Latin America. Does the pandemic really have a colossal impact on regional processes, or are these typical trends in the region that have been observed since the twentieth century? What exactly is vaccination for Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other countries?

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