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Latin America: Elections, Economy and Health In Times Of Pandemic

Reyna Varinia Aguilar PINTO - Araştırmacı
16 Nisan 2021 09:23

Last month marked the one year anniversary of the declaration by the WHO (world health organization) of the global pandemic due to COVID 19 and it was precisely this global health crisis that glimpsed the deficiencies of many of the health systems especially of the Latin American countries, which during this year of sanitary emergency have seen great inconveniences, since the high rate of contagion and mortality in this region, and at the same time an economic system that prevents a part of the population from keeping the appropriate measures, put uncovered the lack of investment in health by many Latin American governments.

Covid-19 has been circulating in Latin America and the world for more than a year, however this region has been the most affected in the world, since two of the three countries with the highest mortality are in Latin America, and in recent months Situations of collapse have been observed in several hospitals in this region.

On the other hand, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty and extreme poverty last year in the region reached levels that had not been observed in the last 12 and 20 years, respectively. Given the lack of money, many people had to go out to work in whatever way regardless of the quarantine in their country.

 So in the management of health and of the pandemic specifically, other factors also affect such as government policies, the decisions of the rulers, the attitude of citizens, the lack of employment and poverty, which evidenced the weakness of social protection systems in Latin American countries.

And precisely taking into account the political issue as the main agent for the execution of these health, economic and social protection systems, we must mention that several Latin American countries since the beginning of the pandemic have gone to elections more than once as is The case of Bolivia, which after the presidential elections, recently elected their local authorities as well as Peru recently elected its new president and the second round must still be awaited, and thus several countries in this region are facing elections in times of pandemic which makes the challenge even greater.

Therefore, we must remember that a few months ago the WHO declared that Latin America continued to be the region most affected by COVID-19 and that among the 11 countries with the most negative indicators of the pandemic, six are Latin American: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina

Health system in Latin America

You do not have to be an expert to realize that no country in the world was ready for the pandemic, however, some were found worse than others, and this was due to the low investment of governments in the health system.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the ideal is for governments to invest 7% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in health. But according to the explanation of the Mexican professor, Francisco Becerra, international advisor on public health and former deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, this does not happen in all Latin American countries.

However, many of the Latin American countries affirm that they do, but the truth is that they count within that 7% the spending of the same portfolio of citizens, that is, people pay their health insurance with their own resources, For this reason, the government does not put that 7% in its entirety, however, the ideal is that that 7% be public spending; And it is precisely the reason why Uruguay has stood out in terms of handling the pandemic, since this country has a health system that works very well, precisely because of the investment in health on the part of its government.

Likewise, what cannot be underestimated despite the low investments in health, is that the governments of Latin America knew how to act with speed, although it is not the most appropriate, they knew how to use the resources of other areas to expand the care units They were also agile in reorganizing their hospitals and in many cases they were even able to hire specialists to treat patients with Covid-19.

Current situation of some Latin American countries:

According to the Pan American Health Organization, Latin America does not have enough vaccines, since more than 210 million doses have been administered in 49 countries of the Americas, of which the majority (155 million) have been applied in the United States. it has already vaccinated more than 46.6% of the population.

It is important to mention that the AstraZeneca and COVAX vaccines are the ones that are being used in much of Latin America, currently many of the countries await the arrival of the new doses, and however, below we will take a look at the situation of some countries with the greatest health crisis in Latin America.


As of April 5, the borders were closed throughout the month, both for Chileans for foreigners residing in the country, such as the Undersecretary for Crime Prevention, Katy Martorell. A special permit must be requested in case of extraordinary situation. The nationwide curfew will begin at 9 at night.

Despite a successful vaccination campaign and increased restrictions, the number of COVID-19 infections has continued to increase in the country, which at the end of March exceeded one million cases.


The Argentine Presidential Medical Unit reported that the president, Alberto Fernandez, who announced that he tested positive for covid-19 for a few weeks, is currently "stable, asymptomatic, with parameters within normal ranges."

The president will continue in mandatory isolation and under medical supervision, authorities said.


President Ivan Duque said that cities such as Cali, Medellin, Santa Marta and Barranquilla are under observation for the increase in both cases and deaths and in the occupation of intensive care units. And that cities such as Bogotá, Manizales, Armenia, Tunja, Barranquilla, Monteria, Leticia and Pereira are under observation due to the increase in the curve of cases and deaths.

However, since April 5, Colombia announced new differentiated measures for each region of the country.


A wave of tourists arrived on the beaches of Mexico for the Easter holidays, which represented a challenge for sanitary control in the country, which ranks third in the countries with the most deaths from coronavirus in the world, after the United States, and Brazil, with more than 204,000 deaths.


With more than 330,000 deaths from COVID-19 and new cases steadily increasing, medical workers have described the critical situation in the country's overwhelmed hospitals as "scenes of war."


Meanwhile, Bolivia closed borders with Brazil to contain the spread of covid-19, and the authorities also made known their concern about the spread of the Brazilian variant due to geographical proximity.


Cuba reported a record number of new covid-19 cases on Sunday, April 4, with 1,162, and has registered more than 1,000 daily cases in recent weeks.

Currently, Cuba is developing five candidate vaccines against covid-19 and has vaccinated health workers with the Sovereign-02 vaccine, manufactured in-house.

Economic situation

In 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean faced the worst crisis on record and the largest economic contraction in the developing world, where GDP and investment fell 7.7% and 20%, respectively. Available data also show that the fall in investment relative to GDP was greater in Latin America and the Caribbean than in other developing regions.

Therefore, the arrival of the pandemic has also deepened the structural and institutional gaps in Latin America and the Caribbean, resulting in effects on productivity and the labor market.

"In the last 10 months, the labor markets of Latin America and the Caribbean have regressed at least 10 years and the crisis is far from over," warned the International Labor Organization (ILO). So the unemployment rate of 10.6% at the end of 2020 implies that the number of people looking for work increased from 5.4 million to 30.1 million in 2021, warned the organization, whose office for America Latin America and the Caribbean is in Lima.

This has led to the closure of several companies so that various jobs have been lost, to this we add that the most vulnerable segments of the population have borne the brunt of the crisis.

"The crisis has had an unprecedented impact on the world of work in Latin America and the Caribbean, causing job losses, the bankruptcy of companies of all sizes and a sharp drop in people's incomes," lamented the labor agency from the ONU.

Unfortunately, the future is not very optimistic either: the unemployment rate could rise to 11.2% in 2021, according to the report.

Political landscape

Currently the most crucial elections in Latin America were lived at the end of 2020 and are still being lived in 2021 since the direction of the region can also be defined in the streets through the well-known protests, since experts anticipate that in the face of this In the context of the health crisis and the economic crisis, a phenomenon that was already seen in Latin America before the pandemic may be accentuated: the tendency to change leaders, who will pay the cost of the crisis, whether they are from the left or the right.

Well, according to analysts, the political course of the region can be defined in 2021 both at the polls and on the streets.

Below we show you the electoral calendar for this 2021 in Latin America,

Finally, as we have mentioned in this entire article, Latin America is going through a series of "problems" from the global pandemic to the economic crisis, which, according to analysts, will be favorable for some Latin American countries, unfortunately not all will have the same luck.

As happened in other places, when the coronavirus hit the countries of the region, the governments that could, began to adopt measures to support the economy, from direct aid to families launched in Brazil by President Jair Bolsonaro, to the public debt purchase programs adopted by the central banks of Chile and Colombia.

The objective of these actions was to support growth and activity at a time when the virus was paralyzing economies. However, today the continuity of the pandemic will force countries to maintain this extra effort and no one knows for how long.

However, as we had previously stated, high unemployment and business closures are high in Latin America, we consider that for the evolutionary recovery of the Latin economies it is to promote entrepreneurship within each country, to generate a direct and internal economic mobility of immediate form.

On the other hand, for an economic reactivation, in addition to the policies that the new rulers of the countries in which there were or will be presidential and / or local elections will implement, it is investment in digitization and technology, since in many of the Latin American countries, digitization and technology are great limitations for the development of the region, and precisely these limitations in this stage of the pandemic have delayed them a lot, for example in the current education system such as virtual classes, at the beginning of These, many boys and girls, adolescents and even young university students did not have, and even today some still do not have access to this vital tool for education, such as the internet, computers or even a cell phone to access virtual classes.