The official ECLAC website has published the COVID-19 Special Report: “The Paradox of Recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean”. The report presents a worrying overview of the general impact that the pandemic has had on the region, deepening structural problems such as inequality, poverty, low investment and low productivity. In addition, ECLAC presents a list of recommendations for the future in order to achieve a transformative recovery.
In the economic area, ECLAC identifies that the already tangible economic crisis in the region prior to the pandemic has been compounded by an even greater blow, with the largest contraction of GDP in a century. This situation has led to an unprecedented drop in employment and income levels. Moreover, technological advances to confront the pandemic have been unevenly distributed, resulting in the region having only 13.6% of its population fully vaccinated. Similarly, the concentration of wealth has also been unevenly distributed within countries, following a global trend. Against this backdrop, while the efforts of international organizations such as the IMF to remedy this situation have helped, they have also deepened structural problems such as debt.
Looking specifically at society, we are faced with equally worrisome results. As a consequence of the pandemic, the regional poverty rate increased to 33.7%. This fluctuation is clearly reflected in the field of education. Although the countries managed to create a remote teaching methodology, the technological gap generated clear disparities in rural and lower-income populations. This situation was addressed by the governments of the region, which implemented expansive fiscal policies of social protection, helping enormously to reduce the decline. However, the figures continue to be a warning sign for the region.
In the ecological sphere, the report highlights the reduction in green financing. The data shows that the pandemic has undermined public budgets for the environment, public transport, and the monitoring of natural resource exploitation, while it has favored high-carbon activities. This shows a mismatch with governments’ commitments to reduce carbon emissions and increase resilience by 2050.
As recommendations for the future, ECLAC encourages governments to sustain their expansive policies and social protection measures, as well as to increase tax collection through income and property taxes. In addition, the organization promotes changes in the international architecture that will allow Latin American and Caribbean countries to face their debt without losing their public policy space.
At RACI, we believe that it is essential to work taking into account these guidelines in the future. We believe, like our members, that creating networks that contribute to research and advocacy on these worrying issues that affect our region is a step towards the transformation of Latin America and the Caribbean.