Research

Covid set to make circa 37 million unemployed in Latin America, study shows

For sociologist, post pandemic world will be a struggle against authoritarianism and neo-liberalism

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Doctor speaks to resident of the Cisne 2 neighborhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador - Arquivo/AFP

In their 30th dossier, released this past Tuesday, the Tricontinental Institute of Social Research analyses the political, social and health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America. The region is one of the most affected by the disease, with 23% of all global cases and 22% of deaths.

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The document shows that Latin American GDP will likely face an historic decline of approximately 5,3%, which will lead to more than 37 million people becoming unemployed. This will also cause an increase in poverty rates, which should affect 34,7% of the population in the continent.

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Jose Seoane, a sociologist and coordinator of the Tricontinental Institute, foresees that this “tragic scenario for the poor”, may instigate popular revolts on the streets, after the pandemic is over. ‘Starting in June, there have already been a cycle of protests in the region, spearheaded by different interests. They are related to the heath catastrophe, but also to the social crisis, which is punishing the poorer peoples of society. Today, Latin America is struggling against hunger. There is also the start of conflicts in politics, against the measures proposed by neo-liberalism, and the authoritarian attempts to implement them.

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Further, the dossier explains that the privatizations of basic services like healthcare, have proven to be mistakes in the face of a pandemic, and that the region is historically among the most affected by the implementation of neo liberal policies in these sectors. However, Seoane explains that different postures have been taken among Latin governments.

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“The roles South American governments played during the pandemic were different, each according to their political orientations. There are those who have followed the World Health Organization guidelines, respecting social distancing and implementing emergency assistance measures, which eased the impact the crisis had on poorer sectors of society. That being said, there are those who went in the opposite direction, governments in denial, who implemented neo-liberal policies, leaving their countries immersed in a sanitary and social catastrophe”, explains the sociologist, who is a professor and researcher at the Social Sciences School of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is also a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Study Group (GEAL) an the Latin American and Caribbean Research Institute.

Seoane cites Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolívia, Panama and the Dominican Republic as bad examples. “Some of these had 2 million cases per 1 million inhabitants. They had the worst rates in the region after adopting neo-liberal policies and remained in denial”.

On the subject of Brazil, the sociologist affirms that Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, “embodies the most fascist characteristics” in the continent, and that this “has an impact on the rest of the region”.

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho