In Latin America, coronavirus threatens not just public health, but also democracy

An International Monetary Fund economic forecast shows the region will see a 5.2 percent decline in gross domestic product this year. Declining satisfaction in democracy and low levels of trust in political institutions have led to increasingly polarized politics. As I have written, even Argentina, one of the region’s most developed economies, lacks the resources to address the extreme nature of the crisis.In Mexico, a security crisis, trade tensions with the United States and a populist government hostile to business contributed to low growth.Low economic growth and a worsening labor market meant an additional 27 million Latin Americans qualified as poor between 2014 and 2019. The pandemic may lead to deeper deterioration in these social and economic indicators. Like Bolsonaro, López Obrador’s hostility toward expertise also meant he was initially dismissive of the disease, but under pressure, he has tepidly changed tactics.

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