The deadly combination of coronavirus and neoliberalism in Latin America

Coronavirus Latin AmericaLatin America has become a new epicentre of the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, as the death toll rapidly increases in countries with US-backed neoliberal governments. In particular, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru seem to be seriously mishandling the public health crisis.

As I point out in my most recent article for The Canary – which can be read in full here – other governments in the region, meanwhile, are showing that it’s possible to contain the disease with early intervention and the implementation of the responsible measures recommended by the World Health Organisation. Cuba and Venezuela are two such examples.

The differing responses in Latin America reflect a growing global divide between countries that are pursuing neoliberal economic policies and the countries that are, to one extent or another, prioritising saving lives and public health.

Many wealthy Western nations – from the UK to the US – are still struggling to contain the disease despite having advanced healthcare systems and huge resources to deal with the crisis. But the situation facing Latin American countries – with far less advanced infrastructure and far greater levels of poverty – is vastly more perilous.

Countries in the Asia and Pacific region, from South Korea and New Zealand to China and Vietnam, have shown that it’s possible to defeat the coronavirus and save lives if the strategy is to work towards totally eradicating the disease. Rather than accept that humanity should try to live alongside this deadly virus or allow millions to die on the spurious gamble of acquiring ‘herd immunity’ (see UK and US), countries in the East have sought to crush the coronavirus into the ground. They have largely succeeded in doing so. And that’s precisely what the whole world must do to save lives.

Read the full article on The Canary: ‘The deadly combination of coronavirus and neoliberalism in Latin America.’ The article was first published on Wednesday 27 May 2020.

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