In this interview with CGTN America, Michael Shifter spoke with Frances Kuo about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Latin America and the Caribbean, discussing inequality, the informal economy, and China’s presence in the region.
Comments by Michael Shifter:
“There has been a real absence of leadership — in fact, resistance to recognizing reality and dismissing the gravity of this pandemic.”
“Seventy percent of the labor market in Peru is informal… The people who live in these informal economies, who by and large are disproportionately poor, are going to suffer more because they simply cannot accommodate and survive in this environment.”
“Hopefully, the catastrophe that we’re seeing in the region is going to force a rethinking of a lot of politicians who will realize that they have major problems that need to be addressed: problems that we’ve known about for a long time, such as informality, inequality, lack of investment in education and health, and other serious structural and economic problems.”
“The United States has been completely absent, as far as I can tell, in responding to this crisis in Latin America. There has been no serious plan for any kind of cooperation with the region in terms of sharing information, helping with best practices, or coordination with resources.”
“China has engaged in what’s called “mask diplomacy,” providing masks and in some cases ventilators to a lot of countries… Latin American governments being pragmatic and just wanting to get some relief from this utter disaster are clearly welcoming the Chinese support.”
Since achieving independence in 1804 to become the world’s first free black state, Haiti has been beset by turbulent, often violent, politics and a gradual but seemingly unstoppable slide from austerity to poverty to misery.