Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, was interviewed by The Washington Diplomat on the current state of Latin America. The conversation examined the continuing migration on the US border with Mexico, the widespread regional discontent during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the lack of integration among Latin American countries as they continue fighting the effects of the pandemic.
Comments from Michael Shifter:
“Latin America is not in good shape today. Social conditions, already bad before the pandemic, have gotten a lot worse. There’s widespread discontent, and the demands of societies exceed the capacities of governments and political leaders to respond effectively.”
“The outlook today is somber. There are protests in the street in nearly all countries, whether their governments are of the left or the right. What’s also a problem is the lack of integration among the countries. The pandemic was a test to see whether governments were able to work together to face this terrible shock that has ravaged the entire region. And the sad reality is that they did not come together. They looked inwards.”
“Brazil is obviously a critical player, and to have a president who has terribly mismanaged the pandemic at the cost of many lives, and who denies climate change and who has intolerant positions towards Afro-Brazilians, women and the LGBT community, is a major setback for the entire hemisphere. Mexico’s [President Andrés Manuel] López Obrador also has not managed the pandemic very well.”
“It’s hard to fathom the campaign of terror [in Nicaragua] happening in the 21st century, but the United States seems relatively impotent in what it can do. Ortega is utterly defiant, and most of the rest of the region is quite indifferent, sadly. One would have expected a stronger reaction.”
“The Biden administration’s agenda is driven largely by concerns about migration. That’s true in Central America, and also true given the crises in Haiti and Cuba. The administration wants to support democracy in both places, but domestic politics is paramount. Biden didn’t keep his campaign promise of relaxing restrictions on remittances and travel for Cuban-Americans.”