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Latin America in the Face of a Socio-economic Crisis | Mainstage

H.E. Laura Chinchilla, Former President of Costa Rica; Vice President, World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid; Concordia Leadership Council Member
H.E. Jorge Tuto Quiroga, Former President of Bolivia; president, FUNDEMOS; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Mark Green, President, Director and CEO, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Latin America faces a wave of challenges: COVID-19, governance, and socio-economic distress. What is the state of democracy, wondered Mark Green, President, Director & CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Democracy is not what it was, answered Jorge Tuto Quiroga, former President of Bolivia and President of FUNDEMOS. With dictatorial regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and with the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil distracted by their own issues, the future is precarious. Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica, explained that the rule of law has been deteriorating in Latin America for more than a decade and should be ringing alarms among the rest of the world. 

COVID-19 exacerbated the challenges, President Quiroga said, by implementing extraordinary measures that would have been clawed back in mature democracies. Vaccine-producing countries and the UN Security Council need to more closely engage with the region. President Chinchilla agreed and explained that the badly-managed pandemic compounded disenchantment with democracy.

Green asked the panelists about the refugee crisis in Venezuela, which is not as widely covered as other displacement crises in the world. President Quiroga said he hoped that new trade agreements would do more to curb migration. President Chinchilla agreed that the migration crisis is due to a variety of reasons including politics, economics, and climate change, and stressed that the U.S. must play a role in bringing states together.

We wake up every day counting democracies of less quality. That is in every possible index that we can read.

Laura Chinchilla

It seems like the countries that can drive this agenda—looking at vaccines, looking at the money, looking at energy, looking at new integration—seem to be distracted.

Jorge Tuto Quiroga

The last year has seen not one challenge but a wave of challenges, a set of challenges affecting us in the Americas.

Mark Green

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Democratic backsliding in Latin America should be a concern for the entire world, and especially for countries in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Vaccine access, trade, and migration are the most crucial areas to address expeditiously.