Pandemic triggers inequality and poverty in Latin America

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Latin America and the Caribbean, the region with the greatest social disparity in the world, will be even “more” unequal and the “indicators” will worsen due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which already leave a “dramatic situation”.

This was stated in an interview with EFE by the regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Costa Rican Harold Robinson, who predicted that “the worst impact (of the pandemic) will be on the education“and” will last for generations. “

“If Latin America is already unequal, the pandemic It will do it even more, but we hope it will be in the short term and the governments will react with the right policies, “he added.

Alarming figures

According to estimates by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the COVID-19 this year will leave 231 million people in poverty, which represents 37.3% of the 626 million inhabitants of the region, and 96 million in extreme poverty, 15.5% of the population.

231 million people in poverty… that’s almost a country like the United States, “which, according to the latest official figures, has a population of 328.2 million, the director clarified.

Compared to 2019, the number of people living in poverty in 2020 would increase by 45 million, while another 28 million would remain in extreme poverty. “In terms of social indicators we’ll be worse off, “Robinson said.

For the UNFPA regional director, the pandemic “has two impacts: it nurtures inequalities and it deepens them, that’s the perverse thing about it. “

Economic debacle

Latin America and the Caribbean already dragged a moment economic weakness and an increase in their inequality rates, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the beginning of the year. Now its economy will contract by 9.1% this year, according to ECLAC figures, and it will have a slower recovery than in the Great Recession.

“Some estimate that this will lead us to a much more serious situation than in the 1980s with the crisis of the region“He declared. Since 2015, the region” had reversed the trend to reduce inequality, “this is” the fifth year of increase in inequality, “and” from the pandemic the rates will increase, “explained Robinson.

Informal economy

Robinson stressed that “the informality“It is related to” systematic exclusion, that leads to people being on the street working. “” In more than seven months the pandemic has practically made it impossible to find a life, “said the regional director.

The differences between population groups “They will be worse, without a doubt,” because the most vulnerable “are those who suffer the most, before COVID-19 they had precarious levels”, and during the pandemic “they suffered at first because they did not have the ability to stay at home; they had to to work”.

Afro-descendants

Although 134 million people live in Latin America and the Caribbean Afro-descendants, which corresponds to 21% of the total population, this population group still suffers from inequality and racism reflected in the poverty and low schooling rates.

For Robinson, the region still has challenges to face for the inclusion of Afro-descendants: “The first challenge is the recognition that addresses these structural reasons and makes certain people always be at a disadvantage,” he added.

He added that it is necessary to improve the visibility of the statistics and “advance in the censuses by updating the administrative records every 10 years,” as well as understanding that the current universal policies that give the right to access health and education“They don’t work for many people”, so “you have to go further and have specific policies”.

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