Latin America finds itself at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 430,000 lives around the world and 75,000 in the region, where the virus is now spreading most rapidly. While most countries have taken measures to protect their citizens and contain the spread of the virus, they also face the looming threat of large-scale economic depression, mass unemployment, food insecurity, and political turmoil. The World Bank recently estimated that the region’s GDP will contract by 7.2 percent in 2020, putting between 70 million and 100 million people at risk of sliding into extreme poverty. The health and economic crises are compounded by Latin America’s deep structural fault lines: extreme inequality, weak safety nets, high levels of urbanization and labor informality, fragile fiscal positions, and relatively weak democracies. The pandemic is likely to aggravate existing inequalities and vulnerabilities further.
On June 22, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings hosted a virtual conversation with Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) H.E. Luis Almagro to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Latin America as well as Mr. Almagro’s vision and priorities for his second term as OAS secretary general.
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