Think Tank
Pandemic Challenges: Perspectives From Latin America

In the following years, we will find ourselves more experienced and knowledgeable, and although we will not be less worried, we will see more clearly what is happening around us. We will be conscious of our budgetary weaknesses, the social frailty caused by long-lasting isolation and the inadequacies and inefficiencies of the vaccination processes and the global health system as a whole, writes Ambassador José Octavio Bordón, President of the Argentine Council of International Relations (CARI). The article is published as part of the Valdai Club’s Think Tank project, continuing the collaboration between the ValdaiClub and CARI. 

“The bravest sight in the world is to see a great person struggling against adversity”, sentenced Roman thinker Seneca centuries ago. Nowadays we can update this quote framing how courageous humanity is facing the coronavirus, while expecting that the vaccines will be effective enough, and to be spread all around the world ASAP to save millions of lives. 

This brave spirit to challenge Covid is all over the world daily, although I would like to share a perspective from Latin America. I must stress this issue because this area has been one of the regions most affected by the virus: not only in the health and human services sector but also in the economic and social arenas, our region may not be the poorest, but it is one of the most uneven in the world. 

The consequences of the world’s uncertainties, brought by the change of an Era, can be thought of as either great advances or complicated issues. Among many items, we can mention the deepening inequality within countries or between different regions, aside from the ever-growing environmental problems that now concern us. This has become a paradox, like being stranded in the middle of a perfect storm: at the historical moment where globalization has reached its peak, we have the weakest global governance ever, multilateralism is beginning to fail, and the Latin American regional cooperation is enfeebling. 

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Respectfully, I must say (and this is the gist of our analysis) that there has been a weak and confusing role of multilateral organizations in general. There has not been enough regional cooperation, and we have not worked with the expected convergence. Perhaps the only important regional experience that can be distinguished is the relationship between Argentina and Mexico in the vaccine production field. We can openly say that the Covid-19 pandemic has not been only a dramatic issue for the year 2020, but we can assume that we will keep traversing its direct and indirect consequences for years to come: it’s important to consider that besides its effects on human health, Covid-19 has affected us socially and productively. In the following years, we will find ourselves more experienced and knowledgeable, and although we will not be less worried, we will see more clearly what is happening around us. We will be conscious of our budgetary weaknesses, the social frailty caused by long-lasting isolation and the inadequacies and inefficiencies of the vaccination processes and the global health system as a whole. 

I want to conclude by saying that – and I find in this a contradiction that concerns us and I hope we can analyze – when COVAX (the global fund with multilateral participation of big and powerful countries) was launched, the central phrase was that “nobody is safe unless everyone is”. We obviously agree with this, but as a counterpart and contradiction to this concept we can unveil excessive nationalism and xenophobia exploiting pharmaceutical scientific knowledge, used to favor the same countries that advocate for a global approach. It seems incredible to us that even though we didn’t finish learning everything about the disease, we already have vaccines and elements to counter it. This is the highlight of 21st century capacity: a great and exceptional achievement of the global scientific community, but at the same time, a cultural and humanistic weakness right in front of a global challenge. 

Let me wrap up with the same concept I have said at the beginning: this is a great humanitarian challenge, and we must continue together dealing with this Pandemic.

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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.