In several countries in the region, people are starting to become dissatisfied because of the poor crisis management of their governments. In Paraguay, the protests could lead to the first political change of government because of Corona. In many cases, politicians are using the Corona crisis to push through laws that primarily serve their own interests. Both right-wing and left-wing populists are gaining popularity. The political center is losing.
by Alexander Busch, Latin America correspondent for Handelsblatt and Neue Zürcher Zeitung
In neighboring countries, politicians and the government are watching closely what is happening in Paraguay. Impeachment proceedings could soon be initiated against President Mario Abdo Benítez there. People have been protesting for days because of the delayed start of vaccination and corruption in the state health authorities. The situation is unpredictable, the situation unclear.
Tension is also rising in the rest of the continent. Things are still rather quiet, partly because of the lockdowns and social distancing measures that make mass protests difficult. But that could change at any moment. Because the annoyance with the politicians is growing.
Brazil is heading for 3,000 Corona deaths a day. But the government and Congress are primarily concerned with themselves: Politicians are trying to use the distraction of the people to wave through legislative packages in Congress with which they want to secure privileges and protection from the judiciary.
In Argentina, too, Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is trying to guarantee impunity for herself and her family by interfering with the judiciary. Several corruption proceedings are underway against her. At the same time, the vaccination campaign is faltering. In addition, several dozen leading politicians have been vaccinated.
The same thing has happened in Peru – the country suffering most from the pandemic and its economic consequences in South America. There, government politicians have also been exposed as vaccine pushers. Disillusionment with the political caste in the Andean country could also favor a right-wing populist candidate in the April 11 elections.
In Bolivia, following the municipal and regional elections, the judiciary arrested former interim president Jeanine Áñez and several of her ex-ministers on charges of “terrorism” and “sedition.” President Luis Arce’s party performed weakly in the elections, and apparently the government hopes to still win important electoral districts and municipalities in the runoff elections by taking action against the previous government. The European Union called on Bolivia to respect the separation of powers.
At the beginning of the election cycle in Latin America, it appears that the pandemic, with its severe social consequences as well as the economic crisis, is leading to even greater polarization in politics. At present, it looks as if candidates and politicians from the political center have fewer chances in elections or poor prospects of gathering majorities. Both right-wing and left-wing populists or anti-establishment representatives are leading in voters’ favor.
COVID-19 in Latin America
Development of case numbers in the region
Currently reported cases in the countries
COVID-19 vaccine doses administered
Vaccine doses administered by country