Statement GCAP LAC: COVID-19 pandemic deepens inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean Friday May 22nd, 2020
Beyond the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very clear that this health emergency has highlighted the profound inequalities in our societies, aggravating the global crises in which we find ourselves. In addition to those already difficult cicumstances in the region LAC, we live in a context of many threats and setbacks for civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
In most countries in the LAC, severe neo-liberal policies continue to be applied. States have been weakened and the power of the market and the private sector (local and transnational) is being prioritized in all dimensions – political, social and economic. Health, education, telecommunications, and all strategic enterprises for the development of a country are in private hands, generating greater exclusion and limiting access to public services for the majority of the population, which are urgently needed in the current situtation.
Levels of inequality and inequity will further increase severely. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), poverty will reach more than 35% of the regional population (215 million people), of which more than 85 million would be in extreme poverty. Women and indigenous peoples will be the populations most affected by these inequalities.
At the height of the COVID pandemic19, the vast majority of countries are increasing their level of debt to outrageous and totally unpayable figures. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, the percentage of debt will exceed 62% of the regional GDP, a reality that will impact even more on our battered economies and once again lead to structural adjustment programs – once again governing and condemning our peoples.
We’re in the red on our environmental indebtedness. Climate change continues to deepen and its effects will be increasingly devastating. There is talk of post-pandemic “economic recovery”, using practices that are extremely harmful to the environment, such as incentives for fossil fuels or coal, which will undoubtedly raise the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Following the arrival of conservative governments in the United States and Europe, migration in its different manifestations has been presented as a national security problem, applying restrictions that violate the right to seek better lifes. With the arrival of the pandemic, millions of these people will lose their sources of employment and become more vulnerable.
It is urgent and necessary to correct the course taken and affirm the ethical and political commitment for the creation of a different society based on Lasting Sustainable Peace; propose a change in the economic model, focused on preserving life with dignity, to restore the natural order and ensure the right to a future for current and future generations, is an unavoidable commitment.
IN THE CONTEXT OF CRISIS, WE PROPOSE:
States as guarantors of rights must implement intersectoral public policies with transparency in order to act with broad civil society participation, ensuring measures to avoid the deepening of inequalities and poverty.
Prevention and protection of the people’s health must be a priority, ensuring full respect for human rights as recommended by the WHO and the OHCHR, and health equipment for health personnel and citizens.
In the next six months, the right to food must be guaranteed and food must be provided to those who will not be able to obtain it due to lack of income; workers, older adults, rural women and women who are heads of household, persons with disabilities and families in situations of poverty. It is fundamental to define policies to promote food, ecological and environmental sovereignty for the agricultural, farming, peasant and indigenous sectors, in conjunction with social movements and organizations, cooperatives, networks of women producers in the countryside and the city.
To build a welfare state at the service of all society, including broad sectors in situations of vulnerability, through full access to health, pensions, paid work, which promotes alternative economies such as agro-ecology, social solidarity economy, care economy, feminist economy that demonstrate sustainability and resilience to eradicate poverty and extreme poverty.
Large private companies must have their own resources for the reactivation of the economy, guaranteeing formal employment and workers’ pensions, complying with tax policies that must be of a progressive nature.
It is urgent to implement fiscal justice to eradicate inequalities in the face of the precariousness of life, which is the result of the implementation of neoliberal policies that violate human rights and deepen the poverty of our peoples, as well as to tax our great patrimony, eliminate fiscal privileges for private corporations and allocate these resources to the existence of an international emergency fund (proposed by the group of non-aligned countries) for social, health and economic policies.
We support the call by global and regional networks, developing country presidents and financial institutions for the cancellation of all payments, interest and charges on the sovereign foreign debt by 2020 and demand additional funding to address the needs for social protection and health crisis in the face of the COVID19.
It is urgent in the face of this catastrophe that international cooperation, especially South-South cooperation, allocate human and financial resources for all humanitarian aid and social protection actions demanded by the population, promoting actions with social organizations and movements, not only with the private sector.
Subregional and regional integration in the medium and long term is an opportunity to strengthen Union of South American Nations, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Central American Integration System and Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, as more autonomous spaces and to advance in the self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples; to defend peace and strengthen solidarity, internationalism and the fight against corruption by implementing economic policies through broad social pacts.
As GCAP-LAC, we prepare to work on the recovery and to constuct new processes which promote alternative models, based on the sectors we currently work with in various countries. We work to accompany them in their inclusion in the public policies through dialogue, monitoring of public institutions, organizations and social movements, positioning realities and proposals in the national, regional and global spaces with the purpose to eradicate poverty and inequalities.
Let us strengthen global solidarity and internationalism among people!