Covid-19 in Latin America: The consolidation of the neoliberal state

Rommy Morales

To better understand what the Covid-19 pandemic can mean for Latin America, one must first start from a vision of the deep social processes in the region before the pandemic. Although the Covid-19 crisis is global, when speaking of Latin America, the impossibility of homogenizing the diversity of the continent under that term must be taken into consideration. In this text an effort will be made to provide general observations, nonetheless.

Let us start with a paradox, that the crisis triggered by the coronavirus is not so much medical as it is political. It consists in the fact that the main actor responsible for solving it, the various states in Latin America are unable to do so effectively, since they do not have the institutional framework that allows it. My objective in these lines is to explore the following hypothesis: Latin American neoliberal states have, in the first instance, the intention of safeguarding the economy (with exceptions such as Argentina and Uruguay), carrying out multiple actions to do so, but not necessarily taking care of people’s lives and health. These same actions, which seek to protect the economy, appear inefficient and uncoordinated, due to their lack of flexibility and robustness, which in turn makes it impossible to sustain the market. In this context, the private sector – a key actor of neoliberalism – stands with a marginal role, positions itself in a situation of victim and performs the performance of affected, appealing to the subsidies and protections of the Neoliberal State that has sought its consolidation.

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