COVID-19 PANDEMIC WEAKENS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS & STRENGTHENS DICTATORSHIPS IN LATIN AMERICA
Carlos Sánchez Berzain*
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic most governments have applied exceptional guidelines with quarantines and confinements, many of them criticized as a delayed response, others noted as partially applied, all while the economic crisis and social unrest grow. In Latin America there are substantial differences between countries with democracy and those with dictatorships, with facts that demonstrate the pandemic to be weakening democratic governments and providing an opportunity for permanency to the dictatorships.
Many of the measures to prevent the spread of the disease are arrangements, by exception, restricting individuals’ fundamental rights and freedoms. With the intent of protecting the right to life and health, governments have ruled to limit or temporarily suspend the right of freedom of movement, impinging on the freedom to work, the right to education, freedom of assembly, and in some cases even the right to food.
In that part of Latin America with democracy, or those countries who are trying to recover such condition, the majority of countries such as; Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and others, have established quarantines and general confinement with the imposition of penalties and the use of force for their compliance, something that has generated unrest due to the advancement of “authoritarianism with the excuse of Coronavirus”. Other countries such as Mexico and Brazil, each one of them depending on the political position of its president, have delayed and only partially applied this type of measures, and are subject to great criticism.
Prior to the Coronavirus, the Castro Chavist dictatorial America endured a serious economic and social crisis. Cuba in a “new special period”, Venezuela in a “humanitarian crisis”, and Nicaragua in a “general crisis”. Now, they use the pandemic to secure their regimes with petitions to cease international sanctions and apply greater internal oppression with more political prisoners and greater repression. They conspire against the region’s democracies, following their plan hatched at the Forum of Sao Paolo, and profit from international cooperation and the trafficking in persons with Cuba’s “slave physicians”.
A central difference between countries with democracy and those with dictatorships is the “freedom of the press”. Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua’s regimes control, manipulate, and counterfeit information as part of their methodology, they present data of low contagion and fatalities or successful recoveries that are not credible, despite inexistent health systems, the poor condition of feeding, poor sanitary conditions and the few or inexistent mitigating or treatment measures.
In democracy, all actions must be framed within the law, there is division and independence of the branches of government, and those in power end up being accountable, even under “proceedings by exception”. In democracy, the leadership depends on the citizenry’s perception whose acceptance or rejection have an impact on whether they are sustained in the government and is vital for elections. Cases of corruption have already been made public and have produced crises and resignations of ministers and high-level officials. There is increasing doubt regarding the transparency in the management of resources in several countries.
In the context of uncertainty and fear in which the world is learning to cope with the pandemic, it is urgent to strike a balance between politics, health, and the economy, but the lower rates of acceptance and popularity of democratic presidents becomes an unavoidable constant that does not help. With the growing social unrest and accelerated economic crises in Latin America, there have been scenarios created that are conducive for the Castro Chavist conspiracy seeking to destabilize and -if possible- topple governments. These are their objectives already under way and confessed since last year in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and elsewhere.
The COVID-19 pandemic has the citizenry as passive subjects of science’s needed advances, while it experiments with new treatments, medicines, and a vaccine is sought. From the political perspective, the quarantines and confinements are only a part of one other process of experiments, a process whose results -whether favorable or unfavorable- will be determined when the pandemic stops. There are democratic governments that are flexible, such as Uruguay and Costa Rica, but there are others that persist in their rigid approach.
Swedish infectiology’s doctor Johan Giesecke claims “there is no scientific evidence to back up the majority of restrictions being imposed by governments” and warns us of a serious result: “. . . the disease and death are great risks, but I believe the political consequences are even worse”.
*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.
Published by infobae.com May 10th, 2020
“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators’ Association, ATA # 234680.