La Cumbre and its stone guests

 Beatrice E. Rangel
Beatrice Rangel

While the State Department furiously tries to convince the Latin American countries to attend the IX Summit of the Americas -despite knowing that the contributions of these countries to the stabilization of the world economy will be zero- there will be three characters who will not be invited but whose presence will be felt at the meeting. These are three invisible ladies with great influence over the destinies of our hemisphere. Because its effects are going to shake what remains of the democratic foundations while the Latin American leadership seems to be more interested in pulling Uncle Sam’s tail than in conjuring up the presence of these three stone guests.

First of all, Miss Famine will be present, which is already evident in countries like Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Honduras. And it will soon begin to loom on the horizons of many emerging markets. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, has left many nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa without grain supplies. The policies of the Argentine government have reduced grain exports in the world and global warming has decimated others in Asia and Africa. The net result is a significant reduction in the world food basket, particularly that of the lowest socioeconomic strata. In this regard, the director of the World Food Program David Beasley indicated “We are not yet facing a world famine. But if we don’t act soon, several will be unleashed in various regions of the world.” For now, that United Nations agency only has the following countries on its list of hyper critical situations: Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti.

The second guest is Miss Inflation, who, all voluptuous, enters the world stage with the intention of staying. The temporary or permanent rupture of links in the global supply chain; the increase in logistics costs as a result of the exodus of base workers away from the merchant fleets; Ports, airports and airplanes have made freight costs more expensive and the over-demand fueled by plans to help the population during COVID 19 in the United States daily feed the inflationary spiral. Rising energy costs as a result of the Ukraine invasion will continue to fuel it and this will translate into a significant reversal of middle class growth.

The impact of the reduction in the availability of food and the rampant inflation sooner rather than later will open the doors to the third guest: political violence. To the extent that hunger increases in the world and inflation devours the income of the middle classes, a wave of political violence could arise that few governments will be able to confront successfully. Because the only way to contain it is by channeling it and opening spaces for the economic improvement of the population by its own means. This aspect of world reality has led the International Monetary Fund to be the first multilateral financial entity to sound the alarm. The IMF has published a table on its weekly blog where it predicts an increase in political violence similar to the one that marked the days of 2019.

Internationalist; Master in economic development, member of the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States

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