Latin America’s Little Giant
Beatrice E Rangel
A dear friend who spent her life at the British Foreign Office once told me “ I have learned to respect and love boring countries. Because they home free and democratic societies. Think of Switzerland ; Sweden; New Zealand, Uruguay and Singapore. They seldom make headlines but they are a cradle to peaceful and happy people. These thoughts come to mind when panning over the Latin American leadership ‘s public policy deployment in these times of pandemic.
Only one nation seems to have stroke the right balance between containing the virus and protecting individual freedom. And that country of course is Uruguay. The recently inaugurated President Luis Lacalle Pou correctly decided to treat his citizens like well educated adults and refrained from banning any economic, educational or intellectual activity. He did take it to the microphones to let his people know how serious the health threat was and how important it was to take every possible precaution including wearing masks all the time, washing hands and suspending social gatherings.
He further supported universal testing and following of infected people and their circle of social exchanges over their past three weeks. This allowed health authorities to establish potential contagion maps and alert infected but asymptomatic people to get treatment. As a result, Uruguay kept 80% of its economy working while the number of infested people was about 800 people with 25 deaths in a nation of 3.5M inhabitants. But the country also prepared itself to the ensuing worldwide recession that will certainly affect export markets by reducing by 20% public expenditures different from payrolls.
The quality of Uruguay’s leadership and the outstanding results of its pandemic control policies drove the “Fundación Libertad” chaired by Mario Vargas Llosa to issue a communique promoting the region wide adoption of Uruguay’s approach to combating Covid-19. In particular, “Fundación Libertad” emphasized the contrast between public policies in Uruguay and those adopted by Argentina which issued home arrest orders to its citizens; increased expenditures and killed economic activity. In a nutshell Argentina created the conditions to develop an economic Tsunami after Covid-19 is contained. And this will certainly make headlines. Uruguay on the contrary will most probably carry on unnoticed but its citizens are way happier than those of Argentina.
Published by laht.com on June 1st, 2020
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