The first and more obvious change is that the population has ceased to believe in any political leader after seeing relatives; friends, business associates and loved ones be taken down by Covid19 without governments having an effective response to control the pandemic except to lock down the economy. Lockdowns have also made pungently clear to most people in the Americas who can and cannot access good paying, low risk jobs. These jobs are only open to people with digital skills however basic. Well to do could take work home and keep receiving income. Low paid workers on the contrary could not bring their work home as they work as vendors at super markets; pharmacies and other stores. They also deliver goods consequently could not stay home to fulfill their tasks . Neither could they direct their children through the switch from presential to digital learning. Further, their children had to attend virtual school through a smart phone and figure out how to absorb distance knowledge. This population represented anywhere between 30 and 40% of Latin America up to 2020. After COVID-19 it has increased to an staggering average of 54%. Needless to discuss the growth of extreme poverty and the permanent job loss of the lower middle classes.
Lack of response to this reality is bound to play utterly bad at the upcoming elections. Let’s begin with Ecuador that will hold presidential election on February the 7th. Democratic forces are running with a sensible platform of economic policies that aim at stabilize employment and the economy. But the dissemination of the platform has been rather disappointing. Complex and verbose speeches au lieu of effective micros to be launched through cell phones where the basics are spelled out to the public making these people understand how crucial the election is to development and devising an inclusive communications strategy should have been paramount These new forms of communications include asking viewers to rate micros and to answer a few questions that could shed light on their current employment status. This information would be quite useful for two purposes. First to contact people directly when vaccines become available and give them appointments to get the shot. Second, for job placement as the logistics of distributing the vaccines demand more people on the roads transporting the cure. And as no innovative approach to bring the left behind is made probability that they fall prey to the sirens songs of populism that would like to revert progress and install a perpetual and corrupt leader grow exponentially.
The rest of Latin American countries are entering their electoral challenges very much like Ecuador. They seem to forget that their region is experiencing the third wave of the other disease: Marxist populism disseminated by Cuba and enshrined in Venezuela. Should democratic parties fail to attract the hopeless, the region could revert to the 1980s when there were about three democratic societies. The rest were authoritarian dictatorships. This time however there is another variant of the disease: populism with the Marxists steroids. And it seems to be resistant to most treatments. In Cuba it has lasted for six decades.
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