INNOVATION | 11.25.2020
Carlos Malamud: “It is important that Latin America does not miss the boat for the technological revolution”
A new social contract, the Green Deal, new infrastructure, the growing role of cities, digitalization and artificial intelligence to make changes to work, education and medicine, and a circular economy to rebuild Latin America. To close the first day of Latin America Global Risks Workshops, which is this year based on the theme ‘A vision to the future,’ Carlos Malamud, Senior Analyst for Latin America at the Elcano Royal Institute and Professor of American History at UNED (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia — the Spanish National Distance Education University), offered a comprehensive view of the political and socio-economic context shaping the region and the windows of opportunity available to the region.
At the virtual meeting, organized by MAPFRE Global Risks, the researcher explained the situation facing Latin America, which has seen 12 million cases and 430,000 deaths, as well as the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, the short- and medium-term risks and the elements needed to rebuild the region.
Latin America ended 2019 in a scenario where governments had little room for economic or fiscal maneuver—and low borrowing capacity—and there was reduced capacity for economic growth as well as significant weaknesses in countries’ health care structures. COVID-19 has had—and continues to have—devastating consequences for Latin America. It has been described as “the hardest hit region in the world,” with Brazil, Argentina and Colombia currently in the top 10 countries most affected by the virus, closely followed by Mexico and Peru. At the same time, the region has a number of threats looming over it — according to CEPAL, its outlooks point to a significant increase in poverty, inequality, unemployment and academic failure. Malamud warned that 47 million jobs were lost in the region during the second quarter and that 231 million people (more than 37 percent of the population) will be living in poverty by the end of this year, with 96 million (more than 15 percent), in extreme poverty.
Challenges and opportunities
Among the short- and medium-term challenges are increasing social unrest, uncertainty in countries already experiencing extreme situations, fear of a second wave, a number of geopolitical risks, and unequal recovery speeds in markets to which the region exports, as well as little regional integration. He concluded by pointing out a number of opportunities, such as the Green Deal and the fight against the climate emergency, which could put the region more in step with the European Union and the new Biden administration in the United States; the call for the region to “not miss the boat” for the technological revolution; and the need for a new social contract to revive the economy, rebuild society and legitimize politics in Latin America.