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Colombia’s Triple Crisis

Colombians need political leadership that responds to the current anger in the streets with effective strategies to tackle the country's social and fiscal crises, while relying on increased vaccination to defeat the pandemic. But with the radical right and populist left on the rise, expecting this anytime soon is wishful thinking.

BOGOTÁ – While the United States and other advanced economies are returning to normalcy, Colombia reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to date during the last week of June. Since early May, the country has been recording one COVID-19 death per 100,000 people per day – three times India’s rate.

Meanwhile, social tensions have erupted in Colombia’s cities. In early May, thousands of protesters – many of them young – forced the withdrawal of a proposed tax reform and the subsequent resignation of the finance minister. Later that month, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Colombian bonds from BBB- rating to BB+, below investment grade, weakening the country’s chances of restoring fiscal sustainability.

This triad – unabated COVID-19, social unrest, and fiscal crisis – is not unique to Colombia. Many other developing and emerging economies, especially in Latin America, face a similar set of problems, whereby a worsening of one could exacerbate the others.

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