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Forgotten Latin America

The EU well knows that when it comes to expanding its influence within a country or region, China plays the long game. But China is also adept at identifying opportunities to make rapid progress, and Latin America’s escalating crises represent a golden one.

MADRID – Thousands of Cubans took to the streets last weekend to protest food and medicine shortages – the biggest display of dissent seen in the country in decades. And Cubans are not alone: across Latin America, social, political, and economic crises are intensifying, with dire consequences. The European Union needs to start paying attention.

Throughout the region, economies have been gradually weakening, and populism has been gaining momentum, for quite some time. But the COVID-19 crisis has plunged Latin America into its worst economic recession in a century. By gutting the middle class, the pandemic has increased inequality in what was already the world’s most unequal region. Now, one-third of Latin Americans are living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per day or less, according to the World Bank definition).

It might seem inappropriate, even dismissive, to discuss Latin America as a single entity, given the region’s vast socioeconomic diversity. But there is considerable overlap in terms of the challenges its countries face.

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