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H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

Political Developments

US-LAC Relations: The Los Angeles Summit of the Americas in June was the ninth in the series that commenced in 1994. The hosts did not invite Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, the “trio of tyranny”. Reaction from the region was negative. The Mexican President sent his Foreign Minister. The Bolivian, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran Presidents did not attend, citing discrimination again

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H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

Political Developments

Ukraine-Russia: Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) continue to be divided in their response to the war in Ukraine. Cuba and Nicaragua – along with Bolivia - voted on April 7 in the UN General Assembly against expelling Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over atrocities committed by its forces during the war in Ukraine, shifting from their previous, more cautious abste

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H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

Political Developments

Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine elicited a range of reactions in LAC, from outright support to outright condemnation, more or less along expected lines. With high level visits from Russia’s Deputy PM and Head of the Duma, days before the action began, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro strongly supported Russia, and condemned NATO expansion. Nicaragua not only supported the action

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H I G H L I G H T S

Overview 2021
● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

Overview 2021

The most notable event across Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) was undoubtedly the continuing devastation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. A study by the UN in October estimated the region lost 1.5 million lives and had more than 44 million confirmed cases since February 2020. This accounts for nearly 20 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 30 percent of deaths wor

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H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

Political Developments

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro suffered another setback in mid-October with the publication, and public broadcast of a 1179-page report by the Senate, accusing him of crimes against humanity (intentional 'extermination' of half the Brazilians dead) and other charges for allegedly bungling Brazil's response to COVID- 19, leading to the World's second-highest pandemic death toll - over 60

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H I G H L I G H T S

● COVID 19
● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

COVID 19

As infections continue to rise, Latin America & the Caribbean appears one of the more threatened regions on the planet. By August, vaccinated populations ranged from 65 percent in Chile and Uruguay to 2 percent in Guatemala and 4 percent in Paraguay and Venezuela. Governments were scrambling to procure vaccine stocks before the expected onslaught of the Delta variant, with the WHO’s COVAX

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H I G H L I G H T S

● COVID 19
● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

COVID 19

On 21 May Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) passed the grim milestone of 1 million deaths from the pandemic. Over a third of COVID-19 deaths in the world by June end were in this region, with around 8 percent of the world’s population. Brazil remains the third hardest-hit in the world (after India) in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases but at 500,000 it has the highest death toll in the re

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H I G H L I G H T S

● COVID 19
● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

COVID 19

The region continued to reel from successive – second and third - waves of infection. Brazil had almost 15 million cases, with over 400,000 deaths by end April. Chile was the fastest to vaccinate almost half its population but continued to see case rates cross 1 million (of a population of 19.2 million), the death toll over 25,000 and 86% of its population under lockdown in March. Mexico ac

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H I G H L I G H T S

● COVID 19
● Political Developments
● Economic Developments
● Focus India-LAC

COVID 19

The World Health Organisation published the following statistics on the pandemic in Latin America & the Caribbean as on 15 February:

Cases : 20,268,965

Deaths : 641,740 (28 per cent of the world total with 8% of world population)

Recovered 17,866,730

The region – which has hardly any local manufacturing labs - scrambled to procure COVID vaccines from all over the world, including India (se

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2020 In Perspective

The year ended badly for most of the region. While the COVID pandemic had much to do with the political and economic slide, much of the blame could be laid on the inability of the region’s leaders to maintain political stability and coordinate economic policies. Violent demonstrations in Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Haiti and elsewhere were symptomatic of popular resentment against the establishment. Brazil was polarized between those who believe Jair

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COVID-19

By end October Latin America and the Caribbean had registered close to 11 million cases and 400,000 deaths from the virus. Brazil was the highest, with about 5.4 million and over 160,000 deaths. Other severely affected countries are Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia. States with smaller populations which saw disproportionate rates of infections and deaths include Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and Panama. Some of the governments reintroduced lockdowns in the wake of a seco

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COVID-19

The virus continued to ravage the region through July and August. Infections by end August are estimated to have crossed 7 million. Brazil led the pack with around 3.8 million cases and around 120,000 deaths; Mexico followed with around 600,000 infections and over 62,000 deaths. Peru, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador also continued to see infections rise. Apart from tiny Uruguay, almost all the countries continued with lockdowns in greater or lesser degree. Brazil’s President Bolsonaro, who

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COVID-19

"Latin America is the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and Brazil is the most troubling country," said Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization (WHO) executive director. By end June Latin America, with close to two and a half million cases, accounted for 25 percent of the total global infections, and 250,000 deaths. The World Food Program warned of a ‘hunger pandemic’ in the region and the UN indicated LAC could be staring at another ‘lost decade’- after a previous downtur

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Coronavirus in LAC

Despite a slow start, infection spread in most of the region through the summer in most parts of South America. COVID-19 panic soon overcame government apathy and denial. Most countries saw sudden spikes in cases and almost all countries shut down their borders temporarily. Central governments scrambled to announce measures to prop up economies already hit by collapsing prices of crude oil and other commodities on which most depend.
 
Brazil’s Congress declared a national e

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Brazil President Visits India

 

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro visited India 24-27 January as Chief Guest on Republic Day. This was the third time a Brazilian President had been India’s Chief Guest, after F H Cardoso in 1996 and Lula da Silva in 2004. This was also PM Modi’s third meeting with Bolsonaro in four months, after the G20 summit in Osaka in October and the BRICS summit in Brazil in November last year. It said much for a relationship that seemed to be languishing. Apart from the symbo

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Political Developments

On 10 November, following two tumultuous weeks of protests, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, Latin America’s longest serving leader, and the first indigenous president of Bolivia, resigned. The Attorney General alleged that irregularities found by the OAS audit - authorised by Morales - of the results of presidential elections held on 20 October, were crimes committed in the “tabulation of the official results”. The vote count was suspiciously delayed and when finalised,

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Political Developments

South America – Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia - was convulsed through October:
 

On 18 October Chile’s government was caught unawares by violent protests, looting of shops and vandalising of public property. The immediate spark was the government’s hiking of local metro fares by 3 percent, rolled back by Congress but too little too late. The death toll rose to 19, with hundreds injured in police firing and riots, with the army called out and emergency measures

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Political Developments

Venezuela’s government and opposition representatives met in early July on the Caribbean island of Barbados for a second round of meetings. This round was also mediated by the Norwegian government and was facilitated by Enrique Iglesias, the European Union’s mediator. Few details were revealed by either party, with the Maduro establishment maintaining its stand of willingness to talk, and the opposition continuing to demand Maduro step down and hold fresh elections.

On 5 A

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Political Developments

Venezuela’s
government and opposition met in informal talks in Oslo, Norway mid-May. Norwegian television network NRK, citing unnamed sources, reported that contacts between the Maduro and Guaidó camps began in Cuba before shifting to the Scandinavian country. The talks were held at a secret location in Oslo with the participation of Norway’s foreign ministry which said in a statement it had had “preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of Ven

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Political Developments

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro made his first bilateral foreign trip, after assuming office in January, to the US 18-19 March accompanied by six Ministers. He met President Trump: the two have a lot in common. Both have emerged winners despite being marginal to their respective political establishments, appeal directly to their voting base and seem impervious to attacks on their personalities. Both have taken radical steps in pursuance of their campaign promises. Bolson

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About the Author

Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani

Former Ambassador of India to Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba and Distinguished Visiting Fellow- AC

Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1978. He retired in February 2012. During his career, he was accredited as Ambassador in seven Latin American countries, resident in Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba, concurrent in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and was Consul General in Sao Paulo. He served abroad in three Continents – Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia), Europe (Spain and Czech Republic) and Latin America.

In the Ministry of External Affairs, he served in the Divisions dealing with Administration; West Asia and North Africa; US and Canada; and had a brief stint at the United Nations.

Ambassador Bhojwani also served as Private Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, Mr P.V.Narasimha Rao for two years from 1994 to 1996, and as Special Assistant to the Minister of State for External Affairs and for Science and Technology, Mr K.R.Narayanan, from 1985 till 1988.

He writes extensively on Latin America and its relations with India. He has written a book published in 2015 titled 'Latin America, the Caribbean and India: Promise and Challenge'.

He is currently a Consultant for Latin America and the Caribbean through his firm LATINDIA (www.latindia.in)

He served as Independent Director in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Transrail Lighting Ltd. between 2018 and 2021.

Since January 2017 he has been Country Manager and Director, Magotteaux Industries Pvt. Ltd.

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