Across Latin America and the Caribbean, more than one million people have already died from Covid-19, making it the worst-hit region worldwide. The reasons are complex but, undeniably, have exposed deep inequalities across the region’s 33 countries.
Latin America’s excess death toll – those that exceed the number that normally occur over a given period – has rocketed. The failure by many countries to establish an effective public health strategy has been compounded by overwhelmed and underfunded health systems and social protection mechanisms that have not responded adequately to the enormity of the crisis.
The slow response – or in some instances complete inertia – of many nations has sealed their fate. ‘Governments in certain countries adopted a position of denying the pandemic and not establishing policies to control it,’ says Fernando Peláez-Pier, former IBA President and a senior consultant at FPeláez Consulting.
As images of the terrorist attacks that paralysed France at the start of 2015 reverberated around the world, thousands of miles away, in the south-western Mexican state of Guerrero, families were still waiting for accountability regarding the biggest massacre in the country’s recent history.
On 26 September 2014, more than 100 students from a teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa were taking part in a peaceful protest against alleged discriminatory hiring practices in Iguala, when a number of them clashed with local police and were bundled into police cars. The exact chain of events that ensued is still unclear, but it soon became apparent that 43 of the students had vanished without a trace.
Large-scale protests against corruption and violence erupted across the country after a mass grave was discovered on the outskirts of the city. Some of those police officers involved (who have since been arrested) told investigators they handed students over to the drug cartel Guerreros Unidos.
On Sunday morning, 27 people were killed and beheaded in northern Guatemala following a raid on a dairy ranch in Caserio La Bomba. The incident has been described as the worst massacre in Guatemala for over 15 years. Amid growing suspicion that the attack may be linked to the rising presence of the Mexican Zeta drug cartel in Guatemala, the massacre may also point to the wider responsibilities of Mexico’s drug war.
In January, BP and state-owned Russian energy company Rosneft shocked the world by signing a US$16bn share swap deal. The two companies intend to jointly exploit oil and gas reserves in Russia’s Arctic shelf and make Rosneft the largest single shareholder in BP. The deal, which will also see BP increase its holdings in the former assets of Yukos oil company, occurred only a matter of weeks after Yukos’ former CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was sentenced to a further six years in prison.
A stark reminder of BP’s recent past also came shortly after, when the company reported a loss of US$4.9bn – mainly due to US$40.9bn for charges relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – making 2010 its first year of losses for 20 years. The tie-up therefore not only raises many questions about the viability of a British – Russian exploration operation, but also poses questions about the future of BP and the oil and gas industry as a whole.
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