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Latin America’s Lost Decades

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Latin America’s Lost Decades

The Toll of Inequality in the Age of COVID-19

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the scourge of inequality afflicting Latin America. 

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Insider's Take


Social and economic progress in Latin America has been cyclical at best and abysmal at worst. In 2020, the rapid onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused a disproportionately large share of deaths and financial setbacks among the working class, affirming staggering inequality. In this balanced insider review of the region’s prospects, diplomat Luis Alberto Moreno assesses what Latin America has experienced so far and what its leaders need to do to return the region to socioeconomic health.


Latin America is home to only 8% of the global population, but it has experienced one-third of all deaths attributable to COVID-19.

Between March and October 2020, Latin America experienced seven of the world’s 12 most fatal waves of the coronavirus pandemic. The socioeconomic consequences have been devastating: Latin American economies, on average, have contracted 8%, and food insecurity and unemployment have risen markedly.

Latin America could succumb to another “lost decade,” akin to that of the 1980s, which saw spiraling inflation, defaulting credits, rising crime and falling incomes...

About the Author

Colombia’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2005, Luis Alberto Moreno led the Inter-American Development Bank from 2005 to 2020.

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