In the short-to-medium term, vaccine sales would greatly strengthen the dictatorship, neutralize the consequences of its extensive human rights abuses, and postpone the ultimate reckoning of its failed system.
Few have specifically studied vaccination in the Caribbean. This study aims to help fill this gap, understanding vaccine diplomacy and great powers’ combination of humanitarian and geopolitical motives.
Several major Latin American leaders spoke this week at the 76th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York City, largely echoing common concerns about climate change and the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines internationally.
The rising tide of misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda has been well-documented in recent years, particularly as internet access and social media consumption have become seemingly ubiquitous. But in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scourge of misinformation has intensified, with a cost that can—at least in some cases—be measured in human lives.
In an effort to reduce COVID-19 vaccine inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) have announced plans to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines within the region. Dr. Carissa Etienne, a native of Dominica and director of the PAHO, declared last week that the PAHO has reviewed roughly 30 proposed manufacturing schemes for Latin American and Caribbean states.
Once again, history seems to be repeating itself. The United States, along with the world’s other rich and mostly Western countries, continue to be accused of hoarding medical supplies, having purchased one billion surplus vaccine doses (more than is required to vaccinate their citizens). In their absence, China—and, to a lesser extent, Russia—have rushed to take advantage of the vaccine gap in the Global South, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On Monday, Guillermo Lasso took office as President of Ecuador, using his inaugural presidential address to underscore his commitment to reviving an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and years of painful austerity.
The ambition and capability of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to affect the political affairs of nations across Latin America and the Caribbean have only grown during the global pandemic. Recent events in Guyana and Paraguay show that COVID-19 vaccines have influenced governments, either directly or indirectly, toward Beijing’s political preferences.
The race to research, develop, test, approve, and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines has turned the search for global normalcy into yet another frontier to be exploited for geopolitical gain, with Russia taking the opportunity to use vaccines as a means to advance relations throughout Latin America.
CARICOM has already proven the effectiveness of using multilateral systems to advance hemispheric solutions, creating an opportunity for the Biden administration to advance common interests in the region.