ECLAC calls for international solidarity, universal distribution of vaccine against COVID-19

“We must move forward with sustainability to build a future with more equality, solidarity and international cooperation (…) Cooperation plays an important role to move forward with sustainable solutions,” said on Tuesday Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in her statement at the XII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Bárcena called for international solidarity in the universal distribution of the vaccine and to think long term to correct the region’s structural problems.

“We cannot accept the hoarding of vaccines by developed countries, which, at the bilateral level, are purchasing all the vaccines and leaving out Covax,” stressed the UN high-ranking official, referring to inconveniences in the campaign of the Covax international mechanism proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to vaccinate people in low-, middle-income countries against COVID-19.

“In such a complex time, the State’s irreplaceable importance is revealed. The threat we face cannot be solved by markets. It demands state-run goods and services, the safeguard of the collective good, and articulated actions. We need transformative leaderships,” said the ECLAC executive secretary.

In her statement, Bárcenas also said the countries have the opportunity to build a new future by promoting social protection and universal health, examining their own limitations, correcting mistakes, changing behavior patterns, broadening and renewing their political coalitions for a transformative recovery.

Likewise, she recalled that COVID-19 hit a region already beset with structural problems such as lack of real competitiveness, foreign restrictions, growing inequality, rising carbon dioxide emissions and the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems.

“The world community will have to face the fact that globalization did not work as promised, and that it must be reformed. The costs of inequality have become unsustainable,” added Bárcenas.

Bárcenas urged to “combat the culture of privileges, an inheritance of colonial remains,” and to strengthen multilateralism through global, regional and domestic pacts.

“We need international cooperation and to forge political and fiscal pacts to lay the foundations for a universal welfare State in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she said.

The ECLAC executive secretary remarked that the pandemic is causing the greatest economic recession of the last 100 years, with a fall of -7.7% in regional GDP, as well as widespread increases of poverty and inequality.