In her speech at the High-Level Conference: Post-pandemic Economy in ALBA-TCP, Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), strongly rejected the economic “sanctions” imposed by the U.S. on Venezuela and Cuba, two member countries of ALBA-TCP, a bloc whose 16th anniversary falls in December.
“We salute the ALBA-TCP long life because we believe in regional integration and fair and egalitarian multilateralism,” she expressed.
Bárcena pointed out that as the historical gaps between countries widen, ECLAC proposes a more productive, social and economic integration.
“We have been more divided in the region. We are more fragmented, and we cannot allow it. We must move towards a transformation that leads us to a better recovery with more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies, with an energy transition towards renewability, with digital connection, with a regional integration making us depend less on foreign, imported products,” she said.
Likewise, she stressed that it is the time to boost new strategic sectors, a greater productive integration, to implement universal, redistributive and solidarity-based policies, and “to achieve a structural transformation and bring harmony among economic dynamism, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.”
The ECLAC executive secretary warned that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause the worst recession in the history of the region with an estimated GDP drop of -5.3% in 2020, especially in South America, with a minimal impact on Caribbean nations.
In this regard, the ECLAC proposes the countries to establish a basic emergency income for the population living in poverty to meet their subsistence needs for six months.
Likewise, Bárcena suggested to avoid the destruction of productive capacities by implementing a policy of subsidies, especially for small and mid-size business, and in the mid-term, she proposed a change of the development model by fostering a more egalitarian, sustainable productive structure, which includes the universality of services such as health, education and nutrition.
“We propose the construction of a welfare state and a social protection system to prevent another lost decade, which set us back nearly 25 years in the 80s and 90s in the social area, and now, if we do not do something, we could experience a 13-year setback,” she estimated.
Alicia Bárcena mentioned that one of the region’s biggest problems is tax evasion, which represents 6.3% of the GDP, half of social spending.
“If interest payments and external debt were suspended, it would be a great relief for the countries of the region,” said the ECLAC executive secretary.