The Ibero-American Summit held in Andorra has a clear objective, to try to solve the mismanagement of Latin America by the COVID-19

Health crisis in Latin America becomes focus of discussion at Ibero-American Summit

AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE - King Felipe VI of Spain, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, French President's representative Patrick Strzoda, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Andorra's head of government Xavier Espot pose for a photo during the opening ceremony of the XXVII Ibero-American Summit in Soldeu, Andorra, April 20, 2021.

The mechanisms for distributing vaccines in the Latin American region have become the first point of discussion on the agenda of the Ibero-American Summit, as well as what measures should be applied to retain the virus in the region and how an economic recovery can be established.  The Summit was inaugurated on Tuesday evening, with the participation of King Felipe VI, who demanded a "robust, fair and sustainable" solution to the crisis caused by COVID-19 and spoke about how Spain must play an important role in helping in the economic recovery; "it must serve as a basis for overcoming the current crisis soon, in the most robust, fair and sustainable way possible", said the head of state at the Congress Centre in Andorra la Vella. 

It should be remembered that this Ibero-American Summit was scheduled for November last year, but had to be postponed due to the world situation. Of the 22 countries invited, only five heads of state were able to attend in person, the representatives of the three peninsular countries, Portugal, Spain and the host Andorra, as well as Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, who will host the summit in future editions, the rest of the presidents participating virtually. The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to participate in the forum and it is not yet known whether the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benítez, will take part. The summit is not only attended by politicians, but also by a good representation of private industry, entrepreneurs and trade unions. 

El presidente del Gobierno español, Pedro Sánchez, a la izquierda, habla con el rey Felipe de España durante la cumbre de líderes latinoamericanos en Andorra la Valla en Andorra, el martes 20 de abril de 2021 PHOTO/BALLESTEROS via AP

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, pledged to make several vaccines available to Latin American countries, in coordination with the European Union, when possible. In this way, Spain wants to return to being the link between Europe and Latin America, in order to be one of the sources of income for the countries in the region, and to help the States to deal with the health and economic crisis, remembering that Latin America represents 8% of the world's population and has registered 29% of deaths from AIDS-19 since the pandemic began. "They have put the general interest and a short- and medium-term vision before any other consideration....... we are already at the beginning of the end and, of course, the State as a whole is going to help its companies and its workers to withstand this last stretch of the pandemic," said the President of the Spanish Government. Sánchez referred to the implementation of strong international trade between the old continent and the countries of the Ibero-American region: "Europe and the Ibero-American community have a great deal to do over the next few years to consolidate free trade agreements between the regional blocs that are present here".

El copríncipe de Andorra y obispo de Urgell, Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia I, el presidente de la República Dominicana, Luis Abinader, y el jefe de Gobierno de Andorra, Xavier Espot, pasan revista a una guardia de honor durante la llegada de los jefes de Estado a la XXVII Cumbre Iberoamericana en Andorra la Vella, el 20 de abril de 2021 AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE

The heads of state of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic criticised the Covax mechanism as a distributor of vaccines. Vaccine production has been too small for global demand; in Latin America most of these vaccines have been divided between Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Luis Abinader, the Dominican president, expressed his frustration, calling it a "lack of solidarity" from the European Union and developed countries regarding access to vaccines. "One issue that we must address at this summit, and later among our countries, is that from this pandemic crisis we cannot move on to a financial crisis, a financial crisis that could destabilise many of our countries socially," said President Abinader.

El copríncipe de Andorra y obispo de Urgell, Joan-Enric Vives Sicilia I, el presidente de Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, y el jefe de Gobierno de Andorra, Xavier Espot, posan durante la llegada de los jefes de Estado a la XXVII Cumbre Iberoamericana en Andorra la Vella, el 20 de abril de 2021 AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE

The Guatemalan president also expressed his rejection of the system, "the Covax system has been a failure, I have said it myself, protesting against this irresponsibility, where a small group of countries have all the vaccines and the vast majority of us do not have access". Most of the countries in the Latin American region have bilateral agreements with some pharmaceutical companies, but it is estimated that most of the doses will be delivered through donations from international organisations to the poorest countries, where it is expected that they will be able to immunise their entire population by 2023.  

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.