Cuba was rated as the least democratic country in Latin America in the second edition of Political Risk Index for the region prepared by the Center for International Studies of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (CEIUC).
The analysis addresses governance problems and institutional weakness in each country of the continent, as well as those caused by corruption or the effects of the strategic rivalry between the United States and China.
Likewise, the index reviews events that are seen as the main risks for the region in a post-Covid-19 stage.
Of the 23 countries in the region, worst democratic performance falls on Cuba with a score of 2.84%, followed by Haiti with 4.22%. Among the positively evaluated aspects on the island, it stands out that it has the highest number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 on the continent.
Nicaragua and Venezuela – considered together with Cuba the three consolidated dictatorships of the continent – they are ranked 11th and 15th respectively.
The study analyzes the 10 most worrisome risks for the region: 1) Inability of the State to respond to social demands, 2) New wave of violent protests in the region, 3) Increase in corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime, 4) Greater support for authoritarian and populist leaders, 5) Legal insecurity in business and investment, 6) Migration crisis, 7) Use of the Armed Forces, 8) Geopolitical conflict between the United States and China, 9) Paralysis of regional integration and 10) Emergence of border tensions.
He points out that “the world trend is one of growing deterioration and democratic backsliding”, from which Latin America does not escape.
This is evidenced in the results of the Democracy index of the The Economist Intelligence Unit 2020 in Latin America, where “in addition to the three consolidated dictatorships —Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua—, Honduras, El Salvador, Bolivia and Guatemala are currently classified as hybrid regimes.”
The UC Center for International Studies launched the first version of the Latin America Political Risk Index in 2021, an initiative to systematize once a year the main threats to democracy, as well as serving as analysis for decision-making by governments, companies and academies.
The director of the Center and professor of Law at UC, Jorge Sahd, explained when presenting the report that the concept of political risk is not new, and is defined as the risks derived from political decisions or events that end up significantly affecting government objectives , after geopolitical events, internal conflicts, regulatory changes, acts of corruption, terrorism, social activism, even security or cybersecurity threats.
“In Latin America a triple crisis has been configured, of governance, with the democracies increasingly under stress; expectations, with a more demanding and impatient citizenry, without an economy that accompanies 2022; and of certainties, with higher levels of political uncertainty, the unknown of the new variants of the pandemic and states with less fiscal margin ”, he stressed.
For his part, Daniel Zovatto, CEIUC senior researcher and one of the report’s editors, considered that “Latin America will face another complex year. The levels of uncertainty, volatility, political risk and polarization will remain high. On the other hand, populism, anti-elite sentiment and xenophobic nativism will continue to be present and the combination of all this will make governance increasingly complex ”.
For the preparation of this index, about 4,000 people and 120 experts were surveyed, including opinion leaders, experts in international relations and other audiences related to these issues.