Introduction: Politics, Public Opinion and the Covid-19 Pandemic in Latin America

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Love, Gregory
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University of Salamanca
Smith, Amy
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Political Science
The Department of Political Science has been a separate department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (formerly the College of Sciences and Humanities) since 1969 and offers an undergraduate degree (B.A.) in political science, a graduate degree (M.A.) in political science, a joint J.D./M.A. degree with Drake University, an interdisciplinary degree in cyber security, and a graduate Certificate of Public Management (CPM). In addition, it provides an array of service courses for students in other majors and other colleges to satisfy general education requirements in the area of the social sciences.
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In early 2020, Covid-19 spread from China, first to countries such as Italy and Iran, then across the globe, causing high death tolls and the shutdown of socie-ties (CDC, 2021). As the pandemic moved to Latin America, the region’s leaders responded to the threat in wide-ranging ways. Governments deployed a variety of public health and economic measures to stem the human and financial costs of the pandemic. Some minimized the danger: from President Bolsonaro’s widely criti-cized labeling of the disease as a “little flu” in Brazil (Friedman, 2020), to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s (AMLO’s) refusal to wear masks in Mexico (Mo-rales, 2021). Others responded forcefully, such as Fernandez’s swift lockdown in Argentina (Reuters, 2020). While some drew heavily on progressive social move-ments in the policymaking process, others sidelined and marginalized them (Abers et al. 2021). The efficacy of these responses also varied widely. Some countries, such as the Dominican Republic, experienced Covid death rates that were lower than wealthy countries such as Canada and Denmark; others saw immense loss of life, as in Peru, where 600 people have died for every 100,000. Despite this vari-ation, the region on average has suffered terribly during the pandemic, with many countries in the top twenty for both cases and loss of life per capita (Blofield et al.2020; Fernandez and Machado, 2021; Ritchie et al. 2020).
This article is published as Love, G.J., & Smith, A.E. (2021). Introduction: Politics, Public Opinion and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Latin America. Latin American Journal of Public Opinion , 10 (2), 5–12. Retrieved from Post with permission.
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