Updated: Jun 4, 2021
João Chantre, SHOM, Luxembour,15 May 2021 (published originally in Portuguese)
A year after I published my first articles on the to
pic of Covid-19 and economic recovery in the renowned newspaper «Expresso das Ilhas», the topic continues to make news around the world and governments are still desperately looking for solutions.
On a scientific level, vaccines have brought some hope to the world, but their production and distribution pose challenges and concerns all over the place. On the health front, health professionals continue to be overwhelmed and exhausted in the biggest sanitary battle of the 21st century. No state was prepared for an attack of this magnitude. On a social level, this is what is known – uncertainties continue, people's fatigue is evident, millions of children still do not understand why their fundamental rights to go to school and to play with their friends were taken away. They are exhausted and eager to wait for the consequences to come. On the economic front, the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc and devastating the planet as time passes and the economic figures become known all over the place. The balance has been disastrous! The economic earthquake is violent, it is global, and it showed the difficulties to protect all fronts. It will take a long time for economies to recover to their normal level, especially in the most vulnerable social strata. But it is necessary to be aware: the world is changing biologically, socially and economically.
We are islands & we are part of this plot
The coronavirus landed on the islands (Cape Verde) in March 2020 and brought with it the biggest health, economic and social crisis experienced in our post-independence country.
A global crisis that requires local muscled and creative measures, because everything at this moment depends on the masks, social distance, behaviour and discipline of our people – the best vaccine before the arrival of any donated/purchased vaccine and in sufficient doses. Our future depends on our health security, especially on one of the vaccines that does not depend on us and at this moment our hope and our attitude towards the coronavirus is a test of our resilience as a Nation.
Suddenly the Atlantic, which is our greatest wealth, confined and isolated us from the world. How long will it last is the great unknown! Everything evaporated. We saw our powerful economic engine, Tourism (25% of GDP),blocked completely without even being able to react. A strategic sector, a bet of decades, in exponential growth, suddenly collapsed when it was at cruising speed and near of approaching the one million tourists goal. All sectors linked to this industry, air and maritime transport, cultural life, hotels, restaurants felt this stop. It dragged many people into unemployment, especially young people, putting at risk the survival of many families
The planet was attacked
There is no doubt that the planet was attacked. Almost a year after Covid-19's attack on the world, we are still immersed in a sea of uncertainty and with some certainties in sight, namely the discovery of vaccines all over the wolrd, except within the African continent where it seems the science and the development of vaccines have been relegated to the background. An Africa with enormous potential, whose future depends only, and only, on the good will and commitment of Africans. However, it is legitimate and to be praised optimism was reborn with the discoveries of the vaccines which is a promising way to put an end to this global attack that devastates our planet. An attack caused by a virus that has violently attacked the planet, causing more than 150 million infected and 3.3 million deaths so far, challenging all health systems on the planet, destroying families, businesses, jobs, confining the world to home and creating an unprecedented global economic tsunami.
Where the military arsenal went
For decades, several countries have spent trillions of USD on an expensive, luxurious and extremely powerful war arsenal, placed on stand-by to destroy in seconds the most distant and remote targets on our planet. Financed with the money of the "tax payers" (taxpayers' money) while at the same time in many places people were struggling for food, were in need of medical care and of a robust educational system. Meanwhile, the only certainty we have right now is that a virus has stopped aircraft around the world causing an estimated USD 160 billion loss in the industry, partially closed the world's airports and has dethroned less attentive politicians. On the other hand, it has cleared many of the polluting moulds from the sky, oxygenated the planet, forests are breathing better, and therefore our planet is cleaner and greener every day. The United States has been one of the countries that has suffered the greatest casualties from the attacks of Covid-19 (after India and Brazil), which called into question Trump's strategy and nearly divided the country. So, after the first USD 1.9 trillion financial tornado proposed by Biden and approved by the Senate, America is now awaiting two more financial tornadoes: USD 2.3 trillion for new infrastructure and USD 1.8 trillion in the social area as a weapon of salvation for the country.
Still lacking technical consensus, some economists believe that the money tornado will be the only way to save the United States and create full employment, while others believe that if these amounts are dumped on the world's biggest economic power, America could be hurt from new with one of the most dangerous pathologies to fight in an economy: inflation.
In short, we are all on minefield. Only 5 years from now will we know who the winners were and who the losers were. As for the winners, the waiting list is very long as Africa has just assumed itself as the main loser in this war that will make history. It is known that vaccines have brought new hope and have become one of the best businesses of the 21st century. The technological innovation that accompanies vaccines needs to be regulated, and it is awaited by a renewed, humanized, common sense, green-minded and sustainable mentality in order to save the planet that is in danger. This is now our biggest challenge. Health and education gained legitimacy and speed as strategic sectors. Whoever strikes a balance between a desired sustainability and minimizing the gap between the most privileged and the most vulnerable will be crowned in the future. On the islands (Cape Verde) we must prepare for the worst and work for our best with a high probability of hope and faith as always. History repeats itself! It's time...
Text originally published in Portuguese the print edition of Expresso das Ilhas nº 1015 of May 12, 2021.