Latin America 2021: Elections, economic recovery, foreign policy and the COVID effect

What can be learned from the 2021 elections and the likely medium and long-term social, economic and political effects of the pandemic?

Research event
30 November 2021 — 1:00PM TO 5:00PM
Chatham House and Online

Chatham House held a hybrid, half-day event on the political, economic, and foreign policy trends in Latin America. Originally intended to be Chatham House’s annual Latin America conference to be held in Mexico November 29-30 in partnership with the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI), the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions forced a postponement of the Mexico City conference until May 23-24 2022.

This half-day event, held in London and virtually, is being organized in its place for 2021. In its abbreviated form, the event brings together leading policymakers, economists, political analysts, and private sector leaders to survey this year’s elections and political conditions, as well as their implications for the region’s political, economic, social and foreign policy future. 

We would like to thank CAF – Development Bank of Latin America for its generous support of this conference.



Welcoming remarks

Chris Sabatini, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House 


Opening Roundtable - Economic recovery and return to growth

This session will explore how the diverse economies of Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to recover from the economic contraction of 2020 and the long-term effects of the interruptions in education and labour markets and their impact on poverty and inequality. The discussion will also examine the differential effects of the economic downtown on distinct sectors – women, indigenous, the informal sector, youth and Afro-descendent communities. This session will explore;

  • How are individually countries recovering from the economic contraction of 2020?
  • What are predicted growth rates for individual countries for 2021 and 2022? 
  • What is fueling recovery and what is holding it back?
  • To what extent have the disruptions in education and labour markets become a drag on future economic growth and productivity?


  • Marcela Meléndez, Chief Economist, Latin America & the Caribbean, UNDP
  • Pablo Sanguinetti, Vice-President, CAF
  • Chair: Christopher Sabatini, Senior Research Fellow for Latin America, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House 

Elections, political trajectories and economics: Are there any patterns?

Following a year of elections across the region - in Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Nicaragua - and with an eye to forthcoming elections – in Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica in 2022 - can we detect trends in citizen demands, partisan realignment and policy directions within those countries and across the region? Is populism on the rise or has the wave crested? How will these electoral trends affect economic policymaking, social development, economic growth and investment?


  • Mauricio Cárdenas, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Columbia University
  • Vanessa Rubio-Marquez, Professor in Practice, London School of Economics
  • Marina Silva, Leader, Rede Sustentabilidade Party, Brazil
  • Andrés Velasco, Dean, School of Public Policy, London School of Economics,Chair: 
  • Michael Reid, Bello Columnist, The Economist

Networking break


Closing discussion: The Americas' shrinking global role? Domestic politics and the future of foreign policy

How are domestic politics and changing international dynamics recasting Latin America’s foreign policies and global role? What is the future of the region’s cooperation as a whole and/or within existing blocks? What is the role of intraregional platforms, such as the Pacific Alliance?


  • Celso Amorim, Minister of Foreign Relations, Brazil (1993-1994 & 2003-2010)
  • Elena Lazarou, Associate Fellow, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
  • Isabel Saint Malo, Vice-President, Panama (2014-2019)
  • José Antonio Meade, Independent Non-Executive Director, HSBC
  • Chair: Ambassador Andrés Rozental, Senior Adviser, Chatham House; Founding President, COMEXI

Event ends


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