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Weekly Report - 19 March 2020 (WR-20-11)

As region goes into lockdown, two populists play by own rules

As the vast majority of Latin American countries are adopting drastic measures in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), the leaders of the region’s two economic powerhouses, jointly accounting for more than half of its population, are bucking the trend in defiance of their own government’s health strategies. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and his Mexican peer Andrés Manuel López Obrador may be poles apart on the political spectrum but they are both populist leaders who thrive on close interaction with their support base. Social distancing is one of the chief guidelines to try and arrest the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic but far from leading by example the two heads of state are refusing to change their ways, both shaking hands with and embracing supporters at the weekend.

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