Recent developments impacting Latin America, from Covid-19, elections, and gender rights, will all come under the spotlight this week at a major conference hosted at the University of Bath.

The 2022 Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS) conference ‘Latin America in times of political mistrust and global pandemic’ will bring together over 250 delegates from around the world to explore key political and societal issues affecting the region.

Against the ever-present backdrop of Covid-19 – something which has affected the region acutely, with high case rates exacerbating existing inequalities – talks will consider the political and economic ramifications of the pandemic from Cuba to Brazil.

Commentators have argued that Brazil’s policy response to Covid, driven by its President Jair Bolsonaro, has been one of the worst in the world with its health systems quickly overburdened and thousands of people dying, unable to access ICU beds or oxygen supplies. In Cuba, the pandemic was a causal factor in the country’s recent uprising.

The keynote address, presented by Professor Leonard Avritzer from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) will focus on anti-politics and the crisis of democracy in Brazil under Bolsonaro. The far-right leader was elected as an outsider in 2018 and will be up for re-election as the incumbent this autumn.

But elsewhere, major political and social shifts have taken place over the past two years with protests in Colombia, elections in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru; as well as landmark moments for women’s rights as Argentina legalised abortion and Chile secured gender parity in its historic constituent assembly.

Organiser and Latin American specialist from Bath’s Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, Dr Juan Pablo Ferrero, explained: “This is the first Society of Latin American Studies Conference to resume in-person after more than two years, and it’s a timely opportunity to take stock of the significant changes to have taken place across the region over this time.

“From the immediate and very real effects of Covid on healthcare systems and economies, and countries’ different policy responses, to protests and elections, as well as landmark changes for gender rights in Argentina and Chile, this period has been marked by major events which will have long-term impacts for the trajectory of the region.

“We are delighted to welcome delegates to Bath to debate, discuss and share latest research and analysis at this important event.”