According to data from a new report, Venezuela and Uruguay have the most equal wealth distributions in Latin America, while Colombia and Guatemala are the most unequal nations.
The report was published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which is a United Nations regional commission based in Santiago, Chile.
As of 2015 Venezuela and Uruguay each have Gini coefficients (used to measure inequality in which 0 represents the absence of inequality and 1 a maximum) of 0.40 or less, compared to the continent's average of 0.469.
Conversely, the five nations with the highest levels of inequality in Latin America are Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Panama and Mexico, each with a Gini coefficient greater than 0.50.
Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez remarked on the results over Twitter on May 31, saying that the “five countries with the most inequality form part of the interventionist coalition in the OAS against Venezuela, for being the least unequal country,” referring to the role that Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Panama and Mexico have played in calling for diplomatic action against Venezuela in the Organisation of American States.
According to the report, 17 Latin American countries averaged a Gini coefficient of 0.469, which is considered to be high. The report notes that although the index has fallen each year, the pace of decline is decreasing. Between 2008 and 2012, the average pace of decline was 1.2%, which halved to 0.6% between 2012 and 2015.
The trend is likely to continue, as the past two years have seen right-wing, austerity driven governments come to power in several formerly progressive Latin American countries, such as presidents Michel Temer in Brazil, and Mauricio Macri in Argentina.
Austerity measures have significantly exacerbated existing inequalities noted by the study, by making cuts to public healthcare, pensions, social security and public education.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]