According to data from a new report, as of 2015 Venezuela and Uruguay have the most equal wealth distribution in Latin America, while Colombia and Guatemala are the most unequal Latin American nations.
The report was published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which is a United Nations regional commission headquartered in Santiago, Chile.
The report's data indicates that on the Gini coefficient, Venezuela and Uruguay have the most equal wealth distributions in Latin America, each having coefficients 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.
The foreign minister of Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez, remarked on the results over twitter on Wednesday, 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 Organization of American States.
“Between 2008 and 2015, income distribution inequality among people in Latin America decreased thanks to countries’ prioritization of social development objectives, but the pace of decline slowed between 2012 and 2015 and current levels remain very high for the goal of achieving sustainable development,” CEPAL said in a press release Tuesday.
According to the report, in a Gini coefficient in which 0 represents the absence of inequality and 1 a maximum, 17 Latin American countries averaged at 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 of 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.