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Polarization and misinformation. Why do Latin Americans no longer trust their governments?


The global survey presented by the consulting firm Edelman in a forum with EL PAÍS reflects the credibility crisis that politicians are going through in Latin America and why citizens choose to trust companies and NGOs

Only 32% of the inhabitants of the largest countries in Latin America would agree to help someone who does not think like them and 80% would prefer not to have them as neighbors.

This deep polarization that countries like Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil are going through has led to a historic crisis of confidence in the governments of the region, according to a global survey presented this Tuesday by the consulting firm Edelman in a joint forum with EL PAÍS.

The study on 28 countries shows worrying figures: the Administrations are the institutions that generate the least trust in citizens, with an average of 37%, followed by the media and social networks, which stand at 45%.

"There is no hope without trust, and what we see in Latin America is that there is a serious crisis of confidence accompanied by a deterioration in the public perception of the Government and its political leaders", have been the words of the director of EL PAÍS America, Jan Martínez Ahrens, when beginning the presentation of the report.

And he has opened the debate: "How did we get here?"

Mariana Sainz, CEO of Edelman Latin America, has explained four factors that fuel polarization: we live in a world where economic optimism has collapsed, an institutional imbalance that has led to the lowest levels of mistrust in governments since Edelman began to measure it 23 years ago, an ever-widening gap between those who have more and less income, and where the fight against misinformation is a key factor to face the future.

“Disinformation breeds mistrust, and mistrust breeds polarization.

It is a vicious circle from which it is difficult for us to get out ”, Sainz has analyzed.

“Since before the pandemic, there were already many doubts about the information and we began to generate echo chambers where people only listen to others who think as one.

This deepened with the pandemic and there are few institutions that are knowing how to recover ”.

The Edelman survey reveals that companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are the most valued institutions, with 64% and 60% trust respectively.

In Sainz's analysis of the survey, this confidence comes from the fact that they are seen as more competent and ethical, according to the opinions of thousands of respondents in these countries.

“Governments and the media divide, while companies and NGOs help to find common ground.

All this encourages the social fabric to weaken more and more.

Ideologies are becoming identity and we are looking for fewer and fewer spaces to sit with others ”, he has exposed.

Social networks and misinformation

The key factor that has addressed the debate is whether this polarization and misinformation is fueled by the echo chambers created by social networks.

“We live in a moment where there is a lot of information available.

The number of sources helps the information to become too fragmented and people look for the one that validates their ideas.

This contributes to more polarization and a deterioration in trust”, said Javier Ortiz Bahamón, director of the Tropical Forest Alliance for Latin America, from Colombia.

"What the networks end up doing is exacerbating what was already there in some way," contributed Gabriela Warkentin, host and director of the newscast

Así las cosas

from Mexico City.

"Distrust already occurs at street level, and that is what is worrying."

"Trust has become horizontal rather than vertical: we begin to believe more in our colleagues, our peers, our family, the people with whom one sits down to live," Sainz explained.

"This gives companies the idea that we have a very important role in what is to come."

The great debates of our era, such as the climate crisis, the energy transition, equity and inclusion are the places where organizations must fight to seek the trust of citizens.

According to Sainz, companies can lead in this context, but to rebuild the social fabric torn by disenchantment it will be necessary for all institutions to find the way to act.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-04-25

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