By Dulce Gamboa
Latin America is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is causing the region’s worst health, economic, social, and humanitarian crisis in a century.
We are witnessing a health crisis on top of a food and nutrition crisis in places like the dry corridor in Central America and the border between Colombia and Venezuela.
Before the pandemic hit, more than 190 million in Americans, 30 percent of the population, were living in poverty. COVID-19 is expected to drive up hunger, especially in countries already suffering from food crises—without enough food and acute levels of malnutrition. The shocking poverty impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will hit children hard, as they are highly vulnerable to even short periods of hunger and malnutrition—potentially affecting them negatively for their whole life.
As many as 14 million people in the region could face severe food shortages by the end of the year due to COVID-19. As Congress continues to work on a new COVID-19 emergency supplemental package, we urge lawmakers to include at least an additional $20 billion for foreign assistance funding to help meet the needs of our global family during these challenging times.
COVID-19 will rewrite the future of Latin America—especially for Indigenous and African Latino populations. According to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB) in Brazil, COVID’s mortality rate is twice as high for Indigenous populations than others. In Peru, Indigenous communities are facing a death rate of 16 percent, which is eight times higher than the national average.
Even before the pandemic, these populations were already experiencing higher rates of hunger as a result of centuries of discrimination and exclusion from economic prosperity.
As a nation we must join in solidarity with our neighbors in the Americas to protect the most vulnerable. With God’s help, we can come out on the other side of the pandemic stronger and with a more just and equitable world for all. Please email Congress today and ask them to meet the needs of our global family amid this pandemic.
Dulce Gamboa is senior Catholic Latino associate at Bread for the World.