Friday, July 1, 2022

Covid-19: Loss, Survival, Recovery, Transformation

Latin American Communities vs The Pandemic

The Challenge

Covid-19 brought simultaneous health, economic, and humanitarian crises to Latin America. Government responses and their effects varied hugely from country to country. Bolsonaro in Brazil, Ortega in Nicaragua, AMLO in Mexico sought at times to deny or minimise the pandemic. Peru locked down early, yet had one of the highest death rates. Chile prioritised vaccination but still suffered a wave of new infections. Everyone was affected, but especially those in poor and marginal communities, indigenous people and women and children –the very people whose stories LAB exists to tell. This projects seeks answers to the following:

What was lost? Lives, livelihoods, culture, memory, education, communities? How are people surviving? What will communities do to recover from the effects of the pandemic? And how will people seek to transform their lives, to build a new, different, more resilient and sustainable future? 

Latin America has some of the highest rates of Covid-19 cases and Covid-related deaths in the world. More than that, compounding factors including weak healthcare systems, social and economic inequalities, and ongoing political instability meant the Covid-19 pandemic in the region escalated into simultaneous health, economic and humanitarian crises.
This project seeks to report on how the pandemic has impacted on the region’s most vulnerable, focusing on lived experiences and, as much as possible, providing space for Latin American voices to tell their own stories. From indigenous communities to women tackling gender-based violence, from the urban poor to rural educators, LAB explores how Latin Americans have lived and survived through the Covid-19 pandemic, often neglected and sometimes opposed by their own governments. We will tell the stories of how they survived, how they are recovering and the energy and imagination they are bringing to planning and building new and different futures.

What will the project do?

  • A chapter. LAB’s book Voices of Latin America – Social movements and the New Activism was published in 2019. But we are constantly adding new material, which will appear on the Voices website and eventually be incorporated in a 2nd edition of the book. A chapter on the Covid pandemic is already in preparation. When complete it will be made available in digital format to LAB’s patrons (paid subscribers via Patreon).
  • A website. This project website provides a space for additional reading, multimedia material, and comment. It already provides access to over 130 related articles published by LAB since the pandemic began, and that number is constantly growing.
  • A network to share ideas. With our partners across the region, and the many social movements whose stories we tell, LAB will shine a light on the original and innovative ideas that communities have adopted, both to enable them to survive Covid-19 and to imagine and build their own components of a new society and economy that can survive the pandemic and create a better, more resilient and more just future.
  • A powerful channel for ‘Voices of Recovery’. LAB is a partner with School of International Development at the University of East Anglia, in a project called ‘Voices of Recovery’. We will work with them to gather, translate and interpret those ‘voices’.

Hope & Renewal

To state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

Albert Camus, The Plague

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

Arundhati Roy

How you can get involved

This is just the beginning of our project which we expect to work on for several years. LAB is seeking partners – campaigners, writers, translators and researchers in Latin America, the UK and elsewhere – to join our project. To find out how you can help please contact us at: Universities with related research projects can join with us in an REI (Research Engagement and Impact) partnership.

News about the Covid pandemic

Mining: the struggle for what’s essential

Former MiningWatch Canada researcher Jen Moore reports on Global mining companies which have used the pandemic to push unwanted projects on vulnerable communities, who are fighting back — and sometimes winning.

Lessons from the Catastrophe of Covid

Covid-19 has caused untold damage in Latin America. The region accounts for almost a third of Covid-19 deaths despite making up less than 10...

Power of collective responses to Covid in Rio

Collective emergency responses to the pandemic from women in the Maré favelas of Rio further awakened other women survivors of gendered violence, research shows.

The homeless street – São Paulo during Covid-19

Homelessness has increased dramatically during the Covid pandemic in São Paulo. A film and exhibition explore the way homeless people convert the street into a place of semi-permanent dwelling.

Venezuela: gold fuels malaria epidemic

Venezuela, once a 'good example' for malaria control is now facing an epidemic of infections, fuelled by mining, deforestation, poverty and violence, especially in the Arco Minero around Sifontes

Brazil: I skip meals to feed my children

Single mothers who raise their families alone were hit face on by the loss of jobs and income; women are always the last to eat.


If you'd like donate towards this project, please click here. Thank you very much to everyone who has supported the project thus far.