Sunday, June 16, 2024

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

The plunder of Bolivian gold

Chinese companies are behind rapid expansion of gold mining in the Mayaya region of Bolivia, and are invading the Madidi National Park. Bolivian journalist and LAB correspondent Sergio Mendoza travelled by canoe down the Beni and Quendeque rivers, witnessing how the illegal mining activity is hidden by Bolivian mining cooperatives and supported or permitted by the government.

Brazil: pictures of a polarized diaspora

Interviews with Brazilians resident in the UK, as they queue to vote in their country's second round presidential election on 30 October. Sharp polarization is in evidence here, as at home

Mexico: lessons from coronavirus in Chiapas

For the Indigenous communities in pre-pandemic Chiapas, Mexico, weak health systems and even weaker trust in authorities had dangerous consequences.

Voz V | The Covid-19 Pandemic: Survival

The arrival of Covid-19 devastated Latin America. Across the region, there are calls to build a more just economy and society than the one that was left behind.

A delicate moment for Cuban history

Alberto Gil makes sense of a new layered crisis in Cuba shaped by the pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Caribbean country's internationally lauded healthcare system, a new generation in power and a new culture of dissent.

Ecuador’s crisis is over … for now

A wave of protest paralysed Ecuador, with roads blockaded and food running short in some areas. The protests were led by indigenous organizations, but backed by students and trade unions. After various authoritarian actions and threats, Lasso has been forced to conciliate and the protests have subsided for now.


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