Skip to main content
Support

The World Health Organization recently classified Latin America as the new global “epicenter” of COVID-19. The number of cases in the region is nearing 1.5 million. Latin America exceeds the global average in cases per 100,000 (233.2 compared to 97.3) and deaths (11.5 compared to 5.5). Worryingly, unlike many regions, the spread is accelerating in Latin America, including in Chile, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela.

Image removed.

Image removed.

Image removed.

Latin America was hit by the virus later than much of Europe, Asia and the United States. That gave leaders in the region time to prepare and implement early and aggressive measures, such as strict stay-at-home orders in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Uruguay, for example, moved quickly to control the virus’s spread, even without a national lockdown, and it has seen only 847 cases of COVID-19.

Image removed.

Image removed.

Image removed.

In other parts of the region – such as Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua – national leaders were slow to respond to COVID-19. In Venezuela, underreporting and the suppression of information about the virus’s spread is likely masking a grave public health crisis. But even in countries that faced the pandemic head-on, the coronavirus has turned out to be a formidable adversary. That is because Latin America has numerous structural challenges that complicate its battle against this disease. The region’s infamous inequality has left one-in-two workers laboring in the informal sector, whose daily wages are imperiled by quarantines. There is also the geography of poverty. Major cities like Rio de Janeiro, Lima and Bogotá are surrounded by densely populated informal settlements, where complying with social-distancing measures is close to impossible.

Image removed.

Image removed.

 

Meanwhile, as much of the world slowly emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, the challenge for Latin America is getting worse. The Southern Hemisphere winter raises the threat of disease transmission, and the hurricane season threatens sanitation and health infrastructure.
 
For more insights on COVID-19’s impacts in Latin America, read our interview with the WHO’s representative in Argentina and our analysis of the challenge of managing the virus in Latin America’s sprawling informal settlements; and visit our coronavirus portal, including our interactive map tracking U.S. and Chinese “mask diplomacy” in Latin America.


Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

Argentina Project

The Argentina Project of the Latin American Program, aspires to be the premiere institution for policy-relevant research on the political and economic reforms underway in Argentina. The project will be a valuable resource for senior officials in the U.S. and Argentine governments, lawmakers, investors, diplomats, and journalists.  Read more

Brazil Institute

The Brazil Institute—the only country-specific policy institution focused on Brazil in Washington—works to foster understanding of Brazil’s complex reality and to support more consequential relations between Brazilian and U.S. institutions in all sectors.  Read more