RELEASE: U.S. Can’t Ignore Spread of the Coronavirus in Latin America and the Caribbean, CAP Analysis Says

Washington, D.C. — The United States cannot afford to ignore the progressing spread of the coronavirus among its neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress.

The region’s widespread poverty, weak health infrastructure, and fragile economies mean that its residents could suffer greatly if political leaders do not act swiftly to mitigate the crisis. A major concern is that the two most populous Latin American countries—Brazil and Mexico—have been the slowest to mobilize to contain the spread of the virus. In Venezuela, meanwhile, the pandemic has begun to make an already horrific humanitarian situation even worse.

“The uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus in the region is likely to hamper the United States’ efforts to contain the pathogen, impede domestic economic recovery, and intensify the political instability and human suffering that have contributed to high levels of forced migration in recent years,” said Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the issue brief. “To avoid these outcomes, the United States will need to work with its regional partners to forge a coordinated approach to the pandemic.”

The United States must work with its regional partners to develop a coordinated approach to the disease, including by:

  • Supporting and funding a regional health response, drawing on the region’s 2009 H1N1 pandemic experience
  • Minimizing harm and planning for contingencies in Venezuela and other fragile countries
  • Allowing border policies to be guided by science, not animus or politics
  • Condemning behavior that undermines mitigation efforts, adopting a cooperative tone, and avoiding condescension and unnecessary criticism

The United States must put public health over politics, follow the advice of health experts, and work with its partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to coordinate a response to the coronavirus that is rapid, effective, and sustainable.

Read the issue brief: “Getting Ahead of the Curve: Why the United States Needs to Plan for the Coronavirus in the Americas” by Trevor Sutton, Dan Restrepo, and Joel Martinez

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.

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