COVID-19: Urge the U.S. to Help its Neighbors!

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Authors: Lisa Haugaard, Antonio Saadipour Sellés

It’s hard to focus on the impact of the pandemic in other parts of the world, when we are hit so hard here at home. But we know you care about people at risk across the globe. And that you know we need to face this pandemic together—because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s the right public health approach. The pandemic will boomerang back to us if it runs rampant in other countries, especially in our hemisphere.

The United States should lend a helping hand to our neighbors, not make this desperate situation worse. That includes:

  • Providing generous public health and humanitarian assistance to countries struggling with the pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Lifting sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba that impede the delivery of humanitarian and medical aid or otherwise worsen the dire humanitarian situation.
  • Advocating for broad debt cancellation and relief for countries affected by the pandemic.
  • Speaking out against governments using the pandemic to take repressive or authoritarian actions.
  • Halting all deportations to Latin America and the Caribbean during the pandemic.

Yet far from making things better, the United States is exporting the virus to nations with fragile health systems, like Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and to nations that are failing to deal honestly with the pandemic like Brazil.

Over the next few weeks, we will send you specific actions you can take to help our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors during the pandemic, so expect to see more ways to get involved very soon. See the first below!

Today, we start with:

Ask your senators to provide aid for health services, food security, and access to clean water in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States should start by paying its fair share to the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO), which over the decades has helped eradicate polio, smallpox, and measles in the hemisphere. Yet the U.S. is now delinquent on its contributions and has not yet contributed to PAHO’s work to address the pandemic. 

The United States should also help address the “hunger pandemic” that is growing in Latin America, as people who survive day-to-day on their small earnings just can’t make it—and expand access to clean water. The goal is to get the Senate to allocate $12 billion in emergency aid for Latin America and the Caribbean. Why? Because we are facing a global pandemic, and that means we need a global response in order to eradicate the virus here at home and around the world.

See a sample Senate letter here

Here’s what you do:

  • Download our sample letter
  • Copy the text into two new documents
  • Address one to each of your senators
  • Fill in your address information at the bottom

It’s that easy. Five minutes of your time is all it takes to advocate for our neighbors in the region. And as an added step, share the letter with your friends, family, and colleagues. If we make enough noise, they’ll have to listen to us.

Need some more background resources? Check out our COVID-19 pageAnd don’t forget to stay tuned for the next couple of actions!