By Stephen Carrier, Missionary to Chile
Latin America has been an interesting case study in how different nations are handling COVID-19. Some countries, like Peru, have almost locked down entirely, while Brazil’s president views the collapse of the economy as a bigger danger in the long run and has opted to keep his country open for business as much as possible. Despite their differences of opinion on how to overcome the virus, what all of Latin America seems to have in common is a looming economic disaster.
Latin America is headed for an economic cliff, with no sign of slowing down. The COVID-19 response has shut down much economic activity in these countries, from tourism to taxi driving. Very few Latin American countries have unemployment insurance, so unexpected situations like a pandemic can be especially devastating.
No matter what they may try, it’s hard for a nation to overcome huge amounts of debt and rising poverty, and many of them fall into that category. In fact, the UN expects nearly 30 million more people in Latin America to fall below the poverty line in 2020.
The virus also comes on the heels of a series of protests and riots that were already underway in several countries like Colombia, Haiti, Bolivia, and Chile. These can only be expected to increase as austerity measures are taken to get the economy back under control in the future.
What all of this shows is that monetary systems around the world are collapsing, and Latin America is no different. People in Peru have already begun rebelling and going out because they are starving. Hospitals are overwhelmed and people are dying in the hallways waiting for treatment. When people become more and more desperate to survive, they will begin looking for help in any way possible. There are people who are desperate for somebody to help them and for a way out of their misery.
What is the saddest part of all, however, is that those who don’t know Christ are living and dying in a figurative hell, only to wake up in the literal one. We as Christians know that only Jesus can offer them true peace and security, regardless of what may be going on in the world. Until He returns, we have a duty to reach Latin America with the gospel.