COVID Update: Peru

Peru – SUTEP (Peruvian Education Workers’ Union)

As of April 28, in Peru there are 31,190 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 4,088 of which are hospitalized and 854 people who have died1, including 9 teachers. Common crime has subsided, however domestic violence has increased with many women and girls who are forced to social distance with their aggressors.

On March 18, after the National Government announced quarantine measures, the Ministry of Education informed teachers engage in distance learning through the program “Aprendo en Casa/ Learning at Home”. This platform provides access to learning opportunities for pre-school, elementary and secondary levels through an online website, one public television channel and one public radio station.

Teachers have been working online with certain limitations as there are many communities that don’t have access to internet or the signal is very weak. SUTEP was successful in delaying the start of the school year until health authorities can guarantee that it is safe to do so. In addition, they have demanded that the government distribute 1 million tablets with internet access for teachers and students in rural regions, while recognizing that more is needed to close the digital gap at the national level.

We believe this is an opportunity to strengthen our engagement with parents and their much needed involvement in student learning. SUTEP is also creating online professional development opportunities focused on a gender-sensitive approach, use of technologies for information and communication, tutorials for filling the online monitoring forms and for labour rights during the quarantine.


COVID Update: Guatemala

GUATEMALA – Artesana Collective

Andrea with a box of teaching tools

As of May 1, 2020, Guatemala reports 599 confirmed cases of COVID-19: 517 are active; 66 have recovered; and 16 people have died.1 The first case was confirmed on March 13; a Guatemalan citizen returning from Spain. On March 16, the Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei, ordered all borders closed and suspended all international flights. This was followed by an imposed 4:00pm to 4:00am curfew across the country.

Several measures have been put in place by Guatemalan authorities  to prevent the spread of the virus; community markets are only allowed to open between 4:00 am and noon. Because many people cannot work, hundreds of arrests are occurring daily for breaking the curfew, as people feel the economic effects of the mandatory quarantine. Among these are Guatemalans who have been deported from the US during the pandemic. Around eighty percent of the deportees who have tested positive belong to rural indigenous communities where the government is taking more strict measures to guarantee the quarantine. It is important to highlight that in some regions, people have threatened and attacked deportees.

According to CoDev’s Guatemalan Partner the Artesana Collective, a non-profit association that supports women deprived of their liberty and their children, the preventive measures are also affecting this target population. One of the measures taken is the suspension of all visits to detention centres. This includes elderly women as well as mothers living in detention with their young children (newborns to four years of age).

With the support of CoDev’s Canadian Partner the Hawthorne Foundation and individual donors, Artesana is able to provide meals, hygiene and cleaning supplies for more than 100 boys and girls across the country. With the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Artesana’s General Coordinator, Andrea Barrios, is requesting support and donations to enable the organization to continue to providing emergency relief, as well as for their ongoing work. Please watch Andrea Barrios’s message here.

CoDevelopment Canada stands in solidarity with the Artesana Collective and, more importantly, with women deprived of their liberty and their children. It is important to highlight that they do not have a back-up movement behind them that strengthens actions in favour of these women, or those formerly deprived of liberty. The women’s and feminist movements usually do not include those formerly deprived of liberty in their demands, both at the national and the international levels. On the contrary there is a great deal of prejudice against this population and those who support them. You can donate here to support the Artesana Collective.


Updates on Covid-19 from CoDev’s Partners in Latin America

Get the latest from our Latin American partners in our special reports page.

COVID Update: Cuba

Cuban Internationalism stands out during pandemic

CoDev often accompanies delegations to meet education and public administration partners in Cuba. During these visits two things that inevitably stand out as sources of pride for our hosts are the country’s comprehensive public health system and Cuban internationalism.

Cuban internationalism dates back to the early 1960s, but more recently it has increasingly taken the form of assisting other countries in achieving the basic human rights of education and healthcare. Cuban teachers assist throughout Latin America to guide literacy campaigns, while Cuban medical personnel work in many countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in everything from restoring sight, to developing rural health networks and even constructing entire national public health systems (while now a little dated, the 2006 film Salud! provides an excellent overview of this work).

At the same time, tens of thousands of healthcare professionals from around the world have been trained at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine, with a special emphasis on providing care to rural and marginalized populations.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, these sources of Cuban pride have come together in new ways. Shortly after the outbreak began in the Chinese province of Hubei, Cubans sent anti-viral drugs to help alleviate the impact of the virus. When no one else would accept the COVID-stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar, adrift for days seeking safe harbour, the Cubans took it in and treated the passengers before returning them to their home countries.

CoDev’s partners at the Cuban teachers’ and public administration workers’ unions report that, as in Canada, they are attempting to social distance and are working from home as much as possible. With 1537 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 64 dead on the island of 11.5 million (as of May 1, John Hopkins University), Cuba has so far avoided the mass infections affecting the US, Europe and some parts of Canada. But the number of cases continue to rise, putting new strains on the country’s economic and healthcare resources.

Despite the growing need for medical staff at home, Cuba has recently sent medical teams to help numerous other countries combat the virus. This includes a large team to COVID-ravished Italy, whose own dedicated doctors have been stretched well beyond their limits caring for tens of thousands affected by the illness.

CoDev shares below a number of articles regarding Cuba’s remarkable medical internationalism in the face of the pandemic.  In response to the Trump administration warning countries against accepting Cuban medical aid, a petition is circulating that urges the Canadian government to publicly recognize the country’s contribution to the international effort to control the virus. CoDev supporters wishing to add their name to this petition can do so here.

Some useful articles on Cuba’s contribution to the international effort to control the CoVid 19 pandemic:

The world rediscovers Cuban medical internationalism – Le Monde Diplomatique
What coronavirus revealed about national mindsets across the world and how Cuba came out on top – The Independent

“Humanitarian Solidarity”: Even Under U.S. Sanctions, Cuba Sends Doctor Brigade to
Cuba’s Coronavirus Response Is Putting Other Countries to Shame – Jacobin Magazine
Cuba Under Media Attack for Sending Doctors, Not Bombs, to Help Covid-19 Victims – FAIR

A team of Cuban doctors prepare to leave for Italy to assist in the fight against Covid 19
(photo: Jacobin Magazine)

COVID Update: El Salvador

EL SALVADOR – ANDES 21 De Junio (National Association of Salvadoran Teachers 21 of June)

With borders closed between Central American countries, teachers are reaching out virtually to offer moral support and exchange strategies for coping with the health crisis. CoDev checked in during one of the meetings and is sharing a partner update from the National Association of Salvadoran Educators @andes21dejunio.

In El Salvador as of April 17, 426 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 41 people have died.1

El Salvador is experiencing a situation similar to that across the region, in t that this pandemic has unmasked the current crisis of capitalism. Many governments wish to cover up all the false promises and inadequacies in providing basic public services to their citizens. We cannot move freely. At first the preventative measures that began on March 14 with a state of exception and national emergency were observed, but then the government announced the provision of economic support of up to $300.00USD without any established online mechanism, forcing people to breach quarantine measures and make long lines outside the 16 CENADE [National Centres for Attention and Administration of Subsidies] offices to verify their eligibility. Although the government has stopped electricity bills for the next three months, these will have to be paid in the next two years with interest, tightening the grip of debt on families.

Without a doubt, women are the front line of defense. In healthcare and at home, we are in charge of preparing food, maintaining hygiene and caregiving. This means that most of the work dealing with the current health crisis affects women and girls in particular. On top of that, there has been an increase in domestic violence. Many women are under quarantine with their aggressors and they can’t leave their homes to file complaints. There is much confusion in the healthcare system, already weakened by privatization. 4,325 people are in 100 quarantine centres across the country that are slowly becoming focal points of infection due to lack of personal protective equipment or preparedness plans. Although there are recognized specialists in infectious diseases in the country, the government has yet to call upon their expertise.

ANDES 21 de Junio and the Women’s Secretariat, have organized their members to provide assistance in case of emergencies 24/7 as well as the delivery of medicines for members with chronic illnesses. Active members, as well as contract teachers are covered by the ISBM [Salvadoran Institute for Educator’s Wellbeing], to ensure that the national hospital network provides services to all education workers in case of emergency. The ISBM also committed to providing teachers with one million masks and hand sanitizer.

Teachers are working with unstable salaries. We need to analyze the health and social crisis created by capitalism, as it is the working class that is the most impacted. We need to provide our students with the tools needed to address these local and global issues.

ANDES 21 de Junio’s Women’s Secretariat’s work to promote and develop gender-equity based education in Salvadoran classrooms is supported by @BCTeachersFederation, @Abteachers and @surreyteachers.