Mikhael G. Iglesias L. – Candidato de Maestría, NYU CLACS
Más de 5 millones de venezolanos han dejado su país a medida que la crisis humanitaria se ha ido agravando, buscando mejores condiciones de vida en países vecinos. Las oleadas de emigrantes han estado presionando a los gobiernos de la región para que examinen qué políticas adoptar para atender la crisis que desborda la fronteras de Venezuela. Recientemente, bajo el contexto de la pandemia por COVID-19, el escenario migratorio se vuelve más complicado. Los venezolanos en otros países se encuentran en medio de la pandemia, afectados por el desempleo y la falta de acceso al sistema de salud pública por un lado. Por otro, sopesando las dificultades de retornar a un país que sigue en deterioro y que los discrimina señalándolos como “armas biológicas”.
La situación de los venezolanos que han salido de su país es complicada. El proyecto Migrantes y Refugiados Venezolanos del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello reporta que muchos han salido caminando hacia Colombia, siendo aproximadamente 1,800,000 venezolanos en el país vecino (Ver gráfica para más detalles). En el caso de Colombia, nada mas el 43% se encuentra en una situación legal regular. Tan sólo unos 5 mil venezolanos han solicitado la condición de refugiado, de los cuales nada más se les ha otorgado a 140. Mas allá de la legalidad, el 90% se encuentra trabajando en el sector informal, lo que señala la condición crítica y vulnerable en la que se encuentran en medio de la fragilidad económica ante la pandemia.
By Amparo Hoffman-Pinilla & Sonia Ospina, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
During the 2020 Spring semester three Colombian academics delivered presentations about their research through a Faculty Working Group Series that is part of the Colombia: Past, Present, and Futures initiative. This is a collaboration between scholars from NYU and Universidad del Rosario (URosario) in Colombia, which brings together NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, in partnership with URosario’s Academic Vice-Provost Office, and the Peace, Conflict and Peace Research Center (Centro de Estudios en Conflictos y Paz).
The goal of this collaboration is to raise awareness, deepen understanding and foster discussion among professors, students and community members interested in current challenges and opportunities affecting the peace process, democratic governance and sustainable development in Colombia. The Initiative capitalized on the presence of a critical mass of professors from URosario in NYC during the Spring semester: Juan Vargas, Professor of Economics and Visiting Professor at NYU’s Political Science Department during the 2019-2020 academic year; Angela Santamaría, Professor of URosario’s Conflict and Peace Research Center (Centro de Estudios en Conflictos y Paz) and Visiting Scholar at NYU/Wagner during the Spring of 2020; and Bastien Bosa, Professor of Anthropology and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University during the Spring of 2020.
Mikhael G. Iglesias L. – Candidato de Maestría, NYU CLACS
A medida que los casos y muertes diarias aumentan en el mundo, donde Latinoamérica y el Caribe representa un 45% de las muertes, sectores históricamente abandonados por políticas públicas en la región como las comunidades indígenas y afro-descendientes quienes se ven más vulnerables frente a la pandemia. El acceso limitado para estas comunidades a servicios básicos como agua, luz o servicios sanitarios, en el contexto de COVID-19 expone la precariedad y riesgo que enfrentan. Prácticas culturales, o incluso idiomas en algunos casos, están en riesgo de desaparecer. Igualmente significativo es el deterioro de la calidad de vida debido al no poder mantener sus actividades económicas ni poder acceder a un sistema de salud pública adecuado.
Carla García, Coordinadora de Relaciones Internacionales de OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña) y miembro de la comunidad garífuna de Honduras, describe cómo se preparan ante el COVID-19. “Nosotros estamos en constante comunicación con nuestros ancestros”, comentó Carla al explicar sobre un mensaje transmitido que resaltaba la importancia de tener el sistema inmune activo para reducir o prevenir complicaciones debido a COVID-19. Ella junto a sus hijos contrajeron el virus y con los tés adecuados que mencionaron los ancestros, pudieron lidiar con los síntomas y padecimientos que el virus presentó en sus casos.
Conversemos COVID-19 es una iniciativa producida por el Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos y Caribeños de NYU con el propósito de ofrecer información valiosa sobre la pandemia en las varias lenguas indígenas y diaspóricas más habladas en Nueva York.
La información es provista en video-cápsulas de 90 segundos narradas en 8 lenguas habladas por comunidades migrantes de México, Ecuador, Haití, Honduras, Bolivia, Perú, que incluyen Quechua, Creól Haitiano, Náhuatl, Mixteco, Garífuna, y Kichwa. Puede accesar las video-cápsulas http://idlc.nyc/conversemos-covid-19/.
Este primer episodio, ofrece consejos de como mantener la buena salud mental durante estos tiempos difíciles, y está basado en las recomendaciones de la CDC y la Organización Panamericana de la Salud. En los próximos episodios se tratarán temas como el importancia de la utilización de máscaras o barbijos, la higiene y seguridad en el trabajo, entre otros.
The NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has launched “Conversemos COVID-19” (“Let’s Talk COVID-19”), an initiative aimed at offering information about the pandemic in various indigenous and diasporic languages widely spoken in New York.
The information is delivered in 90-second video capsules translated into eight languages, including Quechua, Haitian Kreyol, Nahuatl, Mixtec, Garifuna, and Kichwa, spoken by immigrant communities from Mexico, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, and others. The capsules may be viewed online at http://idlc.nyc/conversemos-covid-19/.
The first episode is based on recommendations promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Panamerican Health Organization on maintaining good mental health during the pandemic. Future episodes will focus on mask-wearing and returning to work safely, among other topics.
Mikhael G. Iglesias L. – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS
In the sixth month of the current health crisis caused by COVID-19, in which much of the world was caught off guard, Latin America and the Caribbean have become a focal point for infections. Historic inequality in access to healthcare services, high poverty rates and informal economies, marginalization of indigenous and afro-descendant communities, the new rise of populism, and lagging infrastructures are some of the biggest challenges for the region in facing the pandemic. In countries such as Haiti with precarious healthcare conditions or in Peru which is now the country in the region with the highest death toll per million inhabitants, this pandemic is critical. In Uruguay and Costa Rica responses seem to be having a positive effect. In this series of articles for the CLACS Blog, we will focus on the implications of COVID-19 in the region.
What is known?
COVID-19 continues to generate more questions than answers that challenge societies and their contingency strategies. So far, the scientific community has determined that COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. There have been other types of coronavirus before such as SARS in 2002 with the outbreak epicenter in China or MERS in 2012 with an outbreak epicenter in the Middle East. COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Older adults have a major risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19; as of July 18, around 80% of the deaths in the US due to Covid-19 have been 65 years or older. As the virus is spreading easily between people, measures such as social distancing and quarantines have been the main tools for preventing virus transmission while the world waits for a vaccine.
On Thursday, June 18th, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, giving thousands of young immigrants a relief from imminent deportation. This decision gives DACA recipients, or Dreamers as they are better known, and the activists who support them a temporary victory and a pathway to building the momentum needed towards permanent solutions such as giving a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants. Education on these issues is critical in helping all who support immigrants and want to affect change on behalf of their families, neighbors, coworkers, students, who make an important part of the city and make the country whole.
Over the years, CLACS has created public programming and teacher training initiatives, as well as supported faculty and student research, on different aspects of migration in order to promote an understanding of the diversity of the Latin American experience in the US. Programming such as the decade-long collaborative film and conversation series Indocumentales, opened our space to community members, filmmakers, educators and activists in an effort to build networks of solidarity and resources while exposing audiences to the nuances of issues related to immigration.
On April 2019, Indocumentales featured a screening of The Unafraid, a film by Anayansi Prado and Heather Courtney that documents the lives of three dreamers -Alejandro, Silvia and Aldo- in Georgia and their journey towards college life in a state that denied them the opportunity to attend their higher education institutions. Here is a video of the conversation following its screening featuring Andrew Lim of the Partnership for a New American Economy and Staff Attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project (IRP) Celso Perez.
More insightful Indocumentales Q&A sessions can be found on this playlist.
At CLACS we stand in solidarity with the plight of Black, Afro-Descendants, and Afro-Indigenous communities, as well as with Indigenous People, and Immigrants, and against racism, xenophobia, and abuse of any kind. Through the years, we have created promoted scholarship, initiatives and programming designed to address the historical, cultural, and institutional roots of these issues and open the academic space to these conversations. As part of our commitment to continue promoting conversations and offering educational resources that would help further the understanding our current state of affairs, we want to share in one place some of those events held over the years.
We are starting off the Summer with two initiatives designed to give educators tool and resources to address timely issues of immigration, language learning, and teaching in times of COVID-19.
CLACS 2020 Teacher Fellowship Program:
Teaching About Language, Contemporary Culture and Immigration
The TeacherFellowship Program promotes the development of K-12 curriculum focused on the themes of language, contemporary culture, and immigration in Latin America and the Caribbean. The year-long program will include monthly workshops and mentoring by experts and CLACS faculty members, culminating in the presentation of a capstone curricular project that is both classroom applicable and that can be made available online to educators. Apply by June 5, 2020
Teaching the Middle East and Latin America in the Time of Covid-19
The purpose of this summer institute, indeed “unprecedented” is an appropriate term, is to provide through a month-long virtual format some of the tools and content that will be useful for teachers in designing engaging curricula for students in the age of Covid-19. How might historical incidences of plague in the Mediterranean and Middle East underscore the continued impact of global trade networks? How have colonial legacies in Latin America impacted the infrastructural and governmental capabilities in dealing with disease? What is the role of xenophobia towards and neglect of vulnerable populations, whether Middle Eastern refugee groups or indigenous communities in Latin America, in magnifying the intensity and probability of the spread of disease? What can we learn from cultural or “traditional” health practices of these communities in preventing the spread of disease?
The institute’s sessions will address important theoretical approaches to terms such as “disease,” “pandemic,” “public health,” and “quarantine.” Specialists will be presenting on their expertise drawn from a variety of fields, such as area studies, history, medical anthropology, political science, humanitarianism and human rights studies. Through a comparative approach that utilizes Latin America and the Middle East as two specific case studies, though with constant connections, influences, and impacts from/to the wider globe, we will explore both historical episodes of disease as well as the contemporary.
On February 24, CLACS hosted renowned interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco for a screening of her film The Art of Intervention: The Performances of JuanSí González (2016), and a Q&A between Fusco and the audience regarding both the film and contemporary performance art in Cuba. In the film which includes footage and interviews, JuanSí González who now based in Ohio, talks about his performance pieces in 1980’s Havana and the politics of art in the Caribbean island. The discussion also covered the role of art in activism and ways in which public performance art often blurs the lines between art and politics. Visit the CLACS Youtube channel to view the entire event.