Dateline: June 8, 2020
What a week.
It’s hard to believe only 10 days have passed since I woke up heartsick about the murder of George Floyd and then wrote this. In the meantime, we’ve seen mostly localized demonstrations against racial inequality and police brutality grow into a national – and now international – movement. Even the media seems to be getting it now: Whereas initial reporting was focused on lootings and riots, now the coverage is on the peaceful protests by millions of people in capitol cities all over the world.
And every day the movement grows. More and more politicians, large corporations, military leaders, police authorities, and other public figures are taking a stand with the protestors. Such as the NFL commissioner’s stunning reversal and apology to Colin Kaepernick and other U.S. football players who had previously knelt in protest over police brutality. That one’s REALLY astonishing to us – we remember the kerfuffle over Kaepernick’s peaceful and completely legal stance. (If you’re reading from outside the U.S. and have no idea what we’re talking about, go here.) Dare we hope that THIS time, things might change? That we’ll have a world someday where the lives of people of color matter as much as white lives?
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t slowed down; it’s just found a new hot spot.
Latin America is now the official epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, with alarming and accelerating case and mortality numbers in Peru, Chile, and other Central and South American countries. Brazil is still at the top of the list, topped only by the U.S. and U.K. in total fatalities.
Conspicuously missing from that article is Colombia, which is faring well compared to other Latin American countries. In particular, Medellín is getting a lot of global attention for the way the city has managed the crisis and kept case/mortality numbers extremely low.
Check out this story from the Economist that credits Mayor Daniel Quintero and his emphasis on proactive measures and data-gathering. Just another reminder of why we’d rather be weathering the pandemic here than just about anywhere else (well, if we could get to New Zealand, that would be nice!).
Nonetheless, numbers have been accelerating in Antioquia and overall in Colombia. That’s due in large part to rapidly expanded testing, which is now bumping up against lab capacity (also increasing). But another big reason is new break-outs in cities like Cartagena and Bogotá, where they’ve had to completely close off an entire neighborhood with more than a million people. By some estimates, Colombia is several weeks away from hitting the peak of the pandemic. That’s largely because of our “flatter” curve, which is a good thing because it has kept the medical system from being overwhelmed (so far). It means a more drawn-out cycle, but lives will be saved.
Other stuff that caught our eye this week
- Have a friend who still thinks the global coronavirus pandemic isn’t a serious threat? Show them this. Just wait for it:
- Per this Washington Post article, there’s more and more reason to believe that the novel coronavirus is here for good, even with a vaccine.
- Then there’s this about how Mongolia kicked COVID’s butt. Apologies for the salty language, but it’s a really inspiring story and makes some good points about biases against developing nations.
- One more brag about our home city: Mayor Quintero has just unveiled a new four-year “Eco-City” budget that includes environmental protection, education, recycling, and expansion of zero-emissions transport. Hope it comes to pass.
To our friends who like to say “All Lives Matter”
Of course, all lives matter. But in this world, in U.S. society and in many other countries, white lives seem to matter more. And that’s the problem.
There’s been nothing quite like the coronavirus pandemic to put a sharp point on this sad dynamic. COVID-19 is no respecter of skin color; we’re all susceptible. But it’s the people from lower socioeconomic classes, people who are so often non-white, who have suffered the most from this pandemic. People who don’t have access to sometimes even the most basic healthcare. That’s a big reason COVID-19 is running rampant in countries such as Peru, Chile, and Brazil. It’s wrong, and it just has to change.
Who would have thought the coronavirus might just be the catalyst for a new world order? It’s a measure of just how brave, and how committed, these protesters are that they’re willing to do it in the midst of a pandemic, taking part in activity that might be putting them at grave risk. May their voices continue to grow.
Hasta Luego. Let’s All Stay Safe and Work For a More Just World.