MEXICO CITY – More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, a precarious human rights situation in the Americas has worsened, Amnesty International’s annual report said on Wednesday.
“What COVID-19 has come to reveal is how the continent’s historically marginalized groups have suffered for decades, as a result of inequalities, neglect and abuse,” Amnesty’s Americas director Erika Guevara told EFE.
The report reveals the state of human rights in 21 countries in the Americas, where more than 55 million coronavirus infections have been recorded so far, with 1.3 million deaths. The United States, Brazil and Mexico reported the most fatalities from the virus in the world.
The Americas started last year as the most unequal region in the world, a situation that has been exacerbated during the pandemic as an additional 22 million people fell into poverty and eight million others into extreme poverty, according to the rights watchdog.
Guevara pointed out that the governments of the Americas “must rebuild the region into one grounded in fairness, compassion and humanity.”
“The first step towards this is to prioritize the needs of those left behind by decades of abandonment and divisive policies and guarantee their access to COVID-19 vaccines,” she continued.
The Amnesty International official said that several governments in the Americas downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, responding to it with denial.
“We cannot continue down the road to ruin, repeating the mistakes that left the region ravaged by inequality, discrimination and destruction, even before COVID-19 struck,” added Guevara, insisting the situation is alarming in several countries.
In countries such as Chile, Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, the pandemic was used as an excuse to continue crackdown on the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the report said.
Violence against women, attacks on journalists and human rights activists or discriminatory assaults based on person’s race, skin color, and sexual orientation have also increased.