Coronavirus Class War Looming in Latin America?
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The U.S. media are trained when reporting on epidemics to be on the alert for any hint of the dreaded Stigmatization of the Marginalized. For example, the AIDS epidemic was largely spread by needle junkies and addicts devoted to anonymous sodomy, but practically nobody knows that anymore due to massive retconning.

Thus, back in winter the opinion pages started running cookie cutter opeds by young Asian women writers on the make about how they were being racistly stereotyped over the Wuhan virus.

Similarly, there seems to be some kind of embargo on data about race and ethnicity of people with the coronavirus. It’s easy to learn the sex and age of patients, but not race, whereas with most other topics (other than crime), race is widely trumpeted in the press. My guess is that decisions were made long ago to downplay race and nationality in collecting and publicizing epidemic numbers to avoid stereotyping the marginalized.

But what happens when an epidemic is spread not by the marginalized but by the elite? I’m not sure anybody has thought that through yet.

This L.A. Times article is probably projecting somewhat, but I suspect it will just be ahead of the curve of what could be a sizable class issue:

Some of Mexico’s wealthiest residents went to Colorado to ski. They brought home coronavirus

MARCH 20, 20205:12 PM

… Of Jalisco’s 27 confirmed coronavirus patients, 11 had been in Vail in recent weeks, the department said.

The frantic effort to find the ski trip participants has highlighted an uncomfortable fact: It is people wealthy enough to travel outside the country who have brought the coronavirus back to mostly poor Mexico. Yet if the disease spreads, it is those with the least who will probably suffer the most. …

What would happen if the epidemic hit marginalized communities on the outskirts of Mexico City, where some lack running water and many live several to a room and wouldn’t have the space to self-quarantine? What would happen if it hit a rural village in Oaxaca, hours from the nearest hospital?

“Until today, coronavirus in Mexico has been a problem for the elites,” wrote journalist Luis Manuel Arellano on Twitter. “Most infected people have financial solvency and good income. When we enter [the next phase], the epidemic will be something else — widespread and massive.”

Similar conversations are rippling across Latin America, which has some of the highest rates of inequality in the world and a long history of bitter conflicts between the working class and the economic and political elite. …

Class tensions have been particularly contentious in Mexico, where in 2018 a leftist populist won the presidency with widespread support from the country’s working class on his promise to put the poor first.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has maintained high levels of popular support but is disdained by many members of the educated and upper class who dislike his economic policies and folksy style.

They have particularly seized on his lax response to the coronavirus. López Obrador has repeatedly made light of the pandemic, continuing to greet supporters with hugs and kisses despite advice from his own health officials that Mexicans limit physical contact with one another.

Unlike leaders in neighboring Guatemala and the United States, he has not taken dramatic steps to contain the disease, saying that a broad shutdown of businesses and travel would hurt Mexico’s already struggling economy and particularly hurt the poor. …

But López Obrador isn’t the only one to face criticism. Many supporters of the president have voiced anger at travelers who had brought the virus to the country and who did not take precautions to isolate themselves.

“The virus is imported by people with the economic capacity to travel,” wrote actor Tenoch Huerta on Twitter. “Those who ask that everything be closed and all economic activity stop, hurting the people who live day-to-day, why didn’t they voluntarily isolate for three weeks so as not to spread it? Or should only the poor be responsible?”

It’s a common sentiment in Mexico: The poor wind up paying for the sins of the rich. …

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