Latin American poverty reaches unprecedented levels

Ava Wilson

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Latin American poverty reaches unprecedented levels

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create hardships as poverty skyrockets in Latin American countries, reaching peaks that had not been achieved in for decades. This economic catastrophe continues to sweep into unforeseen territory, forcing millions to tackle new challenges.  

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) recently reported that the number of people below the poverty line hit a staggering 209 million by the end of 2020, which is 22 million more than the previous year. Of that total, 78 million are living under the extreme poverty line, which is defined as living off of less than $1.90 a day according to the United Nations. This marks an increase of 8 million people facing extreme poverty within the past year.   

“The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the region’s major structural gaps and currently, we are living in a time of heightened uncertainty in which neither the way out of the crisis nor the speed of that process is yet known,” Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary, said 

 The ECLAC reported highlights regarding the major market effects of COVID-19 play a key role in the regional devastation as well as intensifies impacts on those who face the most inequality in the workforce: women, adolescents, and migrants. Indigenous groups, Afro-descendant persons, rural areas, and populations with lower education levels are also struggling from the drastic poverty increase.   

“Many people were already struggling before the pandemic and now with limited use of things, it became harder for them to work, pay, and stay healthy,” Valeria Sanchex, senior, said.  

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