The global emergence of the coronavirus has become, in just a few months, the greatest challenge for humanity. But this great public health crisis of the new millennium also has the potential to become a watershed, a unique opportunity to rethink our individual and collective behaviors, the same as human beings, as communities, institutions, or countries.
Without ignoring the tragic humanitarian balance of the tens of thousands of deaths, the countless medical or psychological consequences, or the unemployed, the pandemic must also leave us lessons that accelerate positive social change, in new public policies, especially in health, in the reorganization of priorities in public spending and greater international coordination.
The Earth Day that we celebrate this April 22 was an excellent opportunity to begin to rethink in an idealistic way a new global order, inspired by principles of collaboration and mutual assistance, in environmental progress as a tool for sustainability and equity after the collapse of oil prices, and in recognizing the role essential workers play in our countries.
While it is true that we have witnessed isolated examples of international cooperation to confront the pandemic, Earth week will largely pass as a missed opportunity. Worse still, what we see in the case of the United States is “more of the same,” with President Donald Trump’s announcement of an Executive Order to temporarily suspend migration to the United States.
The rhetorical display of migrants as scapegoats for America’s problems is not new, and it is not surprising that they reemerge in the White House narrative as presidential popularity has suffered a serious setback: two-thirds of Americans They believe Trump responded very slowly to the pandemic, according to a Pew Center poll.
The alleged spring that moved the American president was the need to protect jobs in the United States, where more than 22 million people have applied for unemployment aid. If the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated anything, it is that this country requires more than ever the labor for essential activities that in many cases fall to migrant workers.
From a public health point of view, community outbreaks of Covid-19 already occur within the United States, and the federal government has already adopted restrictions not only on travel from China or Europe, but also from Mexico or Canada. Even during the pandemic of the Spanish influenza in 1918, the United States did not prevent the arrival of foreigners.
It is therefore a political decision in an electoral year, with the apparent intention of enthusing and mobilizing those who believe that the migrants are the villains of the film. Suspending migration will not solve the problem. What is required is prioritizing health resources, treatments, a vaccine and tests, and more tests. The rest are smoke screens.
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