Statement by the DJPC on the Covid-19 Pandemic
To our DJPC supporters, this is an especially challenging time and our thoughts are with all of you as we shelter in our homes to limit the effects of Covid-19. We ask everyone to keep our health workers and all essential personnel in their thoughts as they go about the dangerous work of caring for patients and providing our needed services. We are especially concerned about the vulnerability of maintenance and janitorial workers who are often immigrants and people of color. On behalf of these hard working individuals, we call for adequate sick pay, time off to care for loved ones, and proper health care benefits.
For the last 40 years, DJPC has stood in solidarity with many communities of Latin America. While this new environment affects us all, with no distinction, it will hit the poorest and those in the informal sector, who lack access to health systems and safety nets, particularly hard. These populations, already weakened by neoliberalism and privatization, live in tightly packed zones such as slums, and cannot survive if they do not work.
There are also worrying signs that leaders in the region will use the virus as an excuse to crack down on civil liberties and further erode already weak democratic institutions. US policy, rather than seeking to reverse the political interventions and economic extraction that drives people from their homes, has intensified its attacks on fragile Latin American societies. Sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have intensified, precisely when these countries need access to life-saving medical supplies, threatening explosions of the virus that will spill across borders and affect the region.
We are also concerned about the health risks of immigrants and refugees held in the many detention centers across the country. These centers, which are often overcrowded and lack adequate medical facilities, are potential breeding grounds for the virus. Because of this, we join with public health officials in calling for the release of detainees and other adjustments to minimize this danger to their health and safety as well as that of the public.
As we go forward, the DJPC will be making some changes to adjust to the need for physical distancing, we will continue to promote social solidarity, in new ways. Already, plans are underway for “Zoom” forums, videoconferencing, and online social events. We will continue to publish the DJPC newsletter, giving special attention to the implications of the Covid-19 contagion for vulnerable groups, international efforts to bring the epidemic under control, and, as always, the defense of the basic human rights of all.
We take this moment to thank you for staying with us in the struggle for justice and peace. Stay safe and stay well!