When you read this note, Colombia will have already added 100 cases
of proven coronaviruses. The speed with which the pandemic spreads makes the prevention measures announced the night before seem out of date in the morning.
One of them, «Bogotá stays at home» is looking for a preventive quarantine of all Bogota citizens (with jail and fines for those who do not comply), from dawn on March 20 and until midnight on Monday 23, announced by the mayor from Bogotá, Claudia López. Bogotá is the capital of covid-19 in Colombia, with 42 confirmed and growing cases.
But López, who still considers that the Colombian capital is not on the brink of mandatory confinement, explained that the general rehearsal in this theater of fear is for the eight million inhabitants to get used to the idea of how much the city is prepared, to correct failures in the face of a compulsory confinement and learn to live in seclusion, all with a flavor between pedagogical and preventive that many consider a waste of time and eventually lives if the entire city is not closed immediately.
Without a doubt, Bogotá has led the expedition of strong measures to contain the spread of the virus, but they always seem insufficient. For example, the lack of action by the national order, such as the real control of the city’s international airport – where practically all cases have entered – and similar tropicalism in many other international airports in the country create severe cracks in the containment system that wear down the efforts.
A country made cells
Although the Iván Duque government has been taking measures, they have been gradual, arguing not to rush and at the same time to have the least impact on lives and the economy. The lack of coordination before the actions of local or regional leaders has created fiefdoms and arbitrary measures that affect third parties. Many have closed their borders, others decreed the curfew; Even the 2,893 ex-combatants from the Farc and the government agreed to limit access to ETCRs (Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation), places where they demobilized in 2016 and where today they carry out productive, training activities and their life in community.
The government’s actions, in addition to injecting resources into the health system, from the oil coffers (the fall in prices will have a strong impact for Colombia), have been focused on taking economic measures, as it foresees that after the pandemic has passed and the health response is already underway, the other crisis that is looming is the economic one, which comes in a context of sparse growth and government weakness.
Yesterday, as a relief to the poorest sectors of the country, the government decided that from April there will be a refund of the sales tax (19% VAT), which will mean an additional 17 euros every two months to a million people. . The question that remains is what will happen to the informal economy, with millions of Colombians subsisting on the daily search, which absorbs 47.7% of the employed, according to official figures from the first quarter of 2020. More announcements are expected these days, in that dropper of actions and decrees that the Colombian daily life has become.
For the formal economy, that is, companies, commerce and debtors, the government has also ordered some measures, especially credit or tax relief for both sectors of the population and companies. In addition, those people who for lack of payment had their water service suspended, must be reconnected as a health and survival measure.
If it runs over here, over there it flies
Between yesterday and today the focus of Colombians has been on the madness of how and what to stock up for an imminent closure of the main cities and the respective mandatory confinement: not only alcohol, bleach and non-perishables are in high demand, but also board games, which are running out in Bogotá. At the borders, the situation remains difficult, despite the 75-day land, sea and river closure. The air closure continues in we’ll see.
In the more than 2,200 kilometers of border with Venezuela, the Venezuelan crossing has been practically closed. But the neighbors cross paths even at the risk of their lives (mafias charge 22 euros for the illegal crossing), in order to enter the country and have a health system that can at least diagnose them, a figure that will decrease and ease the burden. in several border cities on account of the mandatory curfew decreed by Maduro.
In the south of the country, the border with Ecuador generates other problems: in the neighboring country, the increase in the coronavirus has been very significant and the slowness to take measures pushes the border population towards the Colombian health system. A few hours ago, Brazil completely closed the border with Venezuela, in passing, reducing the transit of the virus to neighbors such as Colombia and Peru.
The truth of the coronavirus is that the countries of the region were caught off guard and incredulity and disorder high. In addition to weak health systems, this pandemic is an x-ray of the poor judgment that many governments have had in investing resources in health, basic services, and citizen culture. .