Law librarians monitor how Latin America and the Caribbean are responding to Covid-19

Guest post by: Ulysses Jaen

When the opportunity to work on this project was presented by Marcelo Rodriguez, a fellow AALL Latino caucus member, I was very grateful. México and Central América are major hotspots for coronavirus these days. It is both sad and frustrating to see it develop at very different rates in different countries because of their governments. As the alarming news of Covid19 ravaging the region were shared by social media and independent news sources, we knew this tragedy should be recorded. We must also learn from comparing how the United States actions, or lack thereof, have affected the region so severely.

Ulysses N. Jaen Director of the Law Library & Associate Professor of Law

I am a first-generation immigrant from Nicaragua, and with my mother stranded there alone for the last five months, this is always on my mind. She had to go to back to close our family’s business interests after the Ortega government continues repressing the people since April 2018. The economy has completely collapsed, and since the pandemic, Nicaraguan bordering countries have closed their borders and air travel to the US has been restricted to a handful of sold-out charter flights in May with the rest of pending flights cancelled for now. Our family is very concerned because the Nicaraguan health system is unable to cope with the overwhelming demand.

Because Mexico and Central America is such a big area and had such different individual country responses to the crisis, I decided to ask the Ave Maria School of Law library team to help me research. As librarians, they began to compile spreadsheets full of news sources, links, and dates, showing the devastating toll that Covid 19 is causing. You can find the insightful reports and learn for yourself at this great site that Marcelo created: Monitoring the Legal Response to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As law librarians, we strive to be useful. As Latin Americans with an emphasis in the Americans in us, we want to be good neighbors. Unfortunately, the vast resources available in the USA are not remotely available for some Central American countries. However, we learned that despite limitations, countries such as El Salvador and Costa Rica imposed strict restrictive measures, whereas countries such as Nicaragua and Mexico failed to respond in time or played down the epidemic. The results seem clearly in favor of those communities who have imposed tighter measures.

I will continue to monitor the region very closely. I hope to be able to determine what strategies are working and which ones are not. I feel that it is crucial for us to learn all that we can about the government responses to Covid-19. We know that we will be facing more pandemics in the future. Knowledge can save lives and we can compile, analyze and share with bright individuals such as yourselves to help us disseminate the information and find ways to be better prepared.

About malikahhalllibrarian

Malikah Hall is a Reference Librarian and Instructional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. She was previously the Diversity Fellow, Research Services Librarian, and Lecturer in Law at Cornell University. Malikah is very active in AALL where she is the current RIPS Law Librarian Blog editor, Immediate Past Chair of PEGA-SIS, a member of the AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and a member of the AALL Legal Research Competencies Review Special Committee. Malikah graduated from North Carolina Central University with a J.D./M.L.S. joint degree. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her sweet dog and anything true crime related.
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