Coronavirus: in central America, aid which was not devoid of ulterior political motives

Coronavirus: en Amérique centrale, des aides non dénuées d’arrière-pensées politiques

“This is the part of the president (el Salvador), who sends you his blessings” is the ritual phrase from the boss of the state electricity company in el Salvador Edwin Nunez in the distribution of food parcels to families plunged into distress by the containment enacted to fight the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The distribution of food to families in need has been the main focus of government subsidies in Central America, which are officially recorded about 127,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,300 deaths caused by the coronavirus. But these social activities are not devoid of ulterior political motives, are the responsibility of the analysts consulted by AFP.

But the packages are inadequate, and many residents who brave every day the risk of contagion to begging in the street money or anything to eat.

8.6 million of the poor

Nearly 8.6 million of the 50 million inhabitants of the six countries of central America live below the poverty line, according to a report published last year by the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP).

In el Salvador, families receive a package containing milk powder, maize flour, beans, rice, pasta, canned tuna and oil, has found an AFP journalist during an aid distribution by Mr. Nunez, The Reforma, 60 km north-west of the capital San Salvador.

The salvadoran president Nayib Bukele has committed more than $ 350 million, and ordered the distribution of 50 000 tonnes of maize, and more than 2000 tonnes of other food. A groundbreaking program food aid is intended to distribute, door-to-door, 3.4 million food parcels.

The authorities have also donated $ 300 to the poorest families since April.

The hens of the mayor

Municipalities are not left out : in Nueva Concepcion (85 km north of San Salvador), the mayor Raul Pena wants to distribute 20 000 hens to 10,000 families, he told AFP.

“A lot of families with low incomes do not have the resources-food,” explains the mayor. Armed with a microphone, Mr. Pena brings together in a moment of people in front of a truck on which has been improvised a cage containing the chickens.

“Thousands of families are in need of humanitarian assistance”, grants the director of the salvadorean Foundation for Studies of the application of the aroit (Fespad) Saul Banos, who doubts, however, his use of “political purposes”.

“Package together”.

For his part, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has asked the military to distribute them in the poor neighbourhoods of the “packages of solidarity”, trimmed with maize flour, beans, rice, oil and pasta.

At the date of 3 July, some 3.6 million people had received assistance, according to Anarldo Bueso, the head of the operation.

“Me, I received a “parcel” solidarity, but many houses have been left aside,” says Pedro Joaquin Amador, an activist of the opposition party Freedom and Refoundation (left).

“I have found that they have politicized aid : the military were accompanied by “nationalists,””, activists of the National Party, of the president, ” he adds.

In Guatemala, these are business leaders who have distributed in march of the food aid commodities, while the government ensures that 1.4 million families have received each $ 130.

However, a lot of Guatemalans claim that only supporters of the government receiving the aid. There also, they are likely to run in the streets or on the edges of the road to beg for food or alms.


For its part, the government of the president of nicaragua Daniel Ortega has refused to order the measures of prevention and containment, and even organizes events or festivities.

However, the authorities continue, with a great deal of propaganda, to distribute the aid as usual, as a snack in school and food parcels for the elderly.

In Panama, the government claims to have distributed 1.8 million parcels of a base, while each household has received a “good” solidarity 80 dollars for purchases in food stores.

However, for Romulo Roux, president of the opposition Democratic Change (right), “the “good solidarity”, it is a misery to the homes of panamanian”.

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