By: Abi Flynn Chamberlain
August 11, 2020
Though much has changed in the world, ICADS has pressed on into our study of social justice issues. Travel, hand shakes, and large gatherings might be off the table during COVID-19, but digging deeper into topics like human rights, public health, and social justice is not. Just a few weeks ago, Javier, our co-director here at ICADS, held a webinar with students from the Northwestern University's Global Engagement Studies Institute, or GESI. The webinar gives an overview of the the different responses to COVID-19 by both the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan governments. Both countries have a long history of tension, which has only been heightened and exasperated by the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused much economic turmoil and physical suffering to many who were already vulnerable.
In a recent blog post, GESI wrote about the webinar:
"Within Costa Rica, 10% of the population are immigrants. Of that 10% immigrate population, 97% are Nicaraguans. COVID-19 cases in Costa Rica are 27% attributed to foreigners, giving way to increased xenophobia. Many outbreaks have been among the most vulnerable populations, living in dire conditions or poor working conditions. “The problem is NOT Nicaraguans—it’s the conditions they are forced to live in. It brings up xenophobia we already had.” After laying out the historical context, Arguedas summarized by drawing parallels between Costa Rica and the United States. “The populations that have been historically marginalized in the US and in Costa Rica are the most affected. COVID brings out the best and worst of humankind. On one hand, it shows the solidarity of the communities towards those most in need. On the other hand, it reaffirms how our current economic system is a system based on social exclusion.”
Watch the full webinar here!
Included in our course material this semester at ICADS is a video exploring the economic challenges and pressures COVID-19 has imposed on many people in Costa Rica.
Katherine Peters is an intercultural educator, Spanish professor, and former Assistant Director of ICADS in Costa Rica. Check out and follow her new blog "New Backwater" and her reflections on her time in Costa Rica.
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