As the FIU community adjusts to a new normal during the coronavirus pandemic, President Mark B. Rosenberg said he is turning at least some of his attention to our neighbors to the south.
“We consider during these difficult times that it is important to explore this pandemic, and the impact that it is having on our friends and family in Latin America,” Rosenberg said. “We have a tough journey in the hemisphere of crossing from Day 1 to Day 2.”
The Day 1, Day 2 scenario, as Rosenberg put it in an open letter to FIU students, faculty and staff, explains the futility felt in the face of seemingly endless bad news (Day 1) and how the South Florida community – and the world as a whole – can grow from it as it slips down the second half of the pandemic curve (Day 2).
Rosenberg hosted a live conversation in Spanish on the impact of COVID-19 in Latin America that included some of FIU’s leading experts on the region.
“One of the lessons learned [from this pandemic] needs to be the development of an integral, multidisciplinary strategic plan that takes international cooperation into account,” said Frank Mora, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC). “It’s important not only to develop the plan, but to make sure that there are resources behind it to carry it through.”
Carlos Espinal, director of the Global Health Consortium at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, said a short term goal is to implement immediate preventative measures based on the particular situations presented in the affected countries.
“We want to flatten the curve without flattening the economy,” said Espinal.
Among talk of what should be done to solve existing logistical problems – such as the international scramble for reusable respirators – the topic shifted toward potential problems that should be addressed before moving forward with post-pandemic initiatives.
“The rural zones of Latin America already had higher indices of poverty than their metropolitan counterparts, and we need to be thinking about their role in the eventual ‘Day 2’ and initiatives focusing on strengthening cities in between both the rural and metropolitan zones,” said Cristina Rodriguez-Acosta, assistant director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy.
Luis Guillermo Solís, former president of Costa Rica and professor at FIU, touched upon the political aspect of the pandemic’s effect on essential operations.
“I think it’s important that electoral processes do not get extended,” said Solís. “It’s dangerous considering that some governments want to stay in power indefinitely, or at the very least longer than its respective constitution allows for.”