No Meat, No Milk, No Bread: Hunger Crisis Rocks Latin America
He couldn’t feed his family. Matilde Alonso knew it was true but couldn’t believe it. The pandemic had just hit Guatemala in full force and Alonso, a 34-year-old construction worker, was suddenly jobless.
He sat up all alone till late that night, his mind racing, and fought back tears. He had six mouths to feed, no income and no hope of receiving anything beyond the most meager of crisis-support checks — some $130 — from the cash-strapped government.
Today, Alonso said, breakfast, lunch and dinner all look about the same in his house in El Jocotillo: maybe a tortilla with salt; maybe a tortilla with beans; maybe a bowl of rice and beans. “We used to eat meat. Now, there’s no meat. We used to eat chicken. Now, there’s no chicken. We used to drink milk. Now, there’s no milk.” Even bread, he said, is off the menu.
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For tens of millions like Alonso, the pandemic has exposed just how fragile economic status is worldwide. In many ways, nowhere has that been more apparent than in Latin America, where a resurgence of poverty is bringing a vicious wave of hunger in a region that was supposed to have mostly eradicated that kind of malnutrition decades ago. From Buenos Aires to Mexico City, families are skipping on meals and swapping fresh produce for starchy and sugary items. Even in Chile, a developing-world success story, some neighborhoods are turning to community cook-ups in a throwback to the dictatorship era of the 1980s…. MORE