As at 29 October 2020, Latin America had reported close to 10.9 million cases of COVID-19 and close to 393,000 deaths. The region accounts for less than one tenth of the world’s population, yet has one third of the recorded deaths from COVID-19. Most schools in the region have remained closed since initial lockdown in March. Only two countries, Nicaragua and Uruguay, have fully reopened schools, while Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia have partially reopened schools. Schools in the remaining 12 countries of Central and Southern America remain closed, the majority through the end of 2020 or early 2021. As at 30 September, approximately 98% of more than 131 million school-aged children in Latin America were not receiving face-to-face education.
At the end of August, the number of recorded COVID-19 deaths in Mexico reached 60,000, making it the country with the third highest death toll in the world, after the United States and Brazil. The COVID-19 epidemic in Mexico is interacting with other crisis dynamics in the country. Most notably, the pandemic has provided the Trump administration with an opportunity to further its agenda to block immigration into the United States leaving thousands of migrants on the Mexican side of the border in limbo with their right to access asylum withheld indefinitely.
Since the beginning of 2019, a regional epidemic cycle of dengue has broken out in Latin American and the Caribbean. According to the government, as of 2 September, Mexico has 11,593 confirmed cases of dengue, including 798 cases of severe dengue. However, the total number of probable cases is expected to be much higher by the end of 2019. 70% of the cases are primarily within five of Mexico’s provinces: Chiapas, Jalisco, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Quintana Roo. Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (Veracruz) a state with a population of over 8.1 million, has the highest total number of dengue (3,234). As of 31 August, Veracruz has 3,234 confirmed cases of dengue, including 82 cases of severe dengue, and 2 confirmed deaths. This number is already higher than the figure for the entirety of 2018 for Veracruz, which had 2,239 cases of dengue and 95 cases of severe dengue. Given that the rainy season is expected to continue until October, this number could continue to increase.
Since 13 October, several thousand migrants have left Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to form two large caravans and multiple smaller groups travelling by foot towards the United States border. At least 9,000 people have entered Mexican territory since 19 October. Protection concerns as well as urgent food, water, health and shelter needs have been reported. In the lead-up to the US mid-term congressional elections the caravan has become a highly politicised issue, which put pressure on the Mexican state to prevent migrants entering the US and to create incentives for migrants to apply for asylum in Mexico.
In the northern state of Sinaloa, more than 150,000 people were affected by the passage of tropical depression 19-E near the eastern coast of Mexico from 18–21 September. Around 3,500 people were evacuated to temporary shelters and flooding damaged more than 19,000 houses. The agricultural sector reported significant damage and loss of livelihoods.
On 7 September, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast, about 8km southwest of Pijijiapan in Chiapas state. A related 7.6 earthquake occurred in Guatemala the same evening. Aftershocks were still being reported in Mexico as of 10 September. In Mexico, 90 people were killed and at least 200 injured. Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Tabasco states were most affected. Damage to shelter has been reported, with people still sleeping outdoors for fear of more collapses. Health and school infrastructures also suffered damage, mostly in Oaxaca state. There are concerns that food shortages will arise as shops remain closed and road damage restricts movement.
In Guatemala, an estimated 4,500 people were affected. No casualties were reported but two people were injured. Most affected departments were Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Quiché, San Marcos, Suchitepéquez and Totonicapan. Houses were damaged and health and education provision disrupted.