By Daniel Clark –International Relations Student
In the region of Latin America (a region full of diverse culture and history), what was once a flower garden flourishing with color and hope, is utterly a shadow of its former self thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. Will the COVID-19 affected region be able to comeback from this mess and hold close to the cultures that gives the region its identity? Has there been enough done to minimalize the damage done by the lockdowns? These questions will ultimately depend on factors that are based on government decisions such as measures that were taken, initiatives that were made, etc.
For starters, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (n.d.), thousands of artists and creators have been left nearly without sustenance thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been among the workers most affected by this crisis, not only due to the fragility of the sector, but also because many of them work independently, in small and medium-sized companies or, in some cases, in the underground economy. Knowing how most companies in the region are virtually small in size (and have a history of lacking basic social protection), the pandemic has basically exacerbated the aforementioned deficiency into hordes of inequality and poverty. Thanks to the pandemic in its entirety, we now have state television networks, radio stations and social networks becoming the foremost tools for culture professionals to continue sharing their work through live concerts from their homes, dance shows, art exhibitions, debates, exhibitions of audio-visual materials and films, all driven by creators aware that preserving culture is preserving the future of humanity.
An example of some measurements taken from the multiple governments within the region would be from none other than Costa Rica. With the Ministry of Culture and Youth taken into account, there has been measures that were utilized to strengthen the cultural section of the country, such as the national strategy called ¨Costa Rica Creativa y Cultural 2030¨, that allows an impulse in competitiveness within the sectors of performance, audiovisual, and visual arts (for example: dance, film, and the designing sectors of culture). This can also be seen with the Ministry of Culture of Colombia (MiniCultura, 2020), who has pledged to donate an amount of 160,000 pesos to artists and cultural managers that qualify for this status while under lockdown.
While it has been evident that governments in the region have been taking action to reserve the pillars of the culture section, this has not come without any hindrances. For instances, the Ministry of Culture in Argentina (2021) had to inform the general public that all museums that fall under the section of Greater Buenos Aires had to be suspended due to the pandemic itself. To add on, one must remember that many governments in the region had to put restrictions on many cultural activities and events to avoid the increasing of COVID-19 cases, just like the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Chile had to inform the general public of the country that events requiring large amounts of people could not exceed 200 (Ministerio de las Culturas, las Artes y el Patrimonio, 2020).
In short, there are many initiatives being made by the governments of the Latin American region to preserve the culture section of their respective country, albeit with some setbacks. Whether it be by mandatory restriction or assists in proposition, the whole of Latin America has realized the leverage the pandemic holds on general culture and the damage that it can do. Therefore, the countries will do all that they can to preserve the arts that gives its society life and its children a legacy to remember.