Emmaus International

María Cristina de Urquiza, National Director of Emmaus Argentina and Director of the “Casa del Niño” at Emmaus Burzaco seriously and accurately depicts the inequality that exists between social classes in her country and describes the feelings of the population during lockdown.

In Argentina one hundred and fifty days of obligatory social isolation was imposed on 19th March, as the sole protective measure in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic which is afflicting all of humanity. As a society, we have blindly internalised the discourse of fear which imposes a lockdown.
In light of this situation, we have lost all certainties; we are living in a state of uncertainty.

EMMAUS 072 WEBWe have lost our routines and the benefit they bring to the rhythm of life, we obey the order to not associate with others as the only alternative for preserving our health.
There is sadness on the streets and the question that citizens are silently asking themselves is: Is this being alive?

If we think of society divided between the fortunate and the unfortunate, as a matter of fact, we can see that the general rules of quarantine affect you very differently depending on what side of the line you find yourself. There are those who are fortunate, with employment and healthcare protection, who have the option of staying connected through technology along with comfortable housing to shelter them.  Everything you need to enable you to comply with obligatory social isolation.

Compared to the unfortunate people who cannot work in their informal jobs, who have no healthcare protection, lack the technology needed to communicate and who live in poor housing conditions. Everything which makes it very difficult to comply with social lockdown. This disadvantaged segment of the population lives the cruellest expression of this strict quarantine.

In addition to the misfortune of their deprivation, the fortunate sectors and the government also hold them responsible for the contagion. They are the ones increasing the curve of infections, those who don’t adhere to the rules, who are making the plan fail. A plan which has systematically ignored them throughout time and different governments with regard to employment, healthcare, housing and education.

The outlook for Argentina, extended to the Americas region, is a horizon marked by over 50% of its residents in poverty, a poverty which was never far away: lack of work, hunger, malnutrition, overcrowded housing, crime... but in the future we will see it doubled.

The Americas region is already imagining how entrenched poverty will be on this continent.
We also have the task of considering the role of Emmaus in this new post-pandemic context, to some extent similar to the post-war period which inspired Abbé Pierre when he founded this movement.

María Cristina de Urquiza
National Director for Argentina
Director of Casa del Niño at Emmaus Burzaco