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Latin America's informal workers face dilemma amid coronavirus

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 31, 2020 - Duration: 02:24s

Latin America's informal workers face dilemma amid coronavirus

For informal workers and garbage sifters who struggle day-to-day to make ends meet in places like Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, battling the spread of coronavirus by local mandate has left them out of work and could leave many fighting hunger next.

Gavino Garay has more.

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Latin America's informal workers face dilemma amid coronavirus

For delivery man Erik Thiago, life in one of Sao Paulo's favelas was already rough.

Now, he's risking it all to make ends meet amid local lockdown orders, bringing people their deliveries in this time of need.

Across Latin America, the arrival of the coronavirus is forcing difficult decisions on those living most precariously.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) BIKE DELIVERY MAN, ERIK THIAGO, SAYING: "I am vulnerable to getting the virus because I have contact with many people and motorcyclists." For workers in Brazil's gig economy, Thiago says he's thankful to still have work, by bringing people their bare essentials.

For other informal workers, the situation if far more grim.

In Rio, work has ground to a halt for garbage sifters, who normally pick the recycling from the trash.

900 workers from the Friends of the Environment Popular Cooperative are now without work.

With no paycheck, they're struggling to find enough to eat, and the organization's president is looking at food donations for his staff.

In Bolivia, 36-year-old Mary Mamani, who used to work as a taxi driver, held back tears as she worried about her 8-year-old boy, now that she's quarantined at home and out of income.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) INFORMAL WORKER, MARY MAMANI, SAYING: "As a mother, it is painful because you open your refrigerator and see it empty.

Everyday the food runs out.

As a mother, I don't know what I'm going to feed my son.

As a mom I stop eating." She's in desperate need of Bolivia's recently announced 'Family Bonus' of around $70.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the army is helping people from going hungry.

In country where at least 35% of people live below the poverty line, informal workers now out of work are lining up at a field kitchen to get their food rations.

The food is helping protect the savings of some of Argentina's workers.

But for scores more informal workers across Latin America, they're hoping to make it through the quarantine without going hungry, as they try to protect their families from the coronavirus.

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