COVID-19 Mass Death in Ecuador Points to Developing Nations’ Future, if Action Is Not Taken Now
April 4, 2020 (EIRNS)—Videos are now being broadcast around the world of the devastation the coronavirus has brought to Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil. The horrifying sight of dead bodies left lying on the streets; anguished family members begging officials to send someone to pick the bodies of loved ones still in their homes, days after they died; long lines of sick people, sitting or lying miserably outside overfull hospitals; are a foretaste of the mass death which will occur in the developing countries, if leading nations do not join together to change the current world economic system, now.
Ecuador, a nation of around 17 million people, is poor, but it is not, by far, the worst-off developing country. The coastal city of Guayaquil, where over 70% of the COVID-19 cases are found, is the center of the country’s wealthy, neo-liberal elite. It also has the highest percentage of poverty in the country, with great numbers of its 3 million people living in shacks made with sheets of plastic, poles, maybe tin, and occupied by large, extended families.
Its medical care system has been overwhelmed, and funeral homes have closed out of fear of infection. Death is all around us, one horrified young journalist reported; Guayaquil has become a morgue. Everyone has lost a friend, colleague or family member. Some people have lost four or five family members, so far.
Officially, the number of COVID-19 deaths nationwide is 172, but even President Lenin Moreno acknowledges that has no relationship to reality. High-level police sources in Guayaquil told Página 12 that the actual number is minimally ten times the official figure. No testing is done, and police are instructed to treat every corpse as possibly infected.
Last Monday, March 30, the government set up a taskforce to recover the dead and assure proper burials, after a national backlash against announcements that the dead would be buried in mass graves. In a national address on the night of April 1, the head of that taskforce, Jorge Wated, said that medical authorities project that there will be 2,500-3,000 deaths in the province of Guayas, where Guayaquil is the capital, in coming months.
Ecuador has the highest number of cases per capita in South America. Epidemiologists point to the large number of Ecuadorian immigrants returning to visit their families as a leading factor in the extent of the epidemic, pointing in particular to the fact that over 420,000 of those immigrants live in Spain.
The great exodus of Ecuadorians to Spain and other countries occurred in 2000, when the IMF and international financiers, with the support of then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, drove Ecuador into bankruptcy, and then forced it to dollarize—that is, to give up its sovereign currency and right to issue credit, and replace it with the dollar.
Lyndon LaRouche warned at the time that dollarization “is genocide.” “This dollarization of Ecuador, was calculated. It was intentional. It was an intent to destroy the nation,” he charged in January 2000. Speaking as a precandidate for President, LaRouche specified that the solution lay in adopting the policy which he outlined in his famous 1982 policy paper, Operation Juárez. “If I were President of the United States, I would act immediately.... The function of the United States, is to protect the independent states of the Americas from that kind of rapacity by international powers.”