the difficult choice of the Latin American informal worker

Although thousands of employees in Latin America paralyzed their activities or took them home, not all of them had the same option, since informal workers do not stop and face the double tragedy of risking their health or seeing their income harmed.

"Wear your economic face masks for the coronavirus," two vendors shouted in the streets prior to the quarantine drill in the Colombian capital, a mirror of the reality of many informal workers for whom stopping their activities is not an option and rummage becomes a way. of life.

Faced with the coronavirus crisis, "Latin America, unlike China, Europe and the United States, has the great challenge of informality, depending on the country one looks at, it has a different weight. On average, 30% of the economy is informal in these countries and close to half of the workforce is informal, "the founder of the market research firm RADDAR, Camilo Herrera, alerted Efe.

The analyst pointed out that "this informality does not mean illegality" and that "seven out of ten of these informal workers tend to earn a day and live with it", so "they can be severely beaten with the containment measures that are being implemented giving in the region "before the coronavirus.


The legal services manager of the KPMG consultancy in Colombia, Juan Mauricio Joya, explained to Efe that "the foreseeable impact for informal workers is mainly due to the suspension of their productive activities."

"These generally consist of trade in goods and / or some services. Thus, when restrictions on mobility and / or meetings or agglomeration of people arise, this class of informal workers would immediately stop receiving their livelihood," he said. .

Regarding the health issue, "these informal workers are normally covered by the subsidized health system under which they are protected whether or not they are working," added the managing partner of legal services of the same firm in Colombia, César Barrero. Berardinelli.

"Hence, in such cases, they would not suffer loss of health coverage beyond what can be generated by the saturation of the system, a risk to which we are all exposed," he added.

This is not an exclusive case in Latin America as Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that it will be the most disadvantaged population in the United States. the one that will suffer to a greater extent the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, given the economic inequalities and the fragile system of social guarantees that the country has.

"The US government needs a response to the coronavirus that prevents people from having to choose between not receiving their wages or putting their health and that of their family at risk," said Lena Simet, poverty and inequality researcher at HRW .


Herrera told Efe that the effects of this crisis and the measures applied will have "an important multiplier action in the economy", because if close to 40% or 35% of the employed population in Latin America falls within these parameters, various forms of contracting, "the demand is going to be contracted" since "these people are not going to receive their daily income and therefore it is going to have an impact on spending."

This population includes, for example, construction workers, taxi drivers, commercial employees, hairdressers, bakers, cleaning workers or street vendors. "Clearly there will be a way for them to survive in the market, either with government subsidies or through schemes that they themselves find to solve the problem, but this is going to hit household spending significantly," he said.

According to data provided to Efe by RADDAR, at least 25% or 30% of Latin American households will be impacted by "that blow, which means that they have to reduce their spending. This will cause the Latin American economy to slow down ( ...) We see that this can be a brake of at least half a point or a full point of GDP growth in each of the Latin American countries that have contagion and contain containment measures, "he added.


The curfews decreed in some countries and the measures to preserve the health of the citizens have increased the demand for digital services, causing the residents of the platforms to have more active days, unlike other workers in large cities such as Sao Paulo or Bogotá. .

Given the current situation, iFood clarified in a statement that "it not only seeks to protect its customers, but also its home partners who generate income through the application." In Brazil, for example, a fund of nearly $ 200,000 was created to serve household partners who are quarantined or test positive due to COVID-19.

Reduced in some cities by restrictions on mobility, Uber said in a statement sent to Efe in Colombia that "it has been decided to support landlords and delivery partners registered in the application, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have They have been quarantined by a public health authority. Those in this situation will receive, for the sole occasion and in an extraordinary way, financial support for up to 14 days. "

"" Communications have been sent to lessors and delivery partners who access the Uber and Uber Eats app in Colombia with recommendations generated with the advice of public health specialists, such as frequent hand washing, coughing or sneezing, and cleaning and disinfect the vehicle, "he exemplified.

Daniel Salazar Castellanos


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