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This week, I saw an article titled, “Uruguay and Paraguay buck Latin America coronavirus trend.” This article immediately caught my attention, as few international papers mention the country on even a monthly basis. While it’s true that Latin America has become a new center of the pandemic, the majority of South and Central America’s response has been far superior to that of larger nations like United States.

The perspective represented in this narrative was euro-centric, grouping Latin America into one entity instead of focusing on the diverse responses to the pandemic. Our group recently completed a COVID-19 Observatory for Latin America, and each country has a unique response to the pandemic.

The article later stated, “(While) Paraguay has poverty estimates of 30-50% and is rife with corruption . . . the nation has kept its coronavirus death rates surprisingly low.” This sentence was frustrating; while Paraguay does, indeed, have poverty estimates of 30-50%, I believe that labeling Paraguay as corrupt is incredibly dangerous.

The word, “corruption” has been used as a tactic by large, wealthy countries to lobby their own interests in South and Central America, and it has led to extreme violence and repressive institutions. Paraguay was under a dictatorship for 35 years, one of the longest periods of uninterrupted repression in South American history. Labeling Paraguay as “poor” and “corrupt” is a way to delegitimize the country’s progress and create an impression of the country as a whole without consideration of the brutality the country suffered.

This article highlights the importance of choosing the correct language to describe a country. Paraguay’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been fantastic, especially considering the country’s healthcare system suffered greatly after a Dengue outbreak. The article should have focused on what Paraguay did well, and how other countries can continue to follow suit.