Thursday, January 29, 2009

Salvadorans share the hard times

Hard times in the United States are hard times in El Salvador for a number of reasons. First, a lot of families in El Salvador depend on their relatives in the United States to send money - this has been the country's biggest source of income. And now the jobs available to immigrants, with or without papers, have dried up. CNN had a story yesterday about the desperate situation of Latinos, many of them Salvadoran, in New Jersey. Those men aren't sending any money home, and the families here that have depended on them are hurting.

I can't begin to understand all the ways the global recession impacts a small, poor country like El Salvador. But one story in this week's La Prensa Grafica gives a clue. "Faces of Scarcity" talks about people who are postponing chemotherapy or going without post-surgery medications because Hospital Rosales, one of the country's largest hospitals, is out of stock on 85 basic drugs. The alternative is for patients to buy their own medications from a commercial pharmacy. Vitelio González found that it would cost him $600 to purchase for himself the antibiotics he has to take for two chemo sessions. His brother helped find the money for one batch, but that's all that was possible. He's hoping those sessions made him better, because there's no money for more antibiotics.

In the next day's paper the government denied that there was any scarcity.

1 comment:

  1. The interesting thing is that the unauthorized immigrants in the USA -- a fair share of whom are Salvadoran -- have been the economic canary in the mine. Their entries reduced sharply as the economy began to turn bad, long before anyone was paying attention. Many of those who are sticking it out are shifting economic sectors, possibly anticipating what will happen to the U.S. workforce.