The world is facing an unprecedented pandemic that does not care about borders or nationalities. My country Ecuador has been among those hit hardest, with over 53,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 4,000 related deaths. Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most important commercial port and home to over three million people, was the site of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks. The city has largely recovered, but Ecuador isn’t out of the woods yet: Cases in the capital of Quito have surpassed 6,000 over the past few weeks. With hospitals overflowing and burial systems collapsed all over the country, there is no end in sight to this pandemic.
Yet Ecuador has all but faded from international headlines.
My country needs global attention. My fellow 17 million Ecuadorians are dealing not only with colossal health and human costs, but also with severe economic pressures that will have lasting repercussions on the place I call home. The drop in international oil prices and demand – a third of Ecuador’s export income comes from oil – has exacted a disastrous toll on the national economy, such that Ecuador may have to default on its $17 billion in sovereign debt. Although Ecuador takes its international commitments seriously, it may, like many other countries, simply lack the resources to simultaneously repay creditors and fulfill its duty to protect citizens from the worst pandemic in a century.
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