The New Yorker:
On the last Sunday of April, in the small city of Leticia, Colombia, a thirty-eight-year-old security guard named Cristian Bolívar was at work when he received a phone call from his wife, who had some bad news. “Your dad is still very ill,” she said. Antonio Bolívar, at seventy-five, was a respected indigenous elder, and for three days he had been suffering chills and a high fever, which the family had been trying to lower with liquids, soothing baths, and acetaminophen. By that Sunday afternoon, he was also having trouble breathing. “I left my post right away,” Cristian told me. He rode his motorbike to his father’s small wooden house. Antonio’s temperature had reached a hundred and four degrees, so Cristian called an ambulance, which, he said, took three hours to arrive. Antonio turned to Cerina, his partner of twenty-eight years, and said, “Sweetheart, I am just going to the doctor to get some antibiotics. I’ll be right back.”
Leticia is situated in the Amazon rainforest, at the southern tip of Colombia, bordering Brazil and Peru, the two countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Latin America. The number of reported cases in the Amazon had been increasing since mid-March, especially in Manaus, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru. In Manaus, a city of more than two million, which has been recording up to a hundred and thirty fatalities a day (up from its normal toll of twenty to thirty-five), the dead are being buried in mass graves. In Iquitos, which has a population of half a million people, hospitals do not have enough beds. The three countries are divided by the Amazon, but the river towns are closely connected to one another. “The sugar we buy is from Peru, and the rice we eat is from Brazil,” a doctor on the Colombian side told me.
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