By Adam Jourdan, Aislinn Laing, Maria Cervantes and Diego Oré
BUENOS AIRES/SANTIAGO/LIMA/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – When the coronavirus hit Chile and abruptly cost Lorena Rodriguez her job, the 47-year-old nanny took a painful decision to pawn her jewelry – gifts from decades earlier – for cash.
Like more than half of Latin Americans, she worked in the informal sector, looking after two children in an upmarket area of the coastal city of Valparaiso but living comfortably on joint income with her husband of 700,000 pesos ($905) a month.
Then suddenly, worried about infection risks from Rodriguez’ bus journey to work, the family cut her job in March.
Without a contract, she could not receive benefits like unemployment pay or social support, despite living in one of the region’s wealthiest nations. A 100,000-peso ($126) emergency payment from the government soon ran out, forcing her to the pawnbroker.
“It was a last