Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bay of Piglets further erodes Guaidó's authority (May 14, 2020)

News Briefs

  • The failed incursion incident has further eroded opposition leader Juan Guaidó's authority, writes Rafael Uzcategui at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights (originally La Silla Vacía). "Guaidó’s political survival depends not only on his capacity to rebuild  what was already a fragile alliance of political parties to promote a transition to democracy, but also on his ties to the country’s civil society, which today is debating whether or not to distance itself from the man designated “Interim President” by the National Assembly."
  • The failed invasion attempt is rightfully compared to the 1961 Bay of Pigs CIA operation disaster in Cuba, writes Jon Lee Anderson -- call it Bay of Piglets. (New Yorker)
  • Guaidó said the money paid by his representatives to the organizer of the failed mission was only supposed to cover exploring scenarios, not actually conduct an operation to oust Nicolás Maduro. (Infobae)
  • France accused Venezuela's Maduro government of harassing its Caracas embassy by cutting off water and electricity, reports AFP.
  • Venezuela’s central bank is boosting supplies of hard currency in the local market in an effort to contain a sharp drop in the value of the bolivar, reports Bloomberg.
  • "The Trump administration’s emergency coronavirus restrictions have shut the U.S. immigration system so tight that since March 21 just two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border have been allowed to stay, according to unpublished U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data obtained by The Washington Post."
  • Guayana's March 2 general elections still have not been called -- the pandemic only lengthened a drawn out post-election crisis with allegations of fraud and controversies over ballot recounts. The issue threatens to deepen the country's already simmering ethnic tensions and could affect Guyana's expected oil-boom, reports the Miami Herald. Last week, a three-member observer team from the 15-nation Caribbean Community bloc arrived in Georgetown to supervise the recount of ballots from an electoral district where the results were challenged, but the process could take at least 25 days, and even so the results might not satisfy lingering doubts about the critical general election.
  • The UN's human rights office in Mexico warned that a presidential decree ratifying the use of military troops should be revised to guarantee respect for human rights and citizen security, reports El Economista. (See Tuesday's post.)
  • Mexico needs comprehensive strategies to protect journalists and human rights defenders, argues WOLA.
  • James Bosworth writes about Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's multiple leadership style failures in the latest Latin America Risk Report. "While every country has some level of undercounting, Mexico’s failure to test, count cases and count deaths is orders of magnitude worse than most other countries in the hemisphere," he says about the coronavirus pandemic. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Mexico will lift its coronavirus quarantine in hundreds of counties starting next week -- localities no confirmed coronavirus cases and whose neighboring counties also have no sign of Covid-19 -- and will start to gradually reopen the rest of the country starting June 1, reports the Washington Post.
  • Mexican job losses reached a record last month in the midst of coronavirus lockdown, reports Bloomberg.
  • A rash of tainted alcohol deaths in Mexico may be related to dry laws imposed in an attempt to fight the coronavirus, reports the New York Times. Restrictions may have driven more people than usual to buy alcohol on the black market. It is also possible that economic hardship pushed people towards cheaper bootleg options, reports the Associated Press.
  • Brazil registered a record number of new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, surpassing France’s tally to become the sixth-worst hit country, reports Reuters.
  • Researchers believe the first Covid-19 death in Brazil happened in January, two months before the first recorded death in March, reports the BBC. They believe the virus was being spread from person to person in Brazil in early February.
  • The testimony of former soldiers has fleshed out how Colombia's "false positives" operated, in grim detail. Among other facts, one testimony alleges that army commander General Mario Montoya measured operational results by number of dead -- AFP and Noticias Caracol.
  • Chilean capital Santiago will enter a general lockdown on Friday, after an overnight 60 percent surge in cases this week. Health authorities also announced a nationwide quarantine for all people over 75. Chile had until now opted for a selective quarantine strategy in dealing with the pandemic. Curfews were imposed in Santiago and other cities, but quarantines were limited to areas with high incidences of infection. (Reuters and AFP)
  • Peru's rate of coronavirus cases is peaking and will begin a slow decline, President Martin Vizcarra said yesterday. The country is moving into a "final stage" of lockdown" reports Reuters.
  • Cuba began mass testing for the coronavirus, though the spread appears to have been contained, reports Reuters. New cases have fallen to less than 20 per day from a peak of around 50 in April.
  • ECLAC recommended that Latin American governments implement immediate cash transfers to countermand the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis and eventually move towards universal basic income. (Telesur)
  • The economic context and coronavirus travel restrictions could increase human trafficking and worsen its conditions, warns the United Nations. (EFE)
  • Journalists are essential workers in the pandemic context, but in Latin America they're facing layoffs and lack of protective equipment for their reporting work -- Knight Center.
  • Education authorities across the region are scrambling to move content online, but virtual learning in Latin America is hindered by lack of technological infrastructure and training, reports Americas Quarterly. Poorer students are often paying to access internet and sharing devices with members of their families, further hindering their efforts to keep up.
  • If you thought your kids' Zoom classroom was rough, imagine trying to legislate that way. Check out Colombia's and Argentina's forays into digital lawmaking.
  • "There is no one who likes to be a number, people deserve to exist in prose." The Inumeráveis project in Brazil profiles victims of Covid-19, a virtual memorial to the real lives behind the numbers, reports the Knight Center.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share.

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