Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Brazil third in coronavirus infections (May 19, 2020)

News Briefs

  • Brazil is now third in the world ranking of coronavirus infections, trailing only the U.S. and Russia. Officially, 254,000 people have tested positive, though the true numbers could be far higher, according to experts. At more than 16,000 dead, Brazil has the sixth-highest number of deaths in the world from the pandemic. (Wall Street Journal, BBC)
  • Brazilian medical workers are particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic ripping through the country: "At least 116 nurses have died in this country of 210 million from Covid-19, according to Brazil’s Federal Nursing Council—the highest toll anywhere," reports the Wall Street Journal. Workers in the sector lack protective gear, an issue that contributes the the problem.
  • Community organizing is the difference between life and death in Brazilian favelas, reports Americas Quarterly. In many of the country's informal neighborhoods, community activists and resident associations have filled gaps in the government's pandemic response, everything from battling fake news to encouraging social isolation.
  • Covid-19 requires moderate responses -- neither the absolute lockdowns nor absolute aperture that several countries have been carrying out, argues Mauricio Cárdenas in Americas Quarterly. "Unfortunately, centrist positions can be mistaken as a lack of resolve. But it is precisely in the center where difficult decisions are made, where leaders need to strike a balance between social progress and a business-friendly development strategy. Governing from the center can be harder, but it has never been so important."
El Salvador
  • El Salvador's Supreme Court suspended President Nayib Bukele's Saturday state of emergency decree. (Reuters) The president renewed a previously existing state of emergency, but was challenged by the country's attorney general who said it was unconstitutional and bypassed the National Assembly. (See yesterday's post.) Bukele said he would abide by the ruling.
  • Yesterday lawmakers passed a transition law that would preserve coronavirus social distancing and project four phases of economic reopening. Bukele promised to veto the measure, reports El Diario de Hoy.
  • Bukele said yesterday he would propose to lawmakers to gradually re-open the economy from June 6. (Reuters) El Salvador has been under strict lockdown measures since mid March, a series of policies that human rights groups attribute to authoritarian creep more than health concerns.
  • El Salvador's controversial quarantine centers have become a focal point of criticisms -- both from a legal standpoint and from a health perspective, reports the Associated Press.
  • Covid-19 puts Venezuela's "perpetual crisis" at the border of further collapse. A humanitarian agreement between the Maduro government and the political opposition could permit authorities to access humanitarian funding -- a worthy goal in and of itself, but also a potential shift in direction for the country's political stalemate, argue David Smilde and Geoff Ramsey in El País.
  • Each side in Venezuela has a different narrative of what has provoked the crisis -- but regardless of the individual impact of U.S. sanctions and government corruption, all of the parts share the obligation to react to the current emergency, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed. He also points to the necessity for a humanitarian pact.
  • The U.S.'s main Venezuela failure has been to repeatedly delude "hardline elements of the Venezuelan opposition into thinking thinking there is any possibility of a quick and easy military solution," writes Geoff Ramsey in a column published in the Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft.  "The Trump administration’s threats have not only fueled magical thinking among the opposition, but have also distracted from pragmatic efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis."
  • The asylum agreement between the U.S. and Guatemala that allows the former to transfer non-Guatemalan asylum seekers to the latter leaves migrants "without access to effective protection in Guatemala. As a result, they are effectively compelled to abandon their asylum claims and some who have a well-founded fear of persecution appear to be returning to their home countries where they are at real risk of serious harm," according to a new Refugees International report.
  • Express burials have become increasingly common in Nicaragua, feeding suspicions that the government is hiding the extent of coronavirus infections in the country, reports the Washington Post.
  • The first case of the novel coronavirus has been detected in one of Ecuador's indigenous Amazon tribes, reports AFP.
  • A tide of Covid-19 infections has started in Haiti, and threatens to overwhelm the country's already faltering health system, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Mexican local authorities are pushing back against national directives aimed at opening up the economy from Covid-19 lockdown. Physicians and public health experts express disquiet that the country is opening too quickly, reports the Guardian.
  • Two Chilean cabinet ministers said they would quarantine after coming in close contact with lawmakers who tested positive for the coronavirus during negotiations in Congress, reports Reuters.
  • Lives depend on Argentina's debt negotiations, argues Mark Weisbrot in a New York Times op-ed. "If governments are forced to use scarce foreign currency to make unsustainable debt payments, they will not be able to afford the health care, testing, medical equipment, and even “social distancing” measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic."
  • Governments around the world are suddenly seeking to reduce use of public transportation -- in Latin America several city leaders have pivoted to bikes as an answer, reports Americas Quarterly.
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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