Monday, June 15, 2020

El Salvador begins reopening (June 15, 2020)

Salvador's strict coronavirus quarantine has ended -- tomorrow the phased reopening of the country's economic activity begins, though health authorities expect an increase in Covid-19 cases, reports the Associated Press.

The end of the quarantine comes after the country's Constitutional Court ruled against an executive emergency decree prolonguing it, and President Nayib Bukele opted to veto legislation passed by the National Assembly aimed at regulating a reopening. In a televised address this weekend, Bukele said the lawmakers' measure violated people's right to health. (El Diario de Hoy, El Faro)

Instead, Bukele decided to phase the country's reopening through another executive decree, a move of questionable legality, reports El Faro. Several organizations of civil society denounced the phased reopening plan still violates the Constitutional Court ruling by restricting constitutional rights, reports El Diario de Hoy.

Businesses are expected to operate at 40-60 percent capacity in the initial phase, reports El Diario de Hoy.

More El Salvador
  • Last week the country's highest court also ruled that the national and local governments must lift military cordons around certain neighborhoods that are "excessive" and "unconstitutional." (El Diario de Hoy)
  • Burials carried out with Covid-19 protocol possibly indicate a far higher death toll than the official data admits, reports El Faro
News Briefs

  • Covid-19 is pushing many countries in Latin America to the limit, as countries struggle to limit outbreaks in the midst of Southern Hemisphere winter and economic desperation created by months of lockdowns, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Confirmed coronavirus cases in Colombia have risen to over 50,000, the country's Health Ministry said yesterday. Ecuador is approaching the same milestone, reports Reuters.
  • Covid ICUs in Bogota - the epicenter of Colombia’s outbreak - have seen their occupancy rates rise steadily over the past several months and last week reached 50% capacity, reports Reuters.
  • Colombia's largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has released six hostages, including two police officers and four civilians, reports the BBC. The releases form part of a bid by the guerrilla group to resume negotiations with the government.
  • Colombian Amazon communities fear coronavirus is spilling over from the Brazilian border, reports NPR.
  • As coronavirus invades Brazil's indigenous communities, the government has basically abandoned them, reports the Washington Post. "With little guidance on how to proceed, and less medical equipment, the communities have been left to treat their sick and dying with herbal teas, lemon syrups and other traditional medicines."
  • On Friday, Brazil overtook Britain as the country with the world’s second-highest Covid-19 death toll: 41,901 deaths since the first fatality was confirmed in São Paulo on 17 March. A University of Washington projection indicated another 100,000 Brazilians could die before August, reports the Guardian. As the catastrophe deepens there is growing anger at President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the situation.
  • Experts say that Bolsonaro's rejection of the emerging scientific consensus on how to fight the pandemic — including his promotion of unproven remedies such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine -- are one of the factors behind the country's current health crisis, reports the New York Times.
  • "Brazil has recently been consumed by speculation that Bolsonaro could mount a so-called “self-coup” – in which he usurps power from the judicial or legislative branch, or tries to shut them down, with the support of the armed forces," writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly. (See all of last week's briefs.) "This risk is taken seriously in Brasilia, and shouldn’t be dismissed. But such a sudden move isn’t really the Brazilian way – and it’s not how democracies typically fall apart in the 21st century. A gradual but inexorable decay, a la Venezuela, seems more feasible."
  • Supporters and detractors of Bolsonaro protested for the third consecutive Sunday in several cities of the country, reports EFE.
  • Today authorities detained Sarah Winter, leader of a pro-Bolsonaro group, who is accused of raising funds for actions that could threaten the country's national security. (Associated Press)
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó said the opposition would not recognize a “false” electoral body named by the government-friendly Supreme Court, reports Reuters. (See last Thursday's briefs and last Wednesday's.)
  • Alex Saab, a Colombian who also has a Venezuelan passport, was arrested in Cape Verde pursuant to an Interpol red notice issued with respect to his U.S. money laundering indictment. Saab is close to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and was on a mission to obtain supplies for the Venezuelan food subsidy program. U.S. officials have described the program as a scam designed to enrich Saab and Maduro. (Reuters)
  • Chile's health minister Jaime Mañalich resigned Saturday, in the midst of a steep rise in coronavirus cases that has prompted intense criticism of the government's management of the pandemic, reports the Guardian.
  • Chile's government and the country's opposition agreed on a new $12 billion stimulus package this weekend. (Bloomberg)
  • The coronavirus crisis "has marred Peru’s veneer of economic progress, exposing the deep-rooted inequality and corruption that have thwarted its pandemic response," reports the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal agrees, reporting that Peru's case "shows how broad measures like a lockdown can be undermined by structural problems." Issues like lack of running water and refrigerators mean the virus spread much more.
  • The CARICOM observer team at the recount of votes from Guyana's March 2nd general elections says it reflects the will of the people and provides a basis for the declaration of a result, reports Stabroek News. Last week the ruling APNU+AFC coalition rejected recount results that handed victory to the main opposition PPP party. (See last Tuesday's post.)
  • Discourse in Guyana is heating up -- President David Granger lashed out at CARICOM representatives, asking them to stay out the the country's political affairs, after ç St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves stated that CARICOM would not allow the theft of these elections. (Telesur)
  • Austerity measures by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have slashed the country’s national park service budget by 75%, sparking fears over the future of Mexico's natural resources as policing funds run out, reports Reuters.
Black Lives Matter
  • Costa Rican vice president Epsy Campbell -- the first black person to hold the post -- expressed her solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and her solidarity with the family of George Floyd "and with all of those who have shed tears at seeing how a police officer, with the complicity of his coworkers, tortured him until killing him." (Tico Times)
  • The Conversation traces how Catholic support for Black Lives Matter stems from a long tradition of Liberation Theology.
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. Latin America Daily Briefing



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