Monday, July 6, 2020

Abinader wins in DR (July 6, 2020)

The Dominican Republic's opposition presidential candidate, Luis Abinader, declared victory late yesterday. This morning Abinader passed the 50 percent vote mark that will allow the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) to avoid a runoff election, reports the Dominican Today

The results are a turnaround for the ruling Dominican Liberation Party which has governed for 16 years, reports Reuters. Abinader will take office on August 16, reports AFP. President Danilo Medina congratulated Abinader last night.

Voter turnout was high despite the election being conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, reports the BBC.

The presidential and parliamentary elections took place as coronavirus cases continued to hit record daily highs four months after the first reported cases. The government had postponed the elections from May, but would have had to amend the constitution to postpone them again.

The OAS mission said it had detected lapses in social distancing during the day despite efforts by the authorities, which also imposed measures such as requiring voters to wear face masks and disinfect their hands before casting their ballot. One member of the mission tested positive for Covid-19 and is in isolation.

News Briefs

  • Latin America is the global epicenter of coronavirus at the moment. "There are many reasons for Covid-19's outsize impact on Latin America: high levels of inequality, the vast "gray" economy of informal workers, a lack of sanitation in crowded urban slums, as well as slow and uneven responses by governments," reports CNN. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • Few Latin American countries are testing at the level recommended by the WHO, reports EFE. Though it is the backbone of the organization's containment strategy, countries face resource limits.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has left Latin America reeling, and threatens to reverse years of social progress, reports the Guardian. About 72 million Latin Americans escaped poverty between 2003 and 2013 -- the current situation puts about 52 million at risk of falling into poverty, according to experts. The region was already facing social convulsions in several countries, and anger over government responses to the crisis could further that trend. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • Brazil could have at least 8 million people infected with COVID-19, five times more than the number of cases confirmed by the government, according to a study released last week commissioned by the Ministry of Health that examined blood samples from 89,397 Brazilians in 133 cities. (EFE)
  • Informal entrepreneurs in Brazil adapted rapidly to Covid-19 -- selling hand sanitizer and face masks -- but underlying their creativity is "the confused and contradictory response of the Brazilian state has done little to mitigate the precarious conditions that informal workers face day-to-day," write Kauê Lopes dos Santos, Jonatas Santos, and Larissa Santos at the LSE Blog.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attended a July 4 celebration in Brasilia at which participants declined to wear face masks. The gathering came a day after Bolsonaro vetoed clauses of new legislation that would have required Brazilians to wear masks at churches, schools, shops, factories and private gatherings, but approved their obligatory use on the street and public transport, reports the Associated Press.
El Salvador 
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele postponed the second phase of the economy’s reopening by two weeks, yesterday, citing a still-rising number of coronavirus infections, report Reuters.
  • In the meantime, the country faces an epidemic of hunger, made visible by white flags households hang on their doors as a desperate SOS call that usually goes unanswered, writes Carlos Dada in El Faro.
  • Guatemala's Laguna del Tigre national park, in the country's northern border, has become a transit hub for cocaine -- ninety percent of the cocaine now consumed in the United States transits through Guatemala. Guatemalan security forces found 50 abandoned narco jets in the country last year, reports the Washington Post. Dozens more landed and then flew away, authorities say.
  • Data from the Mexico's National Population Registry shows that between March 19 and June 19, some 38,815 people died from Covid-19, compared with an official tally from the country’s Health Ministry of around 20,394 on June 19. If the pattern found by the population agency between March 19 and June 19 continued to hold in the past two weeks—that Mexico is registering only roughly half the real death toll—that would suggest Mexico’s toll is fast nearing 60,000, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Mexico City's death toll was three times higher from March to May this year, an indication of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the Mexican capital, reports the Washington Post.
  • Significant air pollution adds toMexico City's vulnerability to the coronavirus. The Conversation explores how the decision to bury and pave over the city's waterways created the current arid metropolis. "The relationship between its geography, history and health outcomes are relevant today," writes Elena Delavega.
  • Mariachi musicians are struggling in the pandemic context -- Guardian photo-essay.
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. Trump administration has hired a tech firm to create a virtual border wall. The success of the artificial intelligence system in pilot programs is such that it raises a question: why bother with the physical wall at all?, reports the Washington Post.
  • Transit restrictions along the Mexico-U.S. border are usually about preventing people from the south from entering the north. But coronavirus made Mexico wary about travelers coming from the United States, and border state governors are pleading with the López Obrador administration to vet incoming travelers to ensure they are "essential," reports the Washington Post.
  • Colombia's lockdown is pushing desperate Venezuelan migrants back home. Colombia’s migration agency has reported that daily entries from Venezuela have been cut by 80%, and that more than 71,000 have returned to the country, where they face a strict quarantine in squalid conditions on arrival, reports the Guardian.
  • A U.S. judge in Washington signed a seizure warrant Thursday for the cargo of four oil tankers carrying gasoline and fuel products from Iran to Venezuela, escalating a sanctions battle the U.S. is carrying out with both countries, reports the Washington Post. The action comes weeks after Iran sent five tankers and 1.5 million barrels of gasoline in a symbolic gesture of support to Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro.
  • The Iranian supermarket that opened in Venezuela last month is part of conglomerate owned by Iran's military and tied to its missile program, according to the Wall Street Journal. (See June 23's briefs.)
  • Venezuela's chief prosecutor Tarek Saab announced arrest warrants for members of the central bank's ad hoc board of directors, appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, for several crimes, including treason. (Al Jazeera)
  • Bolivia’s interim-president Jeannine Áñez could seek to ally with rival candidate Carlos Mesa and create a coalition against MAS party candidate Luis Arce in September's presidential elections, reports AFP.
  • Jamaica has become the first Caribbean nation -- and the eleventh in the world -- to update its climate action plan under the Paris Agreement by adding targets for forestry and stepping up curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from energy. Jamaica's government noted that climate change puts the country at risk from more intense hurricanes, sea level rise and a drying trend across much of the island. (Climate Change News)
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's new penal code -- which legalizes abortion and lowers the legal age of sexual consent to 15 -- has been attacked by some lawmakers as undermining family values, reports Voice of America.
Critter corner
  • (Because it's nice to end with pretty pictures) A hummingbird haven in Trinidad -- Guardian.



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