Monday, August 17, 2020

Bolsonaro more popular than ever (Aug. 17, 2020)

News Briefs

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's approval rating is at its highest since he took office last year, despite the country's 105,000 Covid-19 deaths. (Reuters)
  • Widespread coronavirus contagion in Brazil, combined with the country's long history of excellent immunization work and medical production facilities, make the country an ideal testing ground for a Covid-19 vaccine, reports the New York Times. Brazil has a universal public health care system with one of the best immunization programs in the developing world, but vaccination efforts have been hit hard recently by budget cuts and social media misinformation campaigns. 
  • Bolsonaro played politics with citizens’ lives at a time of global crisis, former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told the Guardian. Mandetta was sacked in mid-April after publicly challenging Bolsonaro’s sabotaging of social distancing, and Mandetta has hinted he could challenge his former boss in 2022's presidential elections.
  • Pandemic has increased sexual abuse of Brazilian children -- and the case of a 10-year-old girl, pregnant after being raped by her uncle, shows how difficult it can be to access an abortion even when it is legally permitted, reports El Pais.
  • A Venezuelan court sentenced 15 rebel soldiers to 24 years in prison for participating in Operation Gideon, a failed attack coordinated by former U.S. special forces members aimed at ousting Nicolás Maduro. (Associated Press)
  • The United States has seized more than 1.1 million barrels of Iranian fuel that was headed to Venezuela, according to officials who said the fuel was transferred from four Greek-owned ships over the past several weeks. (New York Times, Miami Herald.)
  • Colombia's government is fighting for the U.S. to deport a former paramilitary warlord, Salvatore Mancuso, who Colombian courts have found  responsible for more than 1,500 acts of murder or forced disappearance, reports the Associated Press.
Regional Relations
  • Nine youths were massacred in Colombia's Nariño department this weekend, a crime authorities blamed on armed groups. Colombia's President Iván Duque announced he would send military troops to the affected municipality, where more than 20 people have been assassinated in the past two months, reports El País. The move comes on the heels of another high profile incident in Cali last week, where five youths were decapitated, and a separate episode in which two teens were killed by paramilitaries in Cauca and Nariño.
  • U.S. officials will unveil a major economic investment program with the Colombian government this week, U.S. Trump administration senior advisor Mauricio Claver-Carone told Reuters.
  • The Puebla Group announced a new electoral observatory that will deploy monitors to upcoming votes in Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, reports Telesur
  • Former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, accused of orchestrating massacres that left dozens of men, women and children dead, has united Port-au-Prince's warring gangs into a new confederation aimed at what he calls “revolution," reports the Washington Post. But his target doesn't appear to be President Jovenel Moïse, but rather the government's opponents.
  • Haitian health officials and NGOs must overcome the country's complicated cholera legacy in order to combat Covid-19 -- Relief Web.
  • Witnesses and sexual abuse survivors who could provide evidence in an investigation of the Haitian Football Federation president, Yves Jean-Bart, have reported efforts to intimidate them in Haiti and the United States -- Human Rights Watch.
  • Honduran Garifuna communities have mobilized to defend their land from usurpation -- "Juan Orlando Hernández’s government has responded to this mobilization with a brutal campaign of violence, disappearances, and the criminalization of community leaders," writes Jeff Abbot in the Progressive.
  • The U.S. Trump administration's border plan walls aren't just for dry land: officials want to extend border barriers into the water, reports the Washington Post.
  • Pandemic has increased the numbers of women reported missing in Peru, and also made it difficult to investigate their disappearances, reports Reuters.
Dominican Republic
  • Luis Rodolfo Abinader was sworn in as president of the Dominican Republic, yesterday. (Al Jazeera)
Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vázquez acknowledged losing her pro-statehood party primary yesterday, after the second round of voting due to missing ballots. Carlos Delgado, mayor of the northwest town of Isabela for 20 years, was poised to win the nomination of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party by a landslide, reports the Associated Press.
  • Argentina will extend the deadline for its proposed bond restructuring beyond Aug. 24 and plans to submit its amended offer to U.S. securities regulators next week, reports Reuters.
  • Three quarters of Chileans -- 14 million people -- are beneficiaries of some sort of government support, currently, said President Sebastián Piñera, in the midst social discontent and coronavirus. (Reuters)
  • Coronavirus cases in Latin America, the region of the world worst-affected by the pandemic, exceeded 6 million on Friday, reports Reuters.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.


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