Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Venezuela's hidden Covid-19 pandemic (Aug. 26, 2020)

 News Briefs

  • Reports from Venezuelan hospitals suggest the true Covid-19 toll is far higher than the country's official statistics portray. The pandemic is combining with a broken health care system, with tragic and fatal results, reports the Guardian.
Regional Relations
  • Mexico and Argentina voiced concern over the OAS secretary general's refusal to renew Paulo Abrão's contract as head of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (See yesterday's post.) The IACHR said, yesterday, that it still considers Abrão its head, reports AFP.
  • The U.S. Trump administration's nomination of a U.S. candidate to run the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has caused a rift in Latin America, just as the region faces a coronavirus induced economic recession. Trump allies, like Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are supporting the U.S. move, while critics, who include Argentina and Chile, are pushing to maintain the development bank's tradition of Latin American leadership. The possibility that Donald Trump might lose the November election adds another complication for his nominee, Mauricio Claver-Carone -- who could potentially be in a poor position to obtain bank funding, reports the New York Times.
  • Former Costa Rica president Laura Chinchilla could become a consensus candidate to lead the IDB, according to Benjamin Gedan. (La Nación)
  • Chilean police have used quarantine orders as a pretext to violently crackdown on protesters. Demonstrations over food shortages have been met with violence from security forces. It's not just protesters: Amnesty International has gathered numerous accounts of arbitrary detentions and abuse including the indiscriminate use of teargas and rubber bullets against people breaking curfew. (Guardian)
  • Ecuador's efforts to stand up to Chinese fishing boats off the Galapagos Islands demonstrates the vast reach of China's fishing fleet and how hard it can be for countries to control it from overfishing, reports the Guardian.
  • At least 30 people have been executed for "quarantine violations" in parts of Colombian territory controlled by armed groups, reports 070.
  • Mexico's army diverted $156 million dollars to ghost companies between 2013 and 2019, reports El País.
  • Distance learning is difficult, if not impossible, in Mexico's poor rural areas, where infrastructure for internet and television classes is lacking. (Americas Quarterly)
  • Indeed, because of bad internet access in many areas, the government is focusing on televised classes for the new school year, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)
El Salvador
  • El Salvador's Bukele administration is making every effort to cover-up its spending tracks, even as local media uncovers evidence of corruption, including a $50,000 remodel of the health minister's offices during the pandemic. (InSight Crime)
  • Brazil's Bolsonaro administration is, by far, the most militarized since the country's return to democracy: The vice president is also a reserve general, and 10 of 23 Cabinet positions are held by either current or former military figures. The situation is provoking a backlash, however, and a new legislative proposal would limit the role of the armed forces in government, reports Americas Quarterly.
  • Folha de S. Paulo reports on drug policy around the world -- from zero tolerance to legalization and points in between.
  • Paraguayans reacted angrily to the loose enforcement of quarantine rules at the wedding of Sol Cartes, daughter of former president Horacio Cartes -- a stark contrast to the police’s strict enforcement of lockdown rules, which has included the use of physical punishment and tasers, reports the Guardian.
  • Ronaldinho is set to be granted his liberty from house arrest in Paraguay, six months he was detained for travelling with a fake passport, reports the Guardian.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.

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