Monday, October 12, 2020

Beyond Quarantine Fatigue (Oct. 12, 2020)

 Argentina's initial lockdown was viewed as a huge epidemiological and political success -- to the point where the policy seemed likely to overcome the country's deep-seated political polarization. But the "grieta" rapidly overcame the quarantine consensus, and positions on how to control the coronavirus became intertwined with political positions. 

Now, more than six months in, people's positions on restrictions do not correlate absolutely to political beliefs, and incorporate a number of other considerations, like economic necessity, conspiracy theories, and appropriation of epidemiological terms, write Pablo Semán and Ariel Wilkis in a sociological study that seems relevant beyond Argentina's case. (El Diplo)

News Briefs

  • A Bogotá judge rescinded former president Álvaro Uribe's pretrial house arrest order. Uribe is under investigation for allegedly paying a former member of Colombia’s now-defunct paramilitary militia to change testimony he had provided about the former president’s alleged role in helping establish the armed groups. The case has fed into the country's intense political polarization. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the decision, calling Uribe a "hero." (Wall Street Journal)
  • New bills aimed at restricting press freedom in Nicaragua, proposed by the Ortega government, are an admission that police repression of anti-government protests has failed to quash dissent over the past two years, argues Carlos F. Chamorro in Confidencial."These punitive laws aren’t a symptom of strength, but rather of the political and moral defeat of a minority regime." Hypothesis of why the Ortega government is pursuing the "Gag Law" and the "Cybercrimes Law" "are based on the regime’s urgency to adapt the Cuban and Venezuelan “model” of repressive authoritarianism to Nicaragua."
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is using democracy to dismantle it, according to journalist Julia Preston. She spoke at a Wilson Center event last week in which Miriam Kornblith, of the National Endowment for Democracy linked Bukele to a global trend of "democratic recession." (Infobae)
  • The number of people to have died from Covid-19 in Brazil has passed 150,000, according to the country's health authorities. (BBC)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is more popular than ever, despite the country's coronavirus death toll. This is due, in large part, to emergency aid payments to the country's poorest. But the end of the policy could come at a political cost for Bolsonaro, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian physicians are up against a twin scourge: coronavirus and misinformation. The country has historically been one of one of the most vaccination friendly in the world, but  "the uncertainties unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic — amplified by social media and echoed by a polarizing president who has flouted health guidelines and promoted miracle cures — has rapidly eroded trust painstakingly built over decades," reports the Washington Post.
  • Massive Peruvian seizures of contraband cigarettes demonstrate the resilience of black market tobacco in times of Covid-19 -- Insight Crime.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic church’s role in the oppression of indigenous people in the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. He also asked the Vatican to temporarily return several ancient indigenous manuscripts held in its library, ahead of next year’s 500-year anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, reports the Guardian.
  • Pope Francis on issued an urgent call to action to defend the planet and help the poor in his second TED talk, reports the Associated Press.
  • Argentina’s Justice and Human Rights Ministry is regularly publishing online the personal data of children with open arrest warrants, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The Buenos Aires city government has then been loading the images and identities of these children into a facial recognition system used at the city’s train stations, despite significant errors in the national government’s database and the technology’s higher risk of false matches for children. (See also Washington Post.)
  • If you are a millionaire interested in a private island to escape the pandemic -- it's complicated. (New York Times)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.

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