Monday, June 28, 2021

Covid-19's long shadow in LatAm (June 28, 2021)

News Briefs

  • "While many students in wealthy countries have returned to the classroom, 100 million children in Latin America are still in full or partial distance learning — or ... some distant approximation of it," reports the New York Times. Pummeled economies and frayed classroom connections have pushed children in primary and secondary schools to drop out in large numbers. "Some analysts fear the region could be facing a generation of lost children, not unlike places that suffer years of war."
  • Venezuelans are crossing the Mexico-U.S. border in droves: nearly 17,306 Venezuelans have crossed the southern border illegally since January. The surprise increase has drawn comparisons to the midcentury influx of Cubans fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist rule, reports the Associated Press. "It’s also a harbinger of a new type of migration that has caught the Biden administration off guard: pandemic refugees." Many of the Venezuelans had been living in other countries in the region, and are being joined at the U.S. border by people from the countries they initially fled to — even larger numbers of Ecuadorians and Brazilians have arrived this year — as well as far-flung nations hit hard by the virus, like India and Uzbekistan.
  • The trip from Central America for many immigrants is long and potentially lethal, especially for children, reports the Guardian.
  • Staying home is not an option for many of the Central American migrants who are attempting to reach the U.S., despite the dangers of the trip and the long odds of making it across the border. The New York Times worked with migrants in Mexico to create a series of self-portraits. 
  • Testimony in Brazil's parliamentary inquiry into the Bolsonaro administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic further complicated President Jair Bolsonaro's political panorama heading into an electoral year. Lower house representative Luis Miranda, speaking Friday before the congressional committee, said he held a meeting with Bolsonaro in March where he described a series of irregularities in the purchase of the Covaxin vaccine, produced by India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd. According to Miranda, Bolsonaro blamed his leader in the lower house, Ricardo Barros, for meddling in the health ministry, but didn’t stop the purchase. (Bloomberg, Globo, see Friday's briefs.)
  • The Senate is investigating accusations of negligence and mismanagement in the government's handling of the pandemic and securing vaccines -- a pressing issue as cities across the country have been forced to halt inoculations because of a lack of doses as delays plague shipments of active ingredients from China, reports Reuters.
  • Millions of people in Brazil are not getting their second doses of Covid-19 vaccine, yet another complication in the country's troubled inoculation effort, reports the New York Times. Part of the reason people aren't getting their second shots is the chaotic vaccine rollout, according to some experts.
  • Nicaraguan police detained Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios on Friday, under the country’s sovereignty law. He is the brother of detained opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro and prominent journalist Carlos Chamorro. He is among at least 20 prominent Nicaraguans – including five presidential hopefuls – who have been arrested since the beginning of June. (Al Jazeera)
  • Just before his detention, Pedro Chamorro had told media he would consider a presidential run for Ciudanos por la Libertad, reports El Confidencial.
  • The Ortega's opposition crackdown has turned Nicaragua into a Central American gulag, according to El País. Nicaragua's government rejected mediation attempts by Mexico and Argentina -- who did not join an OAS vote condeming the detentions -- and instead angled to discuss directly with the U.S. Biden administration, reports El País.
  • Nicaragua's government launched a blistering attack on Spain and its Foreign Minister on Saturday, alleging interference by Madrid in its affairs and imperialist attitudes towards the Central American country, reports Reuters.
  • "Ortega's Orwellian state has been in construction for years, persecuting, detaining and shooting in daylight, which makes the international community's anomie more tormenting," writes Diego Fonseca in a New York Times Español guest essay.
Regional Relations
  • U.S. President Joe Biden is not following up on his campaign promise to reestablish the Obama administration's engagement policy with Cuba -- it's "lodged in a low-priority file somewhere between “too hard” and “not worth it,'" reports the Washington Post. (See last Thursday's post.) Geopolitics plays a role, but so do purely domestic politics.
  • Thousands of Peruvians marched in Lima on Saturday in support of rival presidential candidates, Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori -- weeks after the June 6 presidential runoff that still hasn't been officially called. (Reuters)
  • On Saturday, the judicial panel overseeing electoral disputes swore in a replacement, after one of the four judges quit last week. (Al Jazeera, see last Thursday's briefs.)
  • Dozens of citizen poll authorities ratified their tallies in sworn declarations, countering Fujimori's claim of irregularities in rural areas that overwhelmingly supported Castillo, reports La República.
  • Looting at food depots last week in Port-au-Prince only deepened Haiti's food crisis, reports the Miami Herald. The United Nations estimates that more than 40 percent of Haitians, about 4.4 million people out of 11.5 million, are facing food shortages this year, including 1.2 million people considered to be at an emergency level.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque and several top ministers were in a helicopter that was shot at late Friday afternoon near the Venezuelan border. Everybody survived the attack that left bullet holes in the aircraft. (New York Times, Associated Press)
  • At least nine people, including four police officers, died in three separate attacks this weekend across Colombia, which has seen a recent surge in violence and instability in several parts of the country, reports Al Jazeera.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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