Wednesday, July 21, 2021

CHANGES IN LA: The Left, Green Deal, Int'l Cooperation (July 21, 2021)


There are some broader think pieces today that take a step back and assess the region.
  • The LeftMexico's Jorge Castañeda column takes in Cuba's unrest and writes, "I knew Fidel, and Raúl is no Fidel." And neither is Miguel Díaz-Canel. And so the government crackdown "may no longer be enough to defuse domestic tensions." He notes that left-of-center candidates have already won or are set to win presidential elections in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. "All of these candidates are, to some extent, carrying Cuba’s baggage. An end to the communist regime there would enable, if not compel, the Latin American left to come to terms with its authoritarian past and predilections."
  • International Cooperation: Javier Solana (former NATO secretary-general) and Enrique Iglesias (former IDB) write in a column that the protests in Colombia and Cuba and the impact of COVID-19 have created the "perfect storm" and demands a special focus on international cooperation. "Latin America’s problems must be addressed above all by its own leaders" based on "a new social contract" and "digital transformation."
  • Latin America's Potential Green Deal:  If Mexico and Brazil were to make "a green transition [they] could attract hundreds of billions in investment, help spur an economic recovery and let nations leapfrog technologically," leading the region with a "clean energy matrix", writes Shannon O'Neil (Council on Foreign Relations) in a Bloomberg op-ed.

The role of internet access and the media is featured in many news and opinion pieces (including the first two op-eds above).

  • A report by Franz Drees-Gross (World Bank) and Pepe Zhang (Atlantic Council) suggests that less than 50% of Latin America has fixed broadband but provides three concrete ways to advance the region's digital access. (World Economic Forum)  "Improving this infrastructure is relatively cheap.
  • Eliminalia is a company that dedicates itself "to the concealment of data and removal of online content" with negative impacts in Latin America, according to an investigative piece in One of their examples: in April 2020, Venezuela's Acceso a la Justicia website went offline for 15 days due to complaints of intellectual property infringement." 
  • OAN (One America News), the Trump-leaning network, "is launching a Spanish-language sister network,".according to The Daily Beast.


Cabot Awards
  • The Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on the America were announced yesterday and, for the first time, there was an all-female slate of winners including Eliane Brum (freelancer), Adela Navarro Bello (Zeta), Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) and Adriana Zehbrauskas (photojournalist). Special citations for "courageous reporting" were presented to Honduruan news website Contracorriente and Regina Martínez Pérez (Cartel Project).

  • Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon, became Haiti''s "de facto leader", according to Reuters and the Miami Herald. Exiting interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has returned to his previous job as foreign minister. NPR profiles Henry while the Times of London published a belated obituary on President Jovenel Moise - other version of obit here). 
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken's statement  said that the U.S. "welcomes efforts by Haiti’s political leadership to come together in choosing an interim Prime Minister and a unity cabinet," without mentioning that the U.S. was a prime mover in installing this very leadership.
  • The latest arrests in Haiti are of police officers, according to the New York Times, making it about two dozen arrests in total. (The WSJ says the number is over 30; The Guardian says that "the big fish" still have to be caught.) The Times has started evaluating the assassinated President in starker terms: "Mr. Moïse, a polarizing figure who was ensnared by accusations of corruption and increasingly autocratic actions during his presidency, but whose death has shaken many Haitians." 
  • "The money trail partially runs through [Walter Veintemilla], a little-known Ecuadorian émigré and private lender who lives in Broward County," according to an investigation led by McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

  • U.S. lawmakers recognize they have "relatively little leverage left to try to capitalize on this window of opportunity in Cuba," according to The Hill which reviews legislators' diverse opinions on the embargo. One issue that receives attention on both sides: internet access for the island.  Carlos Manuel Álvarez writes from Cuba about some of the same voices in Washington, in a Washington Post Opinión piece. One this is clear for him: the July 11 protests mark a before and after in Cuba's history.
  • The Washington Post publishes an entire article about the possibility that Cubans on the island may or may not continue their protests, even though "the data shows that Cubans are largely staying put." Many exiles in Miami are expectant and the U.S. Coast Guard is maintaining patrols.
  • The Wash Post's columnist Marc Thiessen dedicates a column decrying the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation's Instagram calling on the Biden administration to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Meanwhile, everyone should "reject the Miami proud boys leader who burned BLM banners" in a recent march, according to an editorial in the Miami Herald.

Rights in Argentina and Mexico
  • A new law in Argentina allows national identification cards to acknowledge non-binary people, according to MercoPress and La Nación. Caro Gero is the first to take advantage of the new law and is profiled in BAE
  • Veracruz becomes the fourth state in Mexico to decrimanalize abortion, joining Mexico City, Oaxaca and Hidalgo, according to Reuters and the AP.

  • President-elect Pedro Castillo is profiled in the Washington Post with a wide array of sources from Michael Schifter to anonymous Twitter posts. Like the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the article suggests that this election "is the most glaring example yet of the power of the pandemic."  
  • The United States is "eager to work with President-Elect Castillo’s administration," according to a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Blinken. This Breitbart headline may indicate how many are interpreting the news from Peru: Communist wins Peru presidential election after month of fraud accusations.

  • Colombian mercenaries are seen around the globe, "working legally as contractors in Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, or training cartels in Mexico", and now in Haiti. "They are in high demand because of their reputation as well-trained and battle-tested fighters, with considerable combat experience in guerrilla warfare,."according to the World Politics Review.
  • Mireia Villar Forner (Spain) has been appointed as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombia (see her Twitter feed)

  • Some indigenous communities have become vaccine skeptics, according to the BBC. "Almost 30% of Mexicans have received one vaccine against Covid-19 but in the state of Chiapas the rate is less than half of that."
  • The pandemic's impact on education in Latin America is reviewed again, this time by Bloomberg Businessweek. "By mid-June only eight countries—mostly small Caribbean islands—had managed to fully reopen their schools." The article emphasizes the potential danger in keeping schools closed but recognizes that "it’s hard for countries in Latin America to make classrooms safe. For starters, they’re overcrowded."
  • Cuba has seen an uptick in cases and mortalities, according to the Associated Press. The recent protests seem to have provoked (and not created) the rise in cases.
  • Three million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine donated by the United States arrived in Guatemala, according to the Associated Press.

It's Eduardo Romero here filling in for Jordana: let me know if I missed or misinterpreted something or perhaps you have a different take. 

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