Thursday, September 30, 2021

Covid-19 in LatAm and Caribbean (Sept. 30, 2021)

 The Pan American Health Organization has struck a deal with the Chinese manufacturer Sinovac to buy millions of Covid-19 vaccines for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports the New York Times. It is part of an effort by the organization to directly purchase vaccines for a region where vaccine access remains hugely disparate: on average, only 35 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Countries on the lower end of inoculation rates include the Bahamas, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.

On the other end of the spectrum six of the 10 major countries in South America have given at least a first dose to 50% of the population. Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay have fully vaccinated a greater share of their populations than in the U.S. A strong vaccination culture has fed into high acceptance rates in countries where governments have been able to obtain coronavirus jabs, and Covid-19 cases and deaths have dropped dramatically in South America, apparently from rapid and thorough vaccines on the heels of a horrific wave earlier this year. Another factor protecting the continent could be the predominance of the gamma variant, reports Bloomberg.

The region is experiencing a post-recession boom of economic growth, but incumbent leaders and parties have not been able to leverage that improvement into ballot-box support. (Latin America Risk Report)


Ecuador's deadly prison riot

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency, after 116 people were killed in a prison riot that started Tuesday. The move grants military personnel control of the Coastal Penitentiary, a crowded prison on the outskirts of Guayaquil, where the situation remained out of control last night. Graphic images posted on social media showed inmates from rival gangs Los Choneros and Los Lobos fighting with machetes, guns and grenades. At least six of the victims were beheaded.

One of the deadliest riots in the country's history, the violence stems from a turf war between local gangs operating for Mexican cartels vying for cocaine trafficking routes. A similar wave of violence broke out in two of the country’s prisons, including the same Guayaquil penitentiary, two months ago.

News Briefs

  • The process of rebuilding Haiti’s government has pitted acting prime minister Ariel Henry against much of civil society, argues Emmanuela Douyon in Americas Quarterly. Support for Henry, from international and local actors, pits him against a group known as the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which had been working to find a consensus-driven way out of the crisis before President Jovenel Moïse's assassination in July.
  • Henry dissolved the country's electoral authority this week (see yesterday's post) -- though the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had been named by Moïse under contested circumstances, without it, it is increasingly unclear when the conditions will be in place for Haitians to vote freely for a president or parliament, notes Douyon.
El Salvador
  • Two years after Nayib Bukele won El Salvador's presidency with promises to disrupt the political status quo, the millennial leader is being compared to Hugo Chávez. "In his quest for sovereignty, Bukele is about to break a democracy," writes Gabriel Labrador in a long profile of Bukele for El Faro.
Central America
  • Persecution of judges and prosecutors, expulsion of international anti-corruption monitors, and cooptation of courts have spread in the region. Iván Velásquez, former head of Guatemala’s UN-backed anti-corruption body CICIG, said in an interview with El Faro that the CICIG closure had a “cascading effect.”
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the country's feminist movement only started “two years ago” and bizarrely claimed it had been formed to oppose his administration. It is the latest in AMLO's long-standing hostility towards of Mexico's increasingly strong feminist movement, reports the Guardian.

  • Evidence and accusations are piling up against Mexico's former top security official Genaro García Luna in U.S. courts, reports InSight Crime.
  • Colombia needs urgent multilateral support to address its debt burden after Covid-19, according to Eurodad.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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