Bolivia ahead of elections (March 17, 2020)
Jon Lee Anderson's take on the great question of 2019: ¿Bolivia, coup or not? It's complicated, he shows in this New Yorker deep-dive into Bolivia's complicated political situation leading up to, and after, Evo Morales' ouster last year. "Morales’s alleged electoral fraud, and his party’s acceptance of new elections without him, makes it difficult to call his ouster a coup. Añez’s behavior makes it hard not to. In addition to the violence committed by security forces, her government announced early this year that it would investigate nearly six hundred former members of Morales’s administration. According to the United Nations, at least a hundred and sixty people, including senior officials, have been prosecuted or detained, on accusations that range from corruption and terrorism to “making illegal appointments.” In January, Áñez, urging unity in the elections, warned the country not to allow “the savages to return to power." " (New Yorker)
The Bolivian Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) disqualified more tan 147 000 citizens from the voter registration, reports TeleSur.
Morales' MAS party candidate, Luis Arce, is leading in the polls ahead of the May presidential election redo, reports AFP.
Challenges to the U.S. “Asylum Cooperation Agreements” (ACAs) with Central American countries are mounting, writes Fulton Armstrong at the Aula Blog. The agreements, under which the U.S. sends asylum seekers to third countries -- Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador -- have been widely criticized by experts, advocates and politicians, but none of that has shaken the Trump administration, he writes.
Carlos Chamorro writes about how journalists in Nicaragua are standing up to the significant challenges and restrictions the press faces under the Ortega government. Attacks against the press have grown exponentially since protests against Ortega were repressed starting in April 2018, and have grown in intensity. "According to the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, more than 2,100 acts of aggression against journalists and media outlets have been registered during this period." (Confidencial)
The vote recount for Guyana's March 2 election has been delayed -- it was scheduled to start yesterday -- in part due to disagreement over the modality for the new vote tally, reports Kaieteur News. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Countries throughout the region are ramping up controls, including shutting down borders. (See yesterday's post.) But not all are moving at the same pace, and El Salvador's president and Mexico's foreign minister had a Twitter spat yesterday over whether coronavirus carriers were boarding a flight from Mexico City to San Salvador. The twelve passengers in question were 12 Salvadoran youths returning home from the U.S., but the flight was cancelled and they remain in Mexico. Mexico's government says there is no evidence that they are infected with Covid-19. Diplomatic relations between Bukele and the López Obrador administration are tense due to Mexico's granting diplomatic asylum to a Salvadoran politician, Sigfrido Reyes, accused of corruption in his home country. (Reuters, El País)
Nobody is really ready for a pandemic, but Venezuela -- which has been struggling with shortages of medicine and basic supplies for years -- is particularly unprepared. Covid-19 cases reached 33 in Venezuela yesterday evening, reports the Guardian. (See Friday's briefs as well.)
Caracas is under "collective quarantine" as of yesterday, and security forces on motorcycles and in vehicles patrolled the streets to enforce the containment measures and ensure that only food stores remained open, reports AFP.
For those of us in the Americas, countries further ahead in Covid-19 infection rates seem like bleak future potentials. Like science-fiction letters from the future, articles by people on the other side of the ocean plead with us to take measures quickly to avoid the worst outcomes.
In this exemplar, Ignacio Escolar imparts lessons learned by Spain -- and recognizes the very real difficulty for Latinos trying to avoid physical contact with salutations. (Post Opinión)
And in this one, Diego Fonseca, makes a call for personal responsibility from Igualada in Spain, where he said many people are failing to follow the clear isolation guidelines. "If the idea of spending at least 15 days locked in the house is a headache ... worst would be the opposite result: walking on the street thinking ourselves healthy when we could be asymptomatic carriers. Human virus distribution machines."(New York Times Español)
Covid-19 reminds us that humans aren't the center of the universe, and a new genre of literature puts us more into more cosmic, universal perspective, writes Jorge Carrión in New York Times Español.
Cuba's government permitted a British cruise ship carrying five people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 to dock at a port on the island, reports the Miami Herald.
Cruise ships around the world's oceans are in limbo as ports shut down to them, reports the Guardian.
The Intercept has the story behind the strong rumors last week that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had tested positive for coronavirus: Fox News had received confirmation from Bolsonaro's son, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro. The younger Bolsonaro later denied his statements and accused Brazilian media of lying about the issue. "Fox sources told the Intercept that they were shocked and indignant — and still are — as they watched Eduardo repeatedly lie and brazenly deny that he told the network that his father’s test was positive, even though he had done exactly that twice."
Brazil's government announced measures to inject $30 billion into the economy to soften the impact of coronavirus, reports Reuters.
Brazil is hiring doctors to fight coronavirus, and the push will ultimately include Cuban doctors who formed part of a now discontinued program with Cuba, reports Reuters.
Hundreds of prisoners escaped from four semi-open prisons in Brazil's São Paulo state, after Easter holidays were cancelled and visitor restrictions tightened due to coronavirus, reports the Guardian.
How Covid-19 will affect prisons is increasingly an issue worldwide. In Argentina, lawyer Graciana Peñafort analyzes the health impact for Argentine prison inmates, particularly those in pretrial detention. For this last category, the combination of jail and coronavirus amounts to an illegitimate death sentence, she argues in Cohete a la Luna.
Chilean authorities might postpone the April 26 plebiscite on whether to rewrite the country's constitution, due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Infobae)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has an enviable approval rating of 56 percent, and would handily win a general election if it were held now. Nonetheless, his popularity has suffered severely in the past year -- in January 2019, his approval rating was 86 percent -- an attrition rate that has particularly focused on his "hard core" supporters, according to Ricardo Raphael in the Post Opinión.
Cheaper retirement for North Americans in the Dominican Republic -- New York Times.
Handicrafts and tourism in Michoacán -- New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share.
Latin America Daily Briefing