Bolivia's hospitals reportedly overwhelmed (June 19, 2020)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed "consternation" after reports that at least six people died on the streets of Cochabamba and La Paz due to lack of medical attention in Bolivia where hospitals are increasingly overwhelmed by coronavirus pandemic patients. (La Razón)
A Bolivian news channel broadcast a Covid-19 patient's final half-hour of life live, causing controversy in a country where images of dead and dying people on streets and hospital entryways are appearing on social media. (AFP, Deutsche Welle)
A conspiracy theory linking 5G to coronavirus pushed some people to attack cell phone towers in Bolivia -- which doesn't actually have 5G. The case took on political overtones as the interim president Jeannine Áñez accused ousted president Evo Morales and followers of fomenting violence (the vandalized towers) with drug trafficking financing, while Morales retorted that the government is training the armed forces to repress social movements. (AFP, La Razón)
This week Áñez suggested further postponing a presidential election do-over for a second time, raising concerns about the country's already tenuous political stability. Senate President Eva Copa, a member of Morales' MAS party, urged Áñez to "comply with the only mandate entrusted to" her by ratifying the election date, report AFP.
Fears are growing that Áñez, who has said she will run in the election, may be using coronavirus concerns as a pretext to extend her time in power – or at least put off the vote until it favors her politically, according to this week's AQ podcast.
A recent report questioning an OAS electoral report after Bolivia's presidential election last October prompted a harsh response from the organization. In a press release criticizing the New York Times' historical coverage of Stalinism, the Holocaust and Castro, the OAS alleged that "the NYT has a well-documented controversial history with truth in relation to dictatorships and totalitarianism ... The NYT’s publishing criteria are guided not by truthfulness and objectivity, but by political convenience. ... Obviously, we recognize the NYT’s right to lie, distort, and twist information, data, and facts, and to mix truth and lies as often as it wishes ..." (See June 8's post and June 9's briefs on the New York Times story questioning the OAS Bolivia electoral report and its impact on Evo Morales' subsequent ouster.)
Nearly 80 million people, or one percent of humanity, now qualify as refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced, according to a new U.N.H.C.R. report. The exodus includes 5 million Venezuelans who have fled their country’s economic and political crisis. Some 3.6 million of them were not counted in its previous statistics, but are now deemed in need of international protection, the U.N.H.C.R. said. Most Venezuelans have gone to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile, where their subsistence in those countries' informal economies has been put in jeopardy by coronavirus lockdowns. (Reuters)
Secret detentions, known under international law as “forced disappearances,” are playing a critical role in the Venezuelan government’s increasingly authoritarian efforts to control its population, according to a new report by Foro Penal and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. It documents 200 such cases in 2018 and 524 last year, reports the New York Times.
The Venezuela Weekly explores how the Maduro-loyal Supreme Court is disarming the Guaidó-led opposition coalition and undermining the possibility of a negotiated electoral solution to Venezuela's protracted crisis. This week the tribunal intervened against two major opposition parties and last week it nullified opposition nominees to a renewed electoral council. (See Wednesday's post.) "It is the eighth judicial intervention against oppositional parties since 2012, but the first time they do so against the main opposition players. It appears that the TSJ will also intervene in the last party of the BIG-4, Un Nuevo Tiempo, meaning that all major opposition political parties in Venezuela will be under government control. Juan Guaidó’s party Voluntad Popular will likely be declared a terrorist organization."
A new book by President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton presents the president as inconsistent on Venezuela policy in excerpts released this week, reports the Miami Herald. At one point, Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that the South American nation was “really part of the United States,” according to Bolton’s account.
A new bill introduced by U.S. Senator Rick Scott this week would target countries that hire Cuban doctors through the “medical missions” controlled by the island’s government, reports the Miami Herald.
The U.S.'s migration policies during the pandemic -- "holding asylum seekers, immigrants and others in facilities where the virus easily spreads only to later send them to other nations" -- is a "public health hazard" both in the U.S. and for other countries that receive infected individuals, argues a New York Times editorial that compares current deportations to those that exported gangs to Central America in the 1990s. "The responsible, not to mention humane, response when the pandemic struck would have been to suspend deportations — and to release as many immigrants as possible from detention centers that, like prisons across the United States, have become incubators of the pandemic."
Police arrested a longstanding friend of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, Fabrício Queiroz, in connection with a corruption inquiry involving one of the president's sons, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro. Yesterday's operations are part of a long-running inquiry into suspicions that Flávio Bolsonaro ran a corruption racket during his 15 years as a state legislator in Rio, reports the Guardian. Queiroz is suspected to have played a key role in that alleged scheme. (See briefs for Dec.19, 2019 and April 27's briefs on allegations that Flavio Bolsonaro financed and profited from the illegal construction of buildings by illegal militias using public money.)
"If the trend lines hold, some epidemiologists project the death toll of the epidemic in Brazil could surpass that in the United States by late July." -- New York Times Coronavirus in Brazil explainer.
Paulinho Paiakan, chief of the Kayapó people and one of the best-known indigenous defenders of the Amazon rainforest, has died with coronavirus in Brazil. (BBC)
Worshipers in Brazil and Mexico are sneaking into closed-door church services that share organizational traits with illegal dance parties in times of Covid-19 -- Guardian.
Police brutality is systemic in Mexico, and, too often, socially accepted, writes Catalina Pérez Correa in a New York Times Español op-ed urging demilitarization of public safety as well as police training aimed at prevention rather than punishment and repression.
A stunning surge of piracy in the southern Gulf of Mexico prompted a U.S. government security alert earlier this week, reports the New York Times.
Diplomats at the United Nations chose Mexico, India, Ireland and Norway in elections held this week to fill upcoming vacancies on the United Nations Security Council, reports the New York Times. Mexico and India ran unopposed for the vacant seats allocated to their geographic regions.
About 600 Mexican migrant farmworkers in Canada contracted Covid-19, and at least two died, prompting Mexican officials to pause a program that sends temporary agricultural workers to Canada. (Washington Post)
Prohibition has not dissuaded women in Argentina -- or anywhere else -- from terminating pregnancies. A new study by ELA, REDAAS, CEDES looks at data on Argentine women who have obtained abortions, breaking with negative stereotypes touted by opponents. There is not one type of woman who aborts a pregnancy, said researchers, rather women choose to terminate pregnancies as part of a responsible decision for a better future for them, for their families, for their children. The report found that 60 percent of women accounted for in Argentine abortion data already had children, and that most were between 20 and 29 years of age. In recent years access to the procedure has been drastically modified by increasing use of misoprostol, the assistance of feminist activist networks that support women seeking abortions, and improved access to legal abortions. (Página 12, hat tip to Tomás Aguerre's Primera Mañana.)
Monuments and public spaces celebrating slave traders and slave-holders are everywhere in Latin America -- though conversations about how to treat that legacy have been prompted by support of the Black Lives Matter movements, in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, reports Americas Quarterly.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... 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