Bolsonaro sidelining rumors untrue (April 6, 2020)
The concept of infodemia has been circulating broadly -- the misinformation regarding Covid-19 that is dangerously confusing people with fake news. Add to this a new trend of political rumors that this weekend circulated heavily (and appear to be untrue): that Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro was sidelined by a soft-military coup and that Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega was dead or gravely ill. These extreme cases illustrate how lesser political disinformation can play into destabilizing shaky governments, writes James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report. "The reasons both of the rumors spread this weekend was that they fit as a potential logical progression to the current narrative in each country. The rumors play off real events that are occurring, making them sound more credible, spread more quickly and become more difficult to refute."
Latin American geopolitics in the times of coronavirus -- Nueva Sociedad reviews how many countries in the region are looking more to China for assistance then their neighbors. In the case of Argentina, Juan Tokatlian writes about how the government's willingness to carry out a state-centric response is butting up against a reality of long-term dismantlement of public policy capacity.
Twenty five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have expressed their commitment to coordinate the supply of sufficient, safe and nutritious food for the 620 million inhabitants of the region during the COVID-19 pandemic -- Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
A counter-drug operation for the Caribbean announced by U.S. President Donald Trump fueled speculation about changes in the country's security policy towards Venezuela. Adam Isacson, Geoff Ramsey and David Smilde put together a fact sheet on the issue, in which they note: "it’s hard not to see this announcement as part of a U.S. strategy to exert pressure on Nicolás Maduro and his allies." But the piece also explains the broader context of narcotics operations in the region and Venezuela's place in trafficking. (Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights)
Senior U.S. officials said the mission was developed months ago and aimed at pressuring Maduro -- but the timing of the announcement was aimed at deflecting criticism of the Trump administration's handling of the Covid-19 crisis at home, reports Newsweek.
The game of geopolitical chicken regarding Venezuela can only be carried out by players who don't care about the victims, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Criminal violence has gone down in Venezuela since quarantines were introduced two weeks ago, but security force violence has increased, according to the Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia. In Zulia state, for example, there were 18 homicides in the early days of quarantine, 17 of which were committed by police who say victims were resisting arrest. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Homicides are drastically down in El Salvador, a side-effect of the country's lockdown, according to some experts. (Associated Press)
That being said, homicides have already gone down a lot since President Nayib Bukele took office last year, though it's not clear why and at what costs, writes Carlos Martínez in El Faro.
Mexico's homicide rate, on the other hand, has shot up in the past month, as authorities in the country pour resources into the Covid-19 response, reports the Guardian.
A major shootout between rival drug gangs, this weekend, killed 19 people in Mexico's Chihuahua state. (Associated Press)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the country will double down on social programs and deepen the government’s austerity campaign, rather than a huge economic stimulus program ahead of an expected economic crisis worsened by Covid-19. (Associated Press)
Guatemala has asked the U.S. to limit the number of people it puts on planes for deportation to 25, down from 60 to 90, due to coronavirus concerns. Two people had to be taken to hospital after they tested positive for coronavirus upon getting off a deportation flight. (BBC)
Authorities in Guayaquil are distributing thousands of cardboard coffins and have created a helpline for families who need corpses to be removed from their homes, after images of corpses on the city's street circulated the globe. (Guardian)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is politically isolated, but a recent poll found that most citizens do not want him to resign, despite severe discontent with his handling of the coronavirus crisis, reports Reuters.
About a hundred Bolsonaro supporters broke quarantine measures in São Paulo yesterday to protest lockdown policies. (EFE)
Haiti reported its first novel coronavirus death this weekend. (AFP)
Haiti's health system is woefully underprepared for the pandemic -- and private hospitals and non-profits say they’re being undermined by the Ministry of Public Health and Population, which is leading the national response to the pandemic, reports the Miami Herald.
Coronavirus has had a drastic chilling effect on protest movements around the world, including Chile, reports the Washington Post. But protesters have gotten creative, with signs hung from their balcony and cyberactivism.
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera sparked outrage by posing for pictures in Plaza Italia, the epicenter of anti-government protests that is now empty due to the country's coronavirus quarantine. (Reuters)
Guyana's Court of Appeal permitted the country's electoral authority to proceed with a recount of votes from the March 2 general elections, in a decision yesterday, reports Stabroek News.
The coronavirus pandemic added to public health woes in Honduras that include an overwhelmed public health system and a severe dengue outbreak, reports the latest Honduras Forum Switzerland Human Rights Monitor.
Honduran authorities ordered mayors to locate land suitable for mass graves as concerns over the possible coronavirus death toll mount, reports Reuters.
"Corona beer has become a temporary victim of the coronavirus." -- New York Times
Domestic violence has increased with Argentina's lockdown -- in March there were the same number of fatal Covid-19 cases as femicides, 27, writes Agustina Paz Frontera in Cohete a la Luna. A government gender violence hotline has received double the usual calls, since the country entered obligatory quarantine three weeks ago.
Sebastián López Brach y Maribel Ramos Barros explore the photographic opportunities of home quarantine in Rosario. -- New York Times Español.
I hope you're all staying safe and 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.