Brazil loses health minister, again (May 15, 2020)
Brazil lost its second health minister in a month, today. Nelson Teich resigned this morning adding to the country's coronavirus turmoil, reports Reuters. Local media report that he disagreed with President Jair Bolsonaro on the issue of hydroxychloroquine treatment for Covid-19 patients. (Bloomberg)
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting nearly 90,000 coronavirus deaths in Brazil through August. (U.S. News and World Report)
Brazil already has the highest Covid-19 death toll of an emerging market country, and the Amazon state of Manaus has been particularly hard hit -- raising fears of an existential threat to Amazon indigenous tribes, reports the Financial Times.
"Brazil’s failure to provide enough hospital beds for the surging number of critical coronavirus patients is yielding increasingly grim results across the country, but particularly in Manaus," reports the Washington Post.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he is considering releasing a video that sources say shows him explaining that he needs a friendly police chief in Rio de Janeiro to shield his family from investigations, reports Reuters. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Brazil and Mexico reported a record one-day increases in new coronavirus cases, yesterday, just as both countries seek to reopen their economies, reports Reuters.
Mexican authorities pushed back by two weeks the reopening of automotive plants and the mining sector after the coronavirus lockdown, reports Reuters. The sectors have been under pressure to reopen in order to permit supply chains in the U.S. and Canada to resume. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Maquiladoras in Mexico have been under significant pressure to work through the country's lockdown, despite Covid-19 risks for workers, reports the Guardian.
Bolivia's drawn out political limbo has collided with coronavirus quarantine, and it is not clear when Bolivians will be able to go to the polls to end the interim government led by Jeannine Áñez. Critics say she is using the pandemic to consolidate a questionable grip on power an attack opponents, but polls show wide support for a strict lockdown, reports the Economist.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Haiti has doubled over the past week, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health. (NPR)
The situation is likely to explode in coming weeks, say experts, pointing to Haitian workers returning from the Dominican Republic with the virus. The DR suspended the temporary legal status of more than 150,000 of those Haitian workers as part of its coronavirus response, and many undocumented workers also lost their jobs. By this month, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates, 22,000 Haitians were returning home each week, reports the Washington Post.
Venezuelan authorities said they have seized 39 military deserters trying to enter the country from Colombia. Authorities said they are linked to the failed armed incursion by sea early in the month that aimed to oust and kidnap President Nicolás Maduro. (Associated Press)
The Economist has a good summary of the twists and turns of Bay of Piglets, with its bizarre ancillary cast of characters.
The pandemic is creating fresh opportunities for organized crime in the world, as some activities -- like extortion -- are lowered, others -- like drug smuggling -- adapt, reports the Economist.
Among the criminal industries hard hit by coronavirus is international money laundering, reports InSight Crime.
Nicaragua has moved more than 2,800 prisoners to house arrest to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, none were political detainees. (Al Jazeera)
The handcuffed and tortured corpse of an alleged gang member -- returned to his family as a supposed Covid-19 victim -- raises concerns that security forces in El Salvador "could use the coronavirus to disguise their own misconduct at a time when they have carte blanche from the president to use deadly force," reports InSight Crime. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Residents in El Salvador's Tonacatepeque municipality have started hanging white flags outside their homes as a sign that they are running out of food during the lockdown imposed by the government 52 days ago, reports EFE.
The surge in unemployment caused by shutdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus has forced many poor Chileans to turn to neighborhood soup kitchens -- a situation that was last notable during the Pinochet dictatorship, reports EFE.
Thousands of fresh graves are being dug in Santiago's main cemetery as Covid-19 cases spike in Chile this week, reports AFP.
Colombia is increasing its military presence along the border with Brazil to head off the spread of new coronavirus cases as infections and deaths rise in Amazonas province. (Bloomberg)
Former Colombian colonel Gabriel de Jesus Rincon spoke to AFP about his role in extrajudicial killings -- the "false positives" killings of civilians passed off as guerrilla fighter combat deaths. (See yesterday's briefs.)
A Guatemalan judge rejected a petition by former president Otto Pérez Molina to be released into house arrest over fears of contracting the coronavirus in jail, where he is awaiting trial over a massive bribery scandal. The judge noted that Pérez Molina is detained in an army hospital where there is none of the overcrowding present in other prison facilities. (AFP)
The best response to the pandemic economic crisis is regional, writes Nicolás Albertoni in a New York Times Español op-ed that urges for a modernization of the Mercosur trade bloc.
Suriname heads to the polls May 25, parliamentary elections that are, in many ways, a referendum on President Desiré Delano “Desi” Bouterse, writes Scott B. MacDonald at Global Americans. "Whatever the outcome, the next government faces substantial challenges in dealing with corruption, the potential for a further deteriorated economy and getting caught in the crossfire of a deepening Cold War-like situation between China and the United States."
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.a
Latin America Daily Briefing