Brazil should integrate gov't responses to pandemic -- WHO (June 30, 2020)
Brazil registered 692 new coronavirus deaths yesterday, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 58,314. The country still faces a “big challenge” to curb the coronavirus pandemic and should do more to integrate its efforts at different levels of government, according to the head of the WHO emergencies program. (Reuters)
This weekend Brazil announced a deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to get up to 100 million doses of a promising coronavirus vaccine. The company clarified later that the deal is not actually closed yet, it's a letter of intent. The vaccine started testing in more than 5,000 Brazilians of the health care sector last week. (Associated Press)
Separately, Brazil's São Paulo state expects this week to receive federal regulator approval to trial a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac, reports AFP.
Dozens of indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon’s Javari Valley have contracted Covid-19, a major threat to isolated and recently contacted indigenous groups in the area, reports Reuters.
The pandemic has pushed into remote rural areas in Brazil, which provide a challenge for health care workers to access patients, reports Al Jazeera.
Support for democracy among Brazilians rose to a record 75 percent this month, according to a new Datafolha poll. (Folha de S. Paulo)
Brazil’s unemployment rate rose to its highest in two years, 12.9 percent. (Reuters)
Brazil's return to profesional soccer is controversial: The Rio de Janeiro state championship restarted on Sunday, but the Botafogo team took the field with a banner protesting the decision, reports Reuters.
Brazil -- in the throws of a political, economic and health crisis -- is deciding who will build its 5G telecommunications network. China’s Huawei is pitted against American-backed rivals, led by Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia. The choice will have "a profound and long-term impact on the country’s geopolitical role in the 21st century," writes Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly.
Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is expected to win the Dominican Republic's presidential election on Sunday. Recent polls indicate he might win outright, if he obtains over 50 percent of the vote, or could head to a run-off election later in July. The ruling PLD party is split between two candidates, which has strengthened Abinader's hand, according to the Latin America Risk Report. Irregularities in municipal elections earlier this year led to widespread protests, and James Bosworth said there is a high likelihood of protests after this vote "especially if citizens detect attempts to delay or manipulate the vote counting process. If Abinader doesn’t win a plurality or if he falls just short of a majority after a lengthy and delayed vote count, citizens will take to the streets."
Honduras' new criminal code -- that reduces penalties for corruption -- is set to worsen the country's already crushing graft issues, reports InSight Crime. (See last Friday's post.)
Covid-19 has already seeped into Central American prisons -- already among the most overcrowded, dangerous and unhealthy in the world. "A massive outbreak of Covid-19 in prisons could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences," warns International Crisis Group analyst Tiziano Breda in today's Latin America Advisor.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's plan to visit Washington next week has made his quirk of flying commercial a public health concern, reports the Washington Post.
Venezuela's Maduro government ordered the European Union's ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours, reports the BBC.
Argentina's economy has plunged during the coronavirus quarantine. Data from April shows a 17.5 percent drop in economic activity from the prior month, and 26.4 percent decrease from a year ago, reports Bloomberg.
Argentina's debt restructuring talks with international creditors are stalled, reports Reuters.
Beyond specific country responses to the global pandemic, Brazil and Argentina are hobbled by their "subordinate place in the global financial system, a subordination that is threatening to turn today’s shock into a protracted crisis," writes Nicolás Aguila in Jacobin Magazine.
From Argentina to Mexico, nearly one in five of Latin America’s urban population lives in crowded slums, reports Reuters. The poor, densely-packed neighborhoods make following basic hygiene guidelines to prevent coronavirus impossible. And the combination of informal labor and insufficient government welfare means, many people cannot afford to quarantine - even when they are ill.
"Covid-19 may become another of those “poor-country diseases” that kills hundreds of thousands in a regular year. Think malaria or TB, but more infectious and thus requiring more rigorous social distancing," writes Adam Tooze in a Guardian comment piece.
"Quarantines have proven crucial and effective in countering the health threat posed by coronavirus, but they have left victims of gender violence trapped under the same roof with their abusers," writes Brenda Werth at the Aula Blog. "One unintended effect of quarantine is the reinforcement of the perception of domestic abuse as a private, family affair, separate from the public sphere, and excluded from the jurisdiction of the state."
Black Lives Matter
Latin America is ripe for a reckoning with the oft-overlooked systemic racism that goes hand in hand with police brutality, writes Bruno Carvalho in a New York Times op-ed.
Brazil's military dictatorship had a long-term impact on the country's police force, which "35 years later, is breaking records of police lethality, taking the lives of mostly young, black and poor Brazilians," writes Fernanda Mena in Folha de S. Paulo.
A research team is trying to turn millions of tons of floating Sargassum seaweed into fertilizer -- Guardian.