Ecuador could be a warning to region (April 3, 2020)
The Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil has become a grim warning of how coronavirus can overwhelm services: macabre scenes of corpses languishing in family homes or on streets, overflowing morgues, patients piling up outside of hospitals, and rumors that feed panic in the midst of strict quarantine measures. (Guardian, Miami Herald, AFP, CBS)
All of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have cases of the novel coronavirus, and many countries are reporting community transmission, according to the Pan American Health Organization. (Miami Herald)
The AFP tallied more than 20,000 Covid-19 cases registered in Latin America and the Caribbean by Wednesday -- double the figure from five days ago.
"The unsanitary, overcrowded prisons and juvenile detention centers in most Latin American and Caribbean countries offer prime conditions for outbreaks of COVID-19 that could severely affect the health of detainees and of the population at large," according to a new Human Rights Watch report.
Income inequality makes domestic workers more prevalent in Latin America than in other parts of the world -- the ILO estimated that there were 18 million in the region in 2018, and 90 percent of them are women, reports Reuters. Many are informally employed, and find themselves without job security in the midst of quarantine measures.
The world-wide coronavirus crisis has left migrants and refugees particularly bereft, even as their importance in certain economies becomes clearer than ever, reports the Washington Post. In the U.S. agricultural workers, many undocumented migrants, have been declared essential during lockdown, and many health care workers hail from other countries.
In Colombia, Bogotá mayor Claudia López clashed with the national government, who she said was responsible for providing services to Venezuelan migrants during the coronavirus lockdown, arguing that the city lacks resources to do so. (Semana)
A Guatemalan migrant died during a riot at an immigration detention center in Mexico earlier this week. Detainees burned mattresses to protest conditions they say could expose them to coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.
The U.S. should suspend sanctions against Cuba, in order to help the country combat Covid-19, but also in support for its medical humanitarian work, writes Peter Kornbluh in The Nation.
The Lima Group applauded the U.S. proposal for a negotiated transition in Venezuela, reports Reuters. (See Wednesday's post.)
But the proposal merely rehashes failed negotiating strategies, raising the question "of why the State Department’s initiative has appeared at a time when both the United States and Venezuela are under severe threat from the covid-19 pandemic," writes the Washington Post editorial board.
Two members of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's team were arrested yesterday by military intelligence officers, according to Guaidó's office. (AFP)
Venezuelan journalist Darvinson Rojas was released after two weeks of detention in retaliation for his Covid-19 reporting. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is determined to keep the Covid-19 world villain crown. Bolsonaro's coronavirus response "trespasses most identifiable moral boundaries," writes Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker.
He has continued to lash out at state measures to limit coronavirus contagion. Yesterday, he mocked a measure banning Rio de Janeiro state residents from the beaches, implemented by right wing governor Wilson Witzel, as dictatorial, reports the Guardian. In response to the president's ongoing refusal to back social distancing measures, leftist politician Ciro Gomes called for “an extensive campaign of civil disobedience initiated by governors, mayors, the overwhelming majority of religious leaders and the media."
Bolsonaro's dismissive attitude seems insane, but is calculated to minimize economic impact in Brazil with an eye on re-election in 2022, writes Eliane Brum in the Guardian. "But the president’s survival chances are diminishing. Many requests have been lodged for his impeachment, and opposition leaders signed a letter calling for his resignation. Even among the staunchest conservatives, a consensus is emerging that he must be isolated."
Indeed, he is increasingly politically isolated even from ideological allies. A cordial Twitter exchange about quarantine measures between leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and São Paulo governor João Doria -- historically fierce adversaries -- is telling, reports Folha de S. Paulo.
Bolsonaro had a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump, earlier this week. They reportedly discussed medical and logistical cooperation but avoided talking about quarantines. (Reuters)
Coronavirus has weakened Brazil's Amazon protections ahead of the fire season, reports the Guardian.
A member of a protected tribe in the Amazon, and supporter of land defenders, was killed by gunmen this week, the fifth such assassination in six months, reports the BBC.
The first two cases of the coronavirus were confirmed among Colombia’s indigenous people, earlier this week. (Reuters)
Peru introduced restrictions to public movement by gender, part of a tightening of coronavirus measures: Men can only leave home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; women can do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, no-one is allowed out. (BBC)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pushed businesses to keep paying workers during the coronavirus crisis, reports Reuters.
Mexico's economy is forecast to contract by as much as 3.9 percent this year, according to the government. (Reuters)
The International Monetary Fund approved a disbursement of $143 million to Honduras to help the country fund increased healthcare and social spending in response the coronavirus pandemic. The funds would come from an IMF arrangement approved in July 2019 for a total of $312 million. (Reuters)
Twitter took down thousands of accounts linked to Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia, yesterday, for either taking directions from the governments or promoting pro-government content. Twitter said it removed the accounts because they violated its policies and were a targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation. The company removed 3,104 fake accounts created from a single IP range in Honduras by a staffer on the government’s behalf to retweet the president’s account, reports Reuters.
Guyana's electoral authority will meet today to determine how to continue in the gridlocked vote recount that has afflicted the country since the March 2 general election, reports Stabroek News.
New York Times Español launched a new series: Postales del coronavirus, aimed at collectively documenting these uncertain times.
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.