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Summit to focus on trade, migration
(June 1, 2022)
U.S. President Joe Biden will seek regional consensus on a new economic agenda to build on existing trade agreements with Latin America and present a plan to tackle increasing migration at next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, reports Reuters.
U.S. officials said Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a new partnership focused on climate change in the Caribbean, and the administration is preparing a new effort to bolster health care systems throughout the hemisphere, reports the Associated Press.
It remains unclear if Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will attend the summit, in objection to the exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.
The United States has said it only wanted leaders of governments that respect democracy to attend, and last week Biden's summit coordinator said Venezuela and Nicaragua would not be invited. He said a decision on Communist-ruled Cuba would be up to the White House. The summit starts on Monday, but the White House said it still doesn’t have a complete list of invitees. (Reuters)
While the host-country has the right to determine the guest list, U.S. parameters for inclusion have raised hackles. Several commentators have pointed to significant human rights issues in invited countries — such as killings of activists in Colombia and Mexico — as well as democratic threats — like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s coup-mongering ahead of October’s election. (See for example this opinion piece by John Kirk in Al Jazeera) Juan Gabriel Tokatlian also noted that democratic credentials have not, traditionally, been a consideration for inclusion in previous Summit of the Americas meetings. (Diario.ar)
A cyberattack on Costa Rica's hospitals and clinics yesterday forced the Costa Rican Social Security Fund to shut down its digital record-keeping system, affecting some 1,200 hospitals and clinics and potentially impacting care for thousands of patients. It’s the latest in a string of dozens of cyberattacks against the country’s government agencies, which have frozen some foreign trade and tax collection operations. (Reuters)
Colombia’s presidential elections on Sunday mark the 14th straight opposition victory in free and fair Latin American presidential elections, writes Oliver Stuenkel in the Brazilian Report.
While Colombia’s presidential runoff next month is likely to “signal the continuity of right-wing neoliberal rule with a repressive, authoritarian component,” writes Forrest Hylton in the London Review of Books, the current electoral cycle marks former president Álvaro Uribe’s eclipse as kingmaker. (See yesterday’s post.)
He also notes that “in light of the massive general strike in late 2019 and the popular uprising in mid-2021, however, as well as historic congressional victories for Petro’s coalition in March, the opposition to a Hernández government is likely to prove formidable.” (London Review of Books)
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is edging forward in a new poll ahead of October’s election. The survey published on Monday by Instituto FSB found that 46 percent of voters said they support Lula, giving him a double digit advantage over incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, whose support was unchanged from a month ago at 32 percent. (Al Jazeera)
Last week’s police raid in Rio de Janeiro’s Vila Cruzeiro favela left 23 people dead, and marked yet another escalation into a security campaign against the Red Command gang. But the heavy-handed police operative approach has done little for the city’s security, and may end up benefiting criminal militia groups instead, reports InSight Crime.
El Salvador’s opposition parties have been hard hit by President Nayib Bukele’s electoral victories, predicated on a strong anti-establishment discourse, and have failed to recalibrate. In the two years since Bukele assumed office, neither Arena nor the FMLN have undergone the kind of renovation necessary to position themselves as legitimate alternatives, writes Chase Harrison in Americas Quarterly.
Mexico’s government said it has agreed to review a labor complaint filed by the United States under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade pact. (Associated Press)
Hurricane Agatha caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 10 people and left 20 missing in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. (Associated Press)
A 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point: as of last December, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from “severe water scarcity.” The country’s 1981 water code, which enshrines one of the most privatized water systems in the world, has contributed significantly to the problem, reports the Guardian.
Chile’s government wants to exploit lithium more equitably — Chatham House explores the complexities.
Argentina’s return to Peronism in 2019 has not led to a rapprochement between Argentina and China as widely predicted — though Argentina has just joined the Belt and Road Initiative, almost none of China’s top priorities for the relationship have been accomplished under the Fernández administration, writes Patricio Giusto at the AULA blog.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is likely to see a rise in violent crimes, as gangs splinter and bounce back from the pandemic, according to island authorities. It appears that gangs are splintering and, in the process, becoming more vicious, reports InSight Crime.
Google Translate added Quechua to its platform. The addition of one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in the Americas could help public servants and health workers connect with their communities, reports the New York Times.