U.S. battle against Central American corruption (June 2, 2021)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Costa Rica yesterday, and was due to meet with foreign ministers from the member countries of the Central American Integration System: Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. (AFP)
The trip aims to put into practice U.S. President Joe Biden's desire to tackle issues driving migrant arrivals to the southern border of the United States, said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. But he will be facing a tough crowd: U.S. relations with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, in particular, are badly strained, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The three Northern Triangle countries are the targeted recipients of the U.S.'s $4 billion commitment to help address the “root causes” of migration. But the Biden administration has sought to funnel funding around the countries' governments, due to significant governance concerns. Northern Triangle countries' leadership has pushed back against U.S. criticism, reports the Washington Post.
The U.S. focus on battling entrenched corruption in Central America could backfire in a region increasingly willing to defy Washington and turn to China for backup, warns Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly. "What many see taking shape is an adversarial, and possibly counterproductive, dynamic between Washington and the region’s governments," he writes.
"Many of the region’s political and business elites have gone into a defensive crouch, vowing in private not to work with the U.S. at all; everyday Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans seem more focused on recovering from the pandemic and reducing violence than comparatively ethereal issues like transparency."
Even as Covid starts to feel over in the U.S. it's worse than ever in many parts of the world, including several Latin American countries. One of the main reasons for this is the global gap in vaccinations, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.
"Inequitable vaccine distribution is leaving millions of people vulnerable to the virus while allowing deadly variants to emerge and ricochet back across the world," write the heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization in a Washington Post opinion piece outlining a plan to accelerate vaccine distribution and expand production capacity.
Speaking yesterday from Costa Rica, Blinken said that the United States would soon distribute millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines around the world, including in Latin America. But the question on the minds of many — which countries will receive doses first and how quickly will they be delivered — remained unanswered, notes the Washington Post.
Preliminary results from an experiment in which most adults in a Brazilian town were vaccinated against coronavirus with a Chinese vaccine suggest the pandemic can be controlled if three-quarters of the population is fully vaccinated with Sinovac. The experiment has transformed Serrano into an oasis of near normalcy in a country where many communities continue to suffer, reports the Associated Press.
Cuba’s bet on vaccine sovereignty may be coming at a lethal price as coronavirus deaths on the island mount, reports the Miami Herald. Cuba is rushing to get ahead of the virus, as it needs to jump-start its economy and revive tourism, a key source of revenue for the embattled island that’s struggling during its worst crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union.
U.S. President Joe Biden's inaction towards Cuba is aggravating the island's food crisis, argues William LeoGrande in Common Dreams. U.S. support for human rights in Cuba should include alleviating the food crisis by ending Trump's prohibition on remittances and restoring the right of U.S. residents to travel, he writes.
Mexican voters will head to the polls on June 6 to cast their ballots in what has been called the largest election in the nation’s history, reports Al Jazeera. The midterm election will decide the makeup of the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress. Also up for grabs are more than 2,100 mayor and city councillor positions, along with 30 state legislator seats and 15 governorships.
At least 34 candidates have been murdered since campaigning started two months ago, part of a wave of electoral violence, as organised crime seeks to cement its influence no matter which parties win. (See yesterday's briefs.) The government needs to keep trying to break bonds between criminals and authorities, beginning with efforts tailored to the country’s hardest-hit areas, according to a new International Crisis Group report.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's decision to host the upcoming Copa América soccer tournament provoked immediate outcry in a country steaming into a potentially calamitous third wave of Covid-19 infections, reports the Guardian. Yesterday a Brazilian Supreme Court judge ordered Bolsonaro to submit information about the government’s decision to host the tournament. (See yesterday's briefs.)
The move comes as a congressional inquiry has uncovered dammening details of the president's handling of the pandemic, pushing calls for impeachment. (See Monday's briefs.) Most of the blame for Brazil’s inept response to the COVID‑19 pandemic falls squarely on the shoulders of President Jair Bolsonaro, writes Ingrid Fontes at the AULA Blog.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said he will push for a long-languishing marriage equality bill to pass through Congress. The bill, if passed, would cement an increasingly progressive tack in Chile, reports Reuters. (See May 18's post.)
The Atlantic Hurricane season has started, and experts predict up to 18 named storms and at least three major hurricanes this year. The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology has divided the hurricane season into three parts: the first and second halves and the peak season, which spans sections of the halves. (iWitness News)
Mexico has accused the international fashion brands Zara, Anthropologie and Patowl of cultural appropriation, claiming they used patterns from indigenous groups in their designs without any benefit to the communities, reports the Guardian.
The Guardian tells the story of Brazilian musician José Mauro, "the reborn genius of bossa nova."
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