Vaccine diplomacy in Lat Am (Feb. 25, 2021)
COVAX shipped out it's first batch of vaccine doses -- which went to Ghana. (WHO)
Latin American countries are turning to China and Russia for coronavirus vaccines, pushed by scarcity of Western-developed jabs. The impact on regional relationships is likely to be significant, say experts. (Wall Street Journal)
For the first time in 15 years, China’s two biggest policy banks — the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China — made no new loans to the region in 2020, reports the Associated Press, based on a new report by the Inter-American Dialogue and Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center. On the other hand, Chinese medical diplomacy has been strong in Latin America during the pandemic: China donated more than $215 million in supplies and conducted clinical trials or plans to manufacture vaccines in five countries.
Israel is doling out batches of vaccines as a reward for allies, a whole new form of vaccine diplomacy. The number of doses donated is unknown, and is billed as "symbolic." Israeli media, citing diplomatic sources, said recipientes included Honduras and Guatemala, which have opened embassies in Jerusalem. (Washington Post)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Argentine counterpart, Alberto Fernández, declared an alliance against inequality in the region. (El País)
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández says that antinarcotics cooperation with the United States could “collapse” if U.S. authorities believe “false testimony” accusing him of cooperating with traffickers, reports the Associated Press. He spoke in the country's Congress, a day after a group of U.S. lawmakers proposed sanctions on Hernández and an investigation into allegations that he has collaborated with criminal organizations. (See yesterday's post.)
U.S. prosecutors accused Hernández used Honduran law enforcement and military officials to protect drug traffickers as part of a plan “to use drug trafficking to help assert power and control in Honduras.” Hernández has denied the allegations. (Reuters)
Legislative elections this Sunday in El Salvador could remake the country's landscape. President Nayib Bukele's New Ideas party could win a legislative majority, enabling the government to name justices to the Supreme Court, magistrates to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Attorney General, the prosecutor for the defense of human rights and others. "Essentially his party could replace his loudest critics," reports the Associated Press.
A Crisis Group analysis of social media suggests that exile can lead Venezuelan opposition members to use strident rhetoric and advocate aggressive ideas more often than domestic counterparts. It's relevant because success of internationally facilitated negotiations, if they happen, will rest on all parties’ willingness to accept compromise, according to a new report: "Conciliatory attitudes could be undermined not only by crackdowns in Venezuela but also by prominent exiles’ views."
Colombian police officers killed 86 people last year, according to Temblores, an non-governmental organization that monitors state violence, which reported “structural and systematic” abuses in the country's police force. The group also documented 7,992 cases of assault and 30 cases of sexual violence, with migrant communities and Afro-Colombians often the victims, reports the Guardian. “This violence isn’t just because of a few rotten apples, it’s part of the architecture of the Colombian state,” said Alejandro Lanz, the director of the group’s police violence observatory.
Nicaragua's government will inaugurate a maternity home in the newsroom confiscated from Confidencial. The announcement occurs days after they dismantled the offices and painted everything bright pink, the color used by Vice President Rosario Murillo’s FSLN propaganda. (Confidencial)
A candidate for Mexico's ruling Morena party in Guerrero state, Félix Salgado Macedonio, has been accused of sexual violence and rape by five women dating back as far as 1998. AMLO's defense of Salgado has pitted him against women's rights activists (again), reports the Guardian.
Mexico's lower house of Congress approved controversial reforms aimed at strengthening the state electricity company. Environmentalists warn the changes promote fossil fuels over renewable energy, reports AFP.
The U.S. is preparing for migration surges at the border with Mexico, even as the President Joe Biden struggles to balance the demands of supporters and opponents. Some of the new administration's migration moves, including expelling tens of thousands of migrants and restoring an unlicensed shelter for migrant children have infuriated supporters, reports the Washington Post. At the same time, Biden's attempts to implement a gentler immigration system could quickly provoke political backlash.
According to immigration advocates who track flights leaving the United States with deportees, since the beginning of February roughly 900 Haitians have been expelled. (Boston Globe)
Significant safety measures weren't enough to prevent a brazen kidnapping during a movie shoot in Port-au-Prince, in which two Dominicans and a Haitian translator were abducted. A case "that has taken Haiti’s kidnapping epidemic from being a Haitian affair, to an international one," writes Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald.
Luis Fernando Arias became the leading voice in a coalition of Indigenous peoples, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, motivated by violence inflicted on his family by paramilitaries. Coronavirus complications contributed to his death, reports the New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...