Duque Spends Peace Fund on PR Campaign

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA COLOMBIA: President Iván Duque signed a $844,000 public relations contract using money from the president’s Peace Fund, according to a report by Semana News. The Peace […] The post Duque Spends Peace Fund on PR Campaign appeared first on Latin America News Dispatch.

Duque Spends Peace Fund on PR Campaign

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

COLOMBIA: President Iván Duque signed a $844,000 public relations contract using money from the president’s Peace Fund, according to a . The Peace Fund was established in 1997 to “finance peace programs aimed at the reincorporation into civilian life of groups raised in arms.”

The investigation found that the President’s office entered a contract with the marketing firm Du Brands SAS to manage “digital strategy, social networks and content” as part of the “definition and implementation of the image strategy and online positioning of the Presidency.”

Director of Communications for the Presidency, Hassan Nassar, said that the Peace Fund exists for expenses of the president that “have to do with peace” and that “the messaging communication of this administration has always had its foundation in stability and peace.”

The existence of the contract was revealed following reporting over the weekend that the military has journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition leaders. Yesterday, the Truth Commission, a mechanism of the country’s transitional justice system, the Defense Ministry release all information relating to the illegal army surveillance. The army has the spying.

Headlines from the western hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

CHILE: Health Secretary Paula Daza announced yesterday that coronavirus cases have passed 20,000. As of Monday evening, Chile had of coronavirus and 270 fatalities caused by COVID-19. According to Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, the number of hospitalizations and deaths has plateaued, but could take a turn for the worst as winter approaches the southern hemisphere.

ANDES

VENEZUELA: The government announced yesterday that eight “terrorist mercenaries” were killed and two U.S. citizens arrested in a failed coup attempt on Sunday. Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau claimed responsibility for the attempted invasion. The Venezuelan government did not identify the captured Americans, but Goudreau identified them as Luke Denman and Aaron Berry. Goudreau alleged that he signed an agreement with opposition leader Juan Guaidó to launch an amphibious assault with 60 combatants to depose President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó denies the accusations.

CARIBBEAN

HAITI: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Nations rights monitors are their own organization for not properly handling cholera. In a letter addressed to the Secretary-General António Guterres, 13 top UN officials urged the entity to do more, calling its actions so far as “” and “illusory” to the Haitian people. The authors of the letter said that the cholera epidemic has killed more than 10,000 people in Haiti, while the UN has spent only $3.2 million from the $400 million initially pledged. In 2016, the entity its peacekeepers were the source of the outbreak in the Caribbean nation. 

CENTRAL AMERICA

GUATEMALA: Migrants who were living in the United States and were later sent back to Guatemala are facing , as locals accuse them of bringing the coronavirus to cities and that haven’t yet registered cases of COVID-19. Authorities say 100 Guatemalans deported in the last months have COVID-19. To prevent further stigma, the expected to arrive this week will deplane with medical certifications stating they tested negative for the virus while staying at detention centers in the U.S. Even so, the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Guatemala said health authorities will examine the migrants and may hold them for up to four days in observation. 

NICARAGUA: The European Council decided to add six Nicaraguan high officials to the EU restrictive measures list, stating that “no tangible advances have been made on democracy and human rights in Nicaragua.” The officials will now be banned from traveling and any assets they may have in European countries will be frozen. The six officials report directly to President Daniel Ortega, and were accused of human rights violations. , Francisco Díaz, is the chief of Nicaragua’s National Police, and has already faced by the U.S. and Canada. 

NORTH AMERICA

REGION: Migrants are being abandoned in desolate, resource-scarce areas of Mexico as governments scramble to close borders and ports, according to a report published yesterday by the . One woman detailed her experience, as she was expelled from the U.S. to Mexico, where she was then dumped at the Guatemalan border by Mexican authorities. She said she was forced to sleep in the woods and told to go around the heavily-patrolled border by crossing through the mountains. 10,000 people are estimated to have been expelled from the U.S. since mid March.  

REGION: The National Football League announced yesterday that it will . The league had originally scheduled a game at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. But the league moved the game, as well as four other games spread across two facilities in the U.K., back to the U.S. amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The games are now slated to be held at the home teams’ facilities. 

UNITED STATES: The U.S. 9th Circuit ruled yesterday that a Trump administration order requiring immigrants to prove that they can afford health insurance or pay out-of-pocket medical expenses will not take effect while the court case is heard. The lawsuit, filed by the Latino Network, argued that the policy would cause family separation. The ruling upheld a previous temporary injunction challenged by the federal government. The case will proceed with the injunction in place.

 

The newsletter image is of Colombian president Iván Duque courtesy of Inter-American Dialogue via

 

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Workers Protest as Baja California Prepares to Reopen Factories

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA MEXICO: Maquiladoras in Baja California will reopen today, after the state government decided to reclassify manufacturers as “essential,” requiring tens of thousands of employees to return […] The post Workers Protest as Baja California Prepares to Reopen Factories appeared first on Latin America News Dispatch.

Workers Protest as Baja California Prepares to Reopen Factories

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

MEXICO: Maquiladoras in Baja California will , after the state government decided to reclassify manufacturers as “essential,” requiring tens of thousands of employees to return to work. Workers in factories that have been operating have reported failures to provide personal protection equipment and implement distancing guidelines, despite companies’ insistence that they are taking precautions. 

Amid global demonstrations on International Workers Day Friday, protesters objected to the decision. One sign read, “Bonilla: in Baja California, workers are not disposable,” referring to Baja California governor Jaime Bonilla.

In a video conference, the state’s Secretary of the Economy said authorities had reevaluated some services that they now consider essential; televisions, for example, are important to the telecommunications industry. reported that Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota would restart Mexican manufacturing this week. The federal government allows governors to decide what businesses are essential, while U.S. companies and government officials have to reopen factories along the border. Manufacturing across North America is intertwined, so production for the Pentagon as well as the healthcare industry have faltered in the shutdown. 

The pandemic has put pressure on supply chains created by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Labor activists say the  pandemic has also cast a new light on the exploitation of workers in Mexico, where low wages have attracted U.S. manufacturers.

Headlines from the western hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

BRAZIL: As the confirmed coronavirus case count surpasses , the Amazonas city of Manaus is experiencing . The city serves the Amazon’s indigenous communities, but has no paved roads connecting it with supplies from outside the region. The national funeral home association has for coffins to be airlifted into the city from São Paulo. The Amazonas region currently has 6,683 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 548 COVID-19 fatalities. The real number of cases is likely higher. 

REGIONAL: Prison riots broke out in Venezuela on Friday and Brazil on Saturday in response to growing fears of coronavirus transmission. A riot on Friday at the in Guanare, Venezuela left 40 people dead and more than 50 injured. Inmates began protesting for permission for their relatives to bring food to the prison. A day later, inmates at the in Manaus, Brazil held seven guards hostage for five hours in protest of a policy that had ended all family visits in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ANDES

COLOMBIA: Following an investigation published in , Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on Friday that 11 military officials would be removed from their posts. A brigadier general also asked to resign. On Friday, Semana updated its coverage of military spying on journalists, known as the Carpetas Secretas, with the names of victims and details of the data collected on them. The military has monitored more than 100 journalists and human rights activists, illegally collecting personal information. The scandal came as leaders and journalists from around the globe commemorated World Press Freedom day yesterday. 

VENEZUELA: The Associated Press published an on Friday into a failed attempt to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. Based on interviews with more than 30 opposition members and freedom fighters, the AP found no evidence of U.S. government involvement in the plan, but identified Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as one of the rebellion’s leaders. Although the Maduro administration suppressed the uprising, the AP traced planning for the revolt back to April 30, 2019 when soldiers prepared to swear loyalty to opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

CARIBBEAN

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Even after four salary increases in the span of eight years, the minimum wage is . Since 2011 the minimum wage rose from 7,000 to 13,000 Dominican Pesos, or roughly $130 to $240, with wages increasing every two years. But the minimum required to support a family is at least 14,000 Dominican Pesos, about $260, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. The study, as reported by Listin Diario, predicts that the next salary increase will take the minimum wage above the minimum cost of living.

CENTRAL AMERICA

EL SALVADOR: President Nayib Bukele warned on Sunday that the health system is after 42 cases were registered this weekend, an increase of nearly 10 percent. The President’s announcement came as a surprise, since he had previously said that the country had capacity for at least 11,200 patients. As of yesterday evening there were 490 total cases. Eleven people have died and the La Prensa Grafica reported that the government has detained 2,394 people for not following quarantine regulations.

NICARAGUA: The country is experiencing its since the 1980s, according to British analysts in the Economic Intelligence Unit. The EIU’s latest report predicts the country’s economy may contract as much as 6.5 percent, with a nine percent increase in unemployment. The report attributes the downturn to the coronavirus, and estimates that it will take until 2022 for Nicaragua to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. 

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) began COVID-19 patients to their Mexico City facilities. The decision came after the country’s total number of cases exceeded 20,000. As of yesterday, there were 22,088 confirmed cases in Mexico, and 2,061 deaths. Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum of Mexico City, which has the highest concentration of cases, said she hopes the move will ease the burden on other city hospitals that are turning patients away. The city has filled of its hospital capacity, but are the major concern. 

MEXICO: Families in Ecatepec on their sick loved ones or the delivery of their bodies after videos posted on social media showed several body bags in the hospital. To prevent the spread of the virus, the hospital prohibited visits, leaving many in the dark about their family members’ conditions. Mexican authorities said in a statement they would work on improving communication and expediting the return of bodies to families.

 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

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