Raúl Castro steps down as Communist Party head

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA CUBA: Raúl Castro announced that he will step down as leader of the Communist Party of Cuba, bringing to end an over 60-year period where […] The post Raúl Castro steps down as Communist Party head appeared first on Latin America News Dispatch.

Raúl Castro steps down as Communist Party head

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA

CUBA: Raúl Castro announced that as leader of the Communist Party of Cuba, bringing to end an over 60-year period where a member of the Castro family held a leadership role in the country’s political system.

Castro made the announcement at the opening of the Party’s eighth congress on Friday.

The 89-year-old politician and held several high-level positions in the post-revolutionary state led by his older brother Fidel, including Minister of Defense, vice president and second secretary of the Communist Party. He took over as president after Fidel retired from that role in 2008, and as first secretary in 2011. Raúl passed the presidency on to Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018, but remained leader of the Party. Díaz-Canel is expected to succeed Raúl as first secretary as well.

 

At the congress, which the 60th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the Party a resolution “reaffirming the leading role of the Communist Party of Cuba” and another to “recognize and diversify different forms of property and management.” 

SOUTHERN CONE 

BRAZIL: The Supreme Court voted Wednesday 10-1 to approve into President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. Brazil’s death count surpassed 362,000 this week, making it the second-highest in the world. On Tuesday, the country’s daily death count peaked at over . Reports also emerged this week that a further threatens Brazil’s already overwhelmed health system. Throughout the pandemic, Bolsonaro has the situation and refused to impose restrictions like lockdowns to decrease the virus’ spread. As a result, his approval rates have plummeted. Also last week, former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” Da Silva announced that he is in 2022, if his candidacy is necessary to keep Bolsonaro from winning another term. 

CHILE: Chile announced Wednesday that it has vaccinated of the population, making it one of the countries with the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world. Over 7.5 million people have received their first dose, and 5.2 million have received both doses, out of a total population of about 19 million. Despite the success of its vaccination campaign, the country has been experiencing a worrying surge in COVID-19 cases recently, with and most of the population back in lockdown. Critics say that the surge is related to premature optimism over the early success of the vaccine campaign, which pushed the country . In December, the government relaxed travel restrictions and began allowing local and international tourism in time for the southern hemisphere summer holidays, even though most people had not yet been vaccinated. Health experts also believe that the variant of the coronavirus first detected in Brazil last November has contributed to the rise in cases. 

ANDES

BOLIVIA/VENEZUELA: Venezuela and Bolivia announced plans this week to acquire doses of the Soberana 02 COVID-19 vaccine produced by the Cuban government. The Bolivian government with Cuba to buy the jab, which is in phase 3 trials and will be ready this summer. Bolivia hopes to vaccinate its entire population by September, and is in discussion with multiple pharmaceutical companies around the world about purchasing doses. In Venezuela, a state laboratory in Caracas has been approved to Cuba’s Abdala COVID-19 vaccine, which is still in phase 2 trials. Cuban and Venezuelan officials inspected the plant together, but did not specify when production would begin or speculate about monthly production rates. 

 

VENEZUELA: The Venezuelan army announced this week that they have captured several members of the along the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The alleged cartel members were participating in the armed conflict that has ravaged the border between the countries over the last three weeks. The violence has Venezuelans, who were forced to seek refuge across the border in Colombia. Previously, Venezuela had avoided naming the armed groups involved in the conflict, which are presumed to include dissident members of the FARC who did not lay down their arms after the 2016 peace agreement. 

CARIBBEAN 

HAITI: President Jovenel Moïse announced that he had accepted last week, and that he had nominated to lead the government on an interim basis. In a, Moïse said that the reshuffling will allow the country “to address the growing problem of insecurity.” Jouthe had served as prime minister since March 2020. Claude Joseph is the sixth person to serve in the role under President Moïse.

CENTRAL AMERICA

HONDURAS: Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro and her husband former President Manuel Zelaya are of opposition candidates for the presidential election in November. Castro, who will represent the LIBRE party, hopes to bring together candidates Yani Rosental, of the Liberal Party, and Salvador Nasralla, of the opposition Salvador Honduras Party, to create a united front against Nasry “Tito” Asfura, of the ruling Nationalist Party. The candidates will meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of joining up.

Nasralla, who ran for president in 2017 in an election marred by fraud accusations, last week about the attempt to form a coalition, predicting that it will fail because Zelaya is a “poor interlocutor.”  

Meanwhile, three candidates who lost primary elections for opposition parties plan to form an alliance called “Los Honestos.”

HONDURAS/GUATEMALA/MEXICO: The United States government announced last week that it had with the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico for military and police action against migration. Under the agreements, the countries will station thousands more soldiers and police on their borders to stop illegal crossings. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, “the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more more difficult.”

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO/UNITED STATES: The United States Treasury included Mexico in a “monitoring list” of for possible currency manipulation in a report released on Friday. The noted that Mexico meets two of the three criteria to be declared a currency manipulator: a material account surplus of at least 2% of GDP, and a bilateral trade surplus with the United States of at least $20 billion. To be declared a currency manipulator, Mexico would also need to be shown to have made net purchases of foreign currency totaling at least 2% of GDP. Mexico is the only Latin American country.

MEXICO/UNITED STATES: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will propose to U.S. President Joe Biden that be extended to Central America as part of an aid package aimed at reducing emigration from the region when the two presidents meet on Thursday.

The Sembrando Vida program, which subsidizes small-scale agriculture and the planting of fruit and timber trees, was set up by López Obrador as a program, and has over 420,000 beneficiaries. In a video ahead of his meeting with Biden, López Obrador said that such a program could employ as many as 1.3 million people in Central America and southern Mexico. He also said that he will suggest to Biden that be given temporary work visas to the United States and a path to citizenship.

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Conservative Lasso Wins Ecuador Election

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA ECUADOR: Conservative businessman Guillermo Lasso beat out leftist Andrés Araúz in presidential elections on Sunday and will be the next president of Ecuador. With over […] The post Conservative Lasso Wins Ecuador Election appeared first on Latin America News Dispatch.

Conservative Lasso Wins Ecuador Election

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA

ECUADOR: Conservative businessman Guillermo Lasso beat out leftist Andrés Araúz in presidential elections on Sunday and will be the next president of Ecuador. having been counted, Lasso leads by almost five points. 

 Around 9 p.m. Sunday night, Araúz spoke to his supporters, conceding the election and.

Lasso, a native of Ecuador’s largest city Guayaquil, ran a pro-business campaign, promising to maintain Ecuador’s relationships with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States, which Araúz had said he would renegotiate. In contrast, Araúz to the leftist policies of President Rafael Correa, who ruled the country between 2007 and 2017.

 Lasso had previously run for president in 2013 and 2017, losing first to Correa and then to unpopular current President Lenin Moreno. Moreno, like Araúz, was a protégé of Correa, but the two clashed as Moreno began to reverse his predecessor’s leftist policies.

Almost 83% of eligible voters participated in the election. Voting is compulsory in Ecuador, and those who fail to show up to the polls without a valid excuse face $40 fines.

SOUTHERN CONE 

ARGENTINA: Buenos Aires on Wednesday to demand more stable working conditions. The Buenos Aires Container Terminal Service employs hundreds of workers, but its license to work in the port’s Terminal 5 recently ended, putting its workers’ jobs at risk. The strikers are demanding that with the end of the concession, either they be provided new jobs or their salaries continue to be paid, citing the circumstances as unjust. Next year, other companies’ concessions for the rest of the port’s terminals are due to threatening to leave even more port workers without jobs. Government officials have begun efforts to bargain with the workers. 

CHILE: Chile’s Senate voted last Monday to for a constituent assembly that will write the country’s new constitution, in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Chile’s current constitution was written in 1980 under military dictator Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet implemented a free market economic system, privatizing many public institutions, including education, healthcare and pensions. Last October, an increase in Santiago metro fare sparked large-scale protests that finally pushed the government to call a vote on whether the constitution should be rewritten. The referendum passed with . The upcoming election, in which voters will choose 155 representatives to , had previously been scheduled for April 10. 

ANDES

PERU: Peruvians went to the polls Sunday in the first round of elections to choose the country’s next president. Leftist union leader Pedro Castillo came in first place, but on Monday morning it was still not clear who will be the runner-up to face Castillo in a June runoff. A put Castillo at 18.6%, followed by conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, at 14.5%. But Peru’s election authority that said a count of 42.93% of ballots put conservative economist Hernando de Soto in second place, with Fujimori dropping to fourth place.

Late on Sunday, Fujimori released a statement offering to collaborate with de Soto to defeat Castillo in the runoff, no matter which one of the two conservatives makes it to the second round.

The election brought out 74% of Peruvians, for whom voting is compulsory. Of the almost 9 million ballots cast, 15% were either spoiled or blank.

CARIBBEAN 

HAITI: The Haitian government of around 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 from the COVAX program of the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the Dominican news agency Efe, Haiti’s government rejected the vaccine about its safety. However, Haiti does not have the refrigeration capabilities necessary to receive the Pfizer vaccine, while it could receive the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots. So far, has arrived in Haiti. But the country’s population of around 11 million has not been seriously affected by COVID-19, with only 12,840 cases and 252 deaths.

CUBA: Former President Raúl Castro will step down from his role as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba at. The 89-year-old Castro has led the party since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2011, and remained first secretary after stepping down as president in 2018 in favor of Miguel Díaz-Canel. The change comes months after Cuba passed a major monetary reform that unified the country’s two currencies, which will likely cause hardship for Cubans. It also follows by the San Isidro Movement (MSI) against the government.

CENTRAL AMERICA

EL SALVADOR: President Nayib Bukele with a U.S. envoy last week in apparent retaliation for perceived slights by Biden officials and Democratic politicians. U.S. special envoy for the Northern Triangle Ricardo Zúñiga on Thursday, his last stop on a Central America trip during which he met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammettei. But in spite of requesting a meeting, Zúñiga was unable to speak with President Bukele during his visit. The special envoy did meet with Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco and other government and private-sector officials. According to the Associated Press, is related to characterizing the Salvadoran president’s governing style as undemocratic.

HONDURAS: The Honduran government U.S. aid aimed at reducing migration to repair damage caused by two major hurricanes last year. A Honduran delegation with the administration of President Joe Biden, which has set aside $4 billion for aid to Central America, the origin of most of the tens of thousands of migrants being arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border over the last several months. Hurricanes Eta and Iota, Category 4 and 5 storms, respectively, killed almost a hundred Hondurans last November and of damage. According to the Honduran government, 95% of Hondurans that have been driving the recent increase in migration are from parts of the country hit by the storms. U.S. officials have not made any specific aid promises.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: Mexico is preparing for a steady increase in the number of migrants traveling through the country in the coming years, according to a statement by on Thursday. Ebrard said that the United States will need to spend $2 billion a year on developing the Northern Triangle countries in order to significantly decrease the amount of out-migration.

The number of migrants running into U.S. Border Patrol near the southern border has continued to rise, with 168,195 encounters in March.

MEXICO: Mexico’s vaccine rollout has been, with states across the country reporting long wait times and unclear instructions for those older 60 who are looking to get vaccinated. In Jalisco, there were reports of people waiting as long as 60 hours, while in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, the opening of a drive-through vaccination site led to a 5-kilometer line of cars.

 In Mexico City, police announced that were arrested after leaving a vaccination site in the borough of Coyoacán for disguising themselves as seniors to get the jab. One of the men was identified as a professional esports player, and the other as a brand manager for EA Sports Latin America.

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