LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina Names New Energy Minister; Brazil Sees 9.4% GDP Slump in Q2; 13 Die in Peru Nightclub Stampede

24 August: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

24 August: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández has appointed Darío Martínez as the new energy minister, replacing Sergio Lanziani, who departs after just over eight months in office. Martínez is a politician from the country’s Neuquén Province, home to the Vaca Muerta shale formation. While Lanziani was considered an expert in nuclear matters, and had been in talks with China to build a fourth nuclear plant in Argentina, he had been increasingly marginalized after losing two subordinates, and Production Minister Matías Kulfas had been making decisions on the country’s energy policy, according to local media reports. Argentina’s oil and gas industry is currently suffering a slump amid the drop in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and state-owned oil and gas company YPF reportedly lost more than $1 billion in second quarter.

Brazil’s economy likely slumped 9.4% in second quarter as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Reuters poll. Economic activity began to stir again after President Jair Bolsonaro launched fiscal spending to deal with the aftermath of Covid-19, but optimism has been dented by fears this approach could derail his original austerity agenda. The latest GDP data, due for release on September 1st, will likely fuel a raging debate about the extent of a vast initiative that is quickly eroding the stance of Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. The soaring budget deficit has stoked concerns among economists, whose warnings are adding pressure on a government already facing criticism for its handling of a health crisis that has cost almost 115,000 lives.

Chile reported a further 64 fatalities from Covid-19 on Monday, bringing the total death toll to 10,916, and an additional 1,903 cases, which push the total to 399,568. Of the new cases, only 1,265 present symptoms of the virus, according to the Health Ministry, while a total of 372,464 people have recovered from the virus after testing positive. A total of 1,014 persons are currently in hospital intensive care units being treated for the virus, of which 742 are on ventilators, and of which 140 are in critical condition, the ministry said.

Three coal miners who had been trapped underground for five days in Colombia have been rescued. President Iván Duque confirmed the men’s rescue on Sunday night from the mine in Lenguazaque, in Cundinamarca department. The governor of Cundinamarca Nicolás García Bustos praised the rescue workers who were able to free the miners, who became trapped on August 20th after part of El Alisal mine collapsed. 

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry has announced it will receive funds from abroad for the development of a Covid-19 vaccine in the country. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón said on Monday that the financing will be channeled to scientists, pharmaceutical companies and Mexican universities to support the development of vaccines and treatments. The financing will come from donations non-profit organizations and the private sector, Ebrard was quoted by La Jornada newspaper as saying. Mexico’s death toll from Covid-19 has now surpassed 60,000, with more than 560,000 confirmed cases.

Thirteen people were killed in Lima on Saturday night during a stampede in a nightclub, as patrons tried to escape a police raid intended to shut down the clandestine event, which violated curfew regulations. Police were called by neighbors to close down the party, which was taking place on the second floor of a building in the Peruvian capital’s Los Olivos neighborhood. Partygoers were crushed or suffocated during the stampede through a narrow exit as they attempted to escape the police raid. Of the 23 people detained during the operation, 15 have tested positive for Covid-19, according to media reports


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