LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina’s Debt Talks Deadline Arrives; Brazilian Malls Reopen; Colombia Imposes Curfews

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

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

Argentina today reaches its deadline with its creditors to broker a deal on how to move forward with repayments on its $65 billion sovereign debt, after having defaulted on payments on May 22nd. President Alberto Fernández had said in recent days that it would not rule out further extending the deadline, perhaps for a further 10 days. Bondholders are reportedly reluctant to restructure the country’s debt yet again, but will have little choice but to accept the government’s offer, given the country’s ongoing recession, which has been exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the continuing depreciation of its currency.

Shopping malls have reopened in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, despite the country’s spiraling Covid-19 cases as Brazil remains by far the worst-hit country by the virus in Latin America. Stores in the country’s two largest cities were limited to 20% capacity, with shoppers required to wear masks and strict personal distancing measures were imposed. Stores in Rio were opened one week earlier than planned, a move to recoup lost income during the lockdown. The retail sector has reportedly lost around $5 billion in revenues since the start of the quarantine. Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll currently stands at 41,058, which is close to surpassing that of the UK, with more than 806,000 confirmed cases.

Workers at Chile’s state-owned copper producer Codelco have threatened to walk out at some of its facilities amid fears that safety concerns about Covid-19 infection are being ignored as the company seeks to return to full production. Workers with the Federation of Copper Workers said there had been an alarming spike in coronavirus cases at some mines, a week after a miner at the company’s Chuquicamata mine died from Covid-19. “This is a general warning, in case the administration does not take the measures,” Liliana Ugarte, head of the Chuquicamata 2 union, told Reuters. “The lives of our people are more important than any production targets.” Chile is the world’s top copper producer, with output totaling 5.6 million tons in 2019.

Colombia’s capital Bogotá has declared an orange alert and the port city of Barranquilla decreed a curfew on Thursday as an increase in Covid-19 cases puts a serious strain on the cities’ healthcare systems. Bogotá mayor Claudia Lopez said she would announce additional measures with Health Minister Fernando Ruiz on Monday after the city of seven million people was left with less than 300 available intensive care units. Barranquilla mayor Jaime Pumarejo and Atlántico department governor Elsa Noguera announced the implementation of a curfews between 8pm and 5am on weekdays, and a lockdown from 2pm on Saturday until 5am on Tuesday in an effort to stem the spread of the virus, the death toll from which is currently 1,488, with more than 45,000 confirmed cases.

Mexico will likely emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic in October, according to the country’s spokesman for the crisis, under secretary of preventive health, Hugo López-Gatell. The country is expected to enter its critical phase of contagion from the virus next week, a prediction that may be received with skepticism among the population, with the government having announced last month that contagion would peak in May. The country began a partial reopening of its economy on June 1st, with industries deemed as essential returning to work, while many manufacturing plants, particularly those supplying the US or operated by US companies, opened a week earlier. The country’s death toll from the virus currently stands at 15,944, with more than 134,000 confirmed cases.

Peru’s government has reported the deaths of at least 170 police officers from Covid-19, while almost 10,000 are infected with the virus, Interior Minister General Gaston Rodriguez was quoted by local media as saying. The contagion is the result of police officers enforcing the country’s quarantine measures, as some 80,000 officers provide security and enforce movement restrictions in the country, which is the second worst-hit in South America after Brazil. The death toll from Covid-19 in Peru is currently 6,109, with the total number of confirmed cases at more than 215,000.


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