9 July: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.
Argentina posted a new record in daily cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, with 3,604, the first time the daily tally has surpassed 3,000, in a sign that the virus is continuing to spread. The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now 87,030, which represents a five-fold rise since the beginning of June, while the death toll stands at 1,694, which remains well below those of other South American countries. Argentina remains in partial lockdown, with restrictions having been re-imposed in the capital Buenos Aires in June due to a spike in reported cases. The lockdown has had a serious effect on the country’s economy with economists forecasting a 12% contraction for this year.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has vetoed parts of a law that guaranteed assistance to indigenous communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. The law made provisions for the providing of water, disinfectant and hospital beds to communities during the pandemic. Bolsonaro argued that the law was unconstitutional and created expenses for the federal government without sources of revenue to cover them, Reuters reported. Brazil’s indigenous population of around 850,000 people is vulnerable to Covid-19 given their remote locations and lack of access to medical facilities. The Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil has so far caused 68,055 deaths, with more than 1.72 million confirmed cases.
LATAM Airlines has reportedly secured an additional $1.3 billion in financing to help it restructure and face its financial crisis as a result of the drop in demand for flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic. LATAM, which is Latin America’s largest airline and is based out of Chile, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US in May. The financing package is from private equity fund Oaktree Capital Management and follows an earlier package of $900 million from a group of investors that included Qatar Airways. The airline said that, as a result of the financing secured, it will no longer need to seek a bailout from any of the region’s governments.
Restaurants are to reopen in 900 Colombian municipalities, provided they observe sanitary measures, the country’s trade minister Juan Manuel Restrepo has announced. The number of municipalities accounts for 82% of the total across the country. The reopening of restaurants will only take place in municipalities with no cases, or very few cases, of Covid-19. President Iván Duque had announced on Wednesday that the country’s quarantine measures would be extended by two weeks, until August 1st. Colombia is the fifth worst-hit country in South America, with the death toll currently at 4,527, with more than 129,000 confirmed cases.
Ecuador’s foreign minister José Valencia has resigned, the third member of President Lenin Moreno’s cabinet to resign this week. Valencia cited personal reasons for his resignation, saying in a virtual press conference that his work was done at the foreign ministry. His resignation follows that of Communications Secretary General Gustavo Isch, and of the Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner, neither of whom gave reasons for their departures from government. Valencia said that his resignation was not connected to that of the vice president. Valencia’s tenure was marked by the ending of political asylum for Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who had been granted asylum in the country’s embassy in London in 2012 by former President Rafael Correa. Assange is currently in prison awaiting trial for extradition to the US.
The former governor of Mexico’s Chihuahua state, César Duarte, has been arrested in the US state of Florida, following the issue of an international detention order. Duarte faces charges of embezzlement and money laundering in Mexico during his tenure as governor of the northern state, Mexico’s largest, from 2012-16, as a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party of former President Enrique Peña Nieto. Duarte is accused of setting up shell companies for the embezzlement of state funds. Mexico has requested his extradition to face charges.