15 July: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.
Lithium miners operating in Argentina have created an industry group that aims to boost the development of new projects and enable a transparent setting of prices for the battery metal on international markets. The association, named Calbafina, has set as a first goal to create a lithium carbonate index to track and publish the price of the light metal, which is key to the development of electric vehicles, according to news portal Mining.com. The index would list lithium prices per ton in US dollars. Calbafina also intends to help companies obtain financing and strike deals with governments and local institutions leading to improved lithium exploration, production and sales. Argentina is part of South America’s “lithium triangle,” which includes neighboring Chile and Bolivia, and which is home to more than 60% of the world’s annual lithium production.
Demonstrators decrying Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic called for his impeachment on Tuesday. Protesters including members of trade unions, indigenous people and LGBT activists placed crosses representing victims of the pandemic outside Brazil’s congress in the capital, Brasilia, and delivered a petition to Congress, according to media reports. Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for downplaying the impact of the pandemic, and tested positive for the virus in early July. Brazil’s death toll from Covid-19 currently stands at 74,133, with more than 1.93 million confirmed cases.
Violent protests have taken place in Chile against the approval of a law to allow the anticipated withdrawal of pension funds. The protests, which took place in the capital Santiago and several other cities, were convoked on social media following the approval of the law allowing up to 10% of contributors’ pensions to be withdrawn, turned violent, with the looting of shops and the burning of vehicles, resulting in the detention of more than 60 protesters, according to media reports. Chile had been rocked by violent protests against the rising cost of living earlier in the year, but which were quelled by the lockdown following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Sixty-six percent of companies in Ecuador are considering restructuring their salaries over the next three years, according to a study by Deloitte. The study, which surveyed 184 companies, reveals that companies will need to restructure and lower their expenditure as a means of responding to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many companies’ payrolls represent around 70% of their overheads, for which salary cuts will imply a significant saving of costs, according to the report, while some companies will seek to peg salaries to employee performance.
Mexico and the US will maintain their mutual border closed to non-essential traffic until August 21st, extending the closure for a further month given the increasing spread of the Covid-19 virus. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announced the extension of the closure for a further month via Twitter on Tuesday, adding that the move had been the initiative of the Mexican government. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had said on July 10th that “it would not be prudent” to reopen the border to non-essential traffic due to the number of Covid-19 cases in the southern states of the US.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has ordered the imposition of stricter quarantine measures in the capital Caracas and the neighboring state of Miranda in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19. Maduro used Twitter to announce the measures and blamed the increase in cases on “illegal immigrants” into Venezuela. Caracas and Miranda have seen the largest increase in infections among the 303 new cases reported overnight Tuesday. The country has been in lockdown since March 16th, but Maduro had anticipated lifting those measures this week, he said.