LatAm Daily Briefing: Buenos Aires Tightens Lockdown; Mexico City Police Chief Survives Ambush; Peru to Pay Electricity Subsidy

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

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

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires will extend and tighten a lockdown in the city and its metropolitan area following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, President Alberto Fernández said on Friday. Overall cases in the country have risen five-fold since late May, hitting over 50,000 on Thursday when there were 2,606 new confirmed daily cases. The death toll currently stands at over 1,150. Fernández said restrictions on movement in Buenos Aires that had previously eased would be tightened again next week due to the rise in infections. Lockdown measures were initially imposed on March 20th and has been extended until June 28th, but Fernández said the new measures in Buenos Aires would last until July 17th.

The Brazilian city of São Paulo has passed the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic, according to Municipal Health Secretary Edson Aparecido, with the number of hospitalization requests having fallen, he was quoted by local radio as saying. The city’s Mayor Bruno Covas announced on Friday that bars and restaurants would reopen from Monday June 29th, as the city moves from ‘red’ to ‘yellow’ alert, local media reported. The country’s death toll from the virus currently stands at 55,304, with more than 1.24 million confirmed cases. President Jair Bolsonaro, who was so far shown a blasé attitude toward the virus and on more than one occasion called for the economy to reopen, and was this week called on by the supreme to start wearing a mask, court  said on Thursday that he believes he has already had Covid-19, despite having tested negative multiple times.

The value of Chile’s fresh fruit exports fell by 17% to the end of May, totaling $2.98 billion, while the volume of exports fell by 8% over the same five-month period in comparison with the same period last year, according to the country’s statistics agency Odepa. Grapes accounted for one-third of export volumes during the period, totaling $917 million, which was a 25% drop on the same period last year, while the export volume of cherries, the country’s second-largest fruit export, fell by 15% to $867 million, despite a 6% rise in export volumes. Chile’s fresh fruit exports totaled 1.5 million tons to the end of May. The country also saw a decline in value of its salmon exports, which dropped by 13% to May.

Colombia’s President Iván Duque has appointed a new energy minister, Diego Mesa Puyo, who replaces María Fernanda Suárez, who resigned earlier this week due to personal and family reasons. Mesa had been Suárez’s vice minister since 2018, and is an economist specializing in energy policy, having worked at the IMF and PriceWaterhouseCooper. Mesa will continue the government’s policy of clean energy transition initiated by Suárez, which has seen Colombia add 1.5GW of renewable energy capacity to its grid, according to S&P Global. "His two years accompanying minister Maria Fernanda Suarez allow for continuity of the very important agenda that we have drawn up," President Duque said.

Mexico City’s police chief Omar García Harfuch has survived an assassination attempt when his vehicle was attacked by armed gunman as he traveled to work in the city on Friday morning. Three people were killed in the attack, two of them García’s bodyguards, as well as a female passerby who was on her way to work. García was injured by gunfire and is reportedly in a stable condition in hospital. He has blamed the attack on the Jalisco Nueva Generación drug cartel. Twelve people were detained at the scene, according to media reports. The attack is the latest in what has been a bloody week, even by Mexican standards, with 15 people killed in a massacre in the southern state of Oaxaca, allegedly the result of a conflict among townspeople, and 16 deaths in a gun battle allegedly between rival drug gangs in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Peru’s Women’s Minister Gloria Montenegro has announced the payment of a subsidy to cover electricity bills from March to date, and which is expected to benefit some 24 million people. The backdated payments are intended to cover consumers’ higher-than-usual utility bills due to them being quarantined at home since March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Montenegro posted on Twitter that the subsidy will total S/160 ($45) per household to cover electricity costs, and which will cost the government S/800 million ($226.6 million). Peru’s lockdown was imposed on March 16th and is currently scheduled to run until June 30th, making it one of the world’s longest. The death toll from the virus in the country is the second-highest in South America after Brazil, and currently stands at 8,939.


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