8 July: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described Argentina’s latest debt offer to its creditors as “an important step” in the country’s economic restructuring process. The IMF said it hopes that all parties involved will work towards reaching an agreement in a timely fashion. Argentina’s new offer to creditors is seen as having a good chance of anchoring one of the largest sovereign debt restructurings, and which could result in an orderly and collaborative resolution to the country’s long-standing economic challenges, and which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent shuttering of the country’s economic activities.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19. The president, 65, said he had canceled all engagements for this week, and that his meetings would take place via video. Bolsonaro had longed played down the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the fact that Brazil is now the second-worst hit country after the US, with a death toll that has so far reached 66,887, with more than 1.67 million confirmed cases. Bolsonaro had been berated for not wearing a face mask in public, but had claimed that, if he were to contract the virus, he would survive, given his athletic physique and good physical condition and health.
Chile has surpassed 300,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, but the infection rate is beginning to fall, according to health minister Enrique París. París said the government is now beginning to design a plan to move toward a loosening of the country’s lockdown measures, which were tightened in June following a renewed surge in cases after some retail outlets were allowed to reopen in the country. “There will be no measures that put at risk the good news so far,” however, París was quoted by CNN Chile as saying, as the country has now recorded 23 days without the number of new daily cases surpassing those of the previous day. Chile’s death toll currently stands at 6,434.
Colombia has extended its quarantine measures until August 1st, President Iván Duque said in a televised address on Tuesday night. The country’s lockdown had been due to be lifted on July 15th, but amid the continued rise in cases in some areas of the country, the quarantine measures will stay in place, Duque said. However, some businesses have begun to reopen and municipalities with low infection rates, or no new infections reported, will allow restaurants, theaters and gyms to reopen as long as they impose strict protocols, such as the wearing of masks and adequate personal distancing. Colombia’s death toll from the virus currently stands at 4,359, with more than 124,000 confirmed cases.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s is in Washington to meet with President Donald Trump, a meeting that “is vital so that the USMCA [the new free trade agreement between Mexico, the US and Canada] contributes to Mexico reaching higher levels of inclusive growth and social development,” according to private sector body the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial. López Obrador’s visit has been criticized in Mexico as a show of support for Trump, and risky during the time of Covid-19, particularly given that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declined the invitation. López Obrador will spend three days in Washington, meeting with Trump on Wednesday, after which they will issue a joint statement. The trip is López Obrador’s first outside of Mexico since taking office in December 2018.
The economy committee of Peru’s congress has approved an initiative to freeze bank debts, a proposal that has been criticized by banks as putting the stability of financial institutions at risk. The proposal, which must now be debated by congress as a whole, would prohibit banks from imposing further charges on account holders’ existing debts that have been incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the freeze would be applicable for 90 days after the legislation comes into effect. During that period banks would only be allowed to charge the interest on account holders’ debts.