Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández said on Wednesday that the government will offer an improved debt restructuring proposal to its creditors, but warned that the government’s negotiating team would not jeopardize the country's future in striking a deal. "It's clear that Argentina must find an agreement with the creditors,” he said. The country is in ongoing talks with bondholders to restructure its $65 billion debt, having defaulted on interest payments in late May. The deadline for the conclusion of negotiations on how the country will proceed with its payment obligations is June 12th, but Fernández did not rule out requesting a further deadline extension if necessary.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced he will revive the country’s Communications Ministry, which was closed during the previous federal administration’s term in 2016. The new ministry will be headed by Fabio Faria, of the Social Democratic Party, who is an ally of Bolsonaro, and a son-in-law of billionaire television presenter Silvio Santos, who also owns Brazil’s third-largest TV network, according to media reports. The new ministry will also be in charge of the process to privatize the state-run radio and television broadcasting company EBC, which Bolsonaro said would be more efficient as a private entity. Until now Bolsonaro has used social media to convey his messages, but admitted on Wednesday that such a strategy had not been effective.
Chile is to extend full quarantine measures to more areas for a further week. Health Minister Jaime Mañalich on Wednesday announced the government’s decision to add new communes to the total quarantine following an additional 190 deaths from Covid-19 overnight. Mañalich said the area of Pozo Almonte will be added to those areas under quarantine, in addition to Peñaflor and its urban area, Melilla, Curavaví, San José de Maipo and Til Til. Outside of the capital Santiago, the communes of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso will also come under total quarantine, with the measure to take effect on June 12th and last until June 19th. Chile had reintroduced strict quarantine measures after a partial reopening of the economy in May, including shopping malls, resulted in a surge in infections.
Colombia may begin to allow pensioners to make withdrawals on their pensions during the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Withdrawals from obligatory pension savings are not currently permitted, but Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla said on Wednesday that the regulations could be eased to allow partial withdrawals to help elderly Colombians navigate the economic crisis. “We haven’t made a decision yet, but there have been meetings within the finance ministry and we have spoken with pension and severance funds,” Carrasquilla was quoted by media as saying.
Mexico’s industrial activity recorded a 29.6% year-on-year contraction in April, the sharpest drop on record, surpassing the slump in 2008-9 and in 1995, and which had until now had produced the country’s worst results in the productive sector, according to the country’s statistics institute INEGI. The contraction was 25.1% compared with March. Construction and manufacturing were the worst-hit sectors, affected by the stoppages imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a 38.4% and 35.6% year-on-year shrinkage in output respectively. Mining saw a 3.6% drop in production.
The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have brought a boost to Peru’s ginger exports, which increased by 168% during the first quarter of 2020. According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur), sales to Spain and the Netherlands increased by 529% and 255% respectively. Peru currently exports ginger to 18 countries, which is a 25% increase on the total number of countries importing the plant from Peru in 2019, with 71 Peruvian companies engaged in ginger exports. Peru’s total ginger exports in 2019 were 23,400 tons, the ministry said. Ginger is well known as an antioxidant and is believed to strengthen the immune system, which perhaps accounts for its increased popularity during the pandemic.