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Latin America #1

  • Colombia coal fight
  • Brazil’s governors
  • Peru and populism
  • Asia eyes Mexico
Published every Friday

Undark

In a fight over a Colombian coal mine, COVID-19 raises the stakes

Luz Ángela Uriana’s voice trembled as she described the Covid-19 situation in her region. “We are really scared,” she said in a phone call. “There are many cases in our neighboring town.” Worried in particular about her son, who has lung issues, she added that she and others “want Cerrejón to stop activities while this illness is around. And the people working in the mine come from elsewhere, that is a risk too. Cerrejón is not protecting us.”

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Editor’s Note:

This piece combines a lot of angles. Environment, the indigenous community in Colombia, and the role of pollution in COVID cases just to name a few. Lise Josefsen Hermann digs into all of it for Undark.

Brazilian Report

Besides the pandemic, Brazilian governors face multiple crises

Brazil’s 27 sitting governors, among them newcomers and second-termers, took office on January 1, 2019, to what they knew would be a challenging four-year stint in office. The country’s financial conditions had worsened, while spending on wages and pensions increasingly hobbled state finances from north to south. However, no one was prepared for just how tough 2020 has been. The Covid-19 pandemic hit state administrations in different forms, putting job security on the line for many governors. Tax revenues fell sharply. The state of São Paulo, Brazil’s wealthiest, reported a 10-percent drop in tax collection from its ICMS goods and services tax, the main source of revenue for states.

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CNN

Latin America is battling one disaster as a mammoth recession looms

Even as coronavirus cases soar in Latin America, another calamity looms: Sharply contracting economies, unsustainable debt and deepening inequality could unleash social turmoil in the region.

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The Telegraph (UK) ($)

Risk coronavirus or go hungry: an impossible choice faced by Colombia’s indigenous communities

‘I have to go out to work. If I don’t, this pandemic won’t kill us, hunger will’

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Associated Press

Brazil virus payout cuts extreme poverty to least in decades

Brazils extreme poverty has plunged due to a monthly federal handout during the coronavirus pandemic, but threatens to bounce back once the government ceases the stopgap welfare program, a report said Tuesday.

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Editor’s Note:

Aid from the government has impacted the economic situation of many people around the world, not least in Latin America where there have been persistent issues of inequality. This piece from Brazil looks at money given to the informal sector and micro businesses.

The Economist ($)

Peru is heading towards a dangerous new populism

Unless the government can check the pandemic and revive the economy

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BBC

Fires in world’s largest tropical wetlands ‘triple’

The number of forest fires in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands, has tripled in 2020 compared to last year, according to Brazil’s national space agency Inpe.

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The Guardian

A dollar for sex: Venezuela’s women tricked and trafficked

The family had nothing at home, says mother of six Luisa Hernández, 30, from Zulia state, Venezuela. “To see your children grow up without food, without anything, is unbearable.

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South China Morning Post

Mexico eyes investment from Asia after new North American trade deal

International firms based in Asia may consider relocating supply chains to Latin America after the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement launched.

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Editor’s Note:

Part of what this newsletter will cover is Latin America, but also Latin American countries relationship with the rest of the world. Here Raquel Carvalho writes about ties to Asia amid a new trade deal with the US.

Bloomberg

Latin America Eyes Pension Billions as an Alternative to Welfare

Colombia is the latest Latin American country considering a plan to let workers to tap private pension savings, a move intended to soften the slump in consumer spending but which risks worsening some of the world’s deepest stock market slumps.

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