What You Should Know
- Haiti: Amidst months of political unrest and violence, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7. Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph closed the country’s borders and declared a “state of siege”.
- Nicaragua: Six more opposition leaders were arrested by the police under “treason” laws. In recent weeks, Daniel Ortega’s government has arrested at least 27 opposition figures.
- Inequality: The World Bank warns that low skilled workers in the region might be negatively impacted by the pandemic for the next decade.
- Hurricane season: The first hurricane of the season, Elsa, caused damage in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
- Vaccine donations: In the last two weeks, the US announced it will donate nearly 12 million vaccines to the region. More below.
By the numbers
- Vaccinations per capita (vaccines administered per 100 people): Chile (124) #4 worldwide, Uruguay (120) #7 worldwide, Dominican Republic (77) #38 worldwide, Cuba (59) #49 worldwide, Barbados (58) #50 worldwide, Brazil (51) #56 worldwide, Argentina (51) #57 worldwide, Costa Rica (48) #59 worldwide, El Salvador (46) #63 worldwide, Guyana (45) #64 worldwide, Colombia (39) #69 worldwide, Source: nytimes.com
Health + Innovation
- Vaccine passport: On July 1, the European Union launched digital COVID-19 vaccination cards. Only four vaccines qualify for the certificate: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
- Donations: Over the past two weeks, the United States has announced several vaccine donations to the region.
- Bolivia: Nearly 16 percent of its population is now immunized, and COVID-19 vaccines are being offered to anyone over 18 years or older. Bolivia is experiencing a decline in new cases and deaths, and will receive 6 million Sinopharm doses in August, nearly 1 million Sputnik V vaccine doses through September, and 1 million Johnson and Johnson vaccines through the COVAX facility.
- Variants: Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne has stated that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against variants of concern.
- Cuba: PAHO asked Cuba to publish trial data on their national vaccines and to request their approval for COVAX.
- Mexico: Nearly half of the contestants in the Miss Mexico pageant have been diagnosed with COVID-19. On July 6, the country reported nearly 8,000 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest jump in new daily infections since February.
- Highest per capita death rate: Peru continues to have the highest per capita death rate in the world. The Lambda variant, first detected in Peru, has now spread to 27 countries.
- 1 million+: From June 28 to July 4, Latin America and the Caribbean reported1 million new COVID-19 cases and 30,000 deaths.
Economies in Focus
- A handful of emerging-market currencies have held onto gains with respect to the US dollar in the first half of 2021. However, the list may shrink in the coming weeks as the highly contagious delta variant hits countries with low vaccination rates.
- Brazil’s real hit a two-week low and extended losses to a fifth straight session on growing concerns over corruption.
- 7 million formal companies–of which 99 percent are micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)–have closed in the region since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which represents the loss of at least 8.5 million jobs, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
- Argentina’s Association of Automotive Factories (Adefa), reported that production of motor vehicles grew 14.5 percent compared to May’s output, representing a 156 percent year-on-year increase.
- On July 5, the Chilean government introduced a $2 billion fund to strengthen the national health network and fight the pandemic. The Extraordinary Health Fund aims to purchase more PPE, implement a rehab plan for COVID-19 patients, increase testing, purchase more vaccines, and strengthen the mental healthcare capacity.
- Brazil’s M&A volume grew eightfold in the first half of 2021 compared to 2020, to $56.8 billion, while share offerings totaled $15.3 billion, up 55 percent.
- IHS Markit’s Brazil services Purchasing Mangers’ Index (PMI) showed an increase from 48.3 to 53.9 in May, the fastest expansion since January 2013. A PMI reading above 50.0 indicates expansion, and a reading below shows contraction. Brazil’s PMI results indicate that the region’s largest economy is set for solid growth in the second half of 2021. According to survey participants, the increase stemmed from the easing of some pandemic-related restrictions, vaccine progress, and new business growth.
- As part of it economic reactivation and recovery plan, Colombia–South America’s largest coal producer–is seeking to expand and bolster coal mining output.
- On July 1, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly approved, in a first debate, a $1.8 billion loan from the IMF. Should the project pass in a second vote scheduled for July 12, the loan will be used to support Costa Rica’s recovery and stabilize its economy.
Multilateral Analysis & Support
- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) agreed to lend up to $20 million to Agrofértil, a Paraguayan company that provides credit, crop insurance, and agronomic services to small and medium-sized farmers. The loan will support farming and gender equality amid COVID-19 downturn.
- The head of the IMF warned of a “dangerous divergence” between wealthy and developing countries in their paths to COVID-19 recovery. WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed similar concerns, warning of a “K-shaped recovery” in regions like Latin America that have lower vaccination rates and slow growth.
Social Transformations: The Nexus of Technology and Corruption
- The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Microsoft announced the implementation of an early warning system to help countries combat corruption, increase transparency and promote integrity throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The “red flags” project aims to integrate analytical tools and elements of artificial intelligence to help governments identify risks of fraud and corruption in public procurement.
- Paraguay’s National Anticorruption Secretariat (SENAC) has helped promote the red flag system while its National Directorate of Public Procurement (DNCP) and other Paraguayan government actors, have also participated in the initiative and provided technical leadership.