What You Should Know
- Copa America: 52 cases of COVID-19 have been detected among players, staff, and workers in four Copa America teams: Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia. The tournament is taking place in Brazil until July 10.
- Chile: Although the country has vaccinated 58 percent of its population, infection rates continue to rise, reaching record levels.
- Nicaragua: Twenty-seven countries approved an Organization of American States resolution condemning the arrest of presidential candidates and restrictions imposed on political parties, and calling for the immediate release of political prisoners in Nicaragua.
By the numbers
- Vaccinations per capita (vaccines administered per 100 people): Chile (108) #7 worldwide, Uruguay (95) #12 worldwide, Dominican Republic (58) #43 worldwide, Barbados (52) #46 worldwide, Guyana (38) #57 worldwide, Costa Rica (38) #58 worldwide, Brazil (37) #59 worldwide, Argentina (36) #60 worldwide, El Salvador (36) #62 worldwide, Cuba (32) #65 worldwide, Panama (27) #67 worldwide, Source: nytimes.com
Health + Innovation
- G7: At the summit, world leaders pledged to supply one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for lower-income countries.
- Mexico: The country shipped 400,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay. The doses were manufactured in Argentina and packaged in Mexico as part of a joint agreement to distribute 250 million doses to the region.
- Peru: Amid a nine-week decrease in cases, authorities confirmed the first case of the B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India.
- Trinidad and Tobago: With cases declining, the government will soon reopen borders and lift travel restrictions after 14 months. It also announced an order of 800,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines to ramp up vaccination efforts.
- Honduras: More than half of the country’s 460,200 vaccine doses administered took place in the past two weeks.
- Colombia: President Ivan Duque received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on June 13.
- Costa Rica: The country has administered more than 2 million doses, only behind Chile, the United States, Uruguay, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Guyana in doses per capita in the Americas.
Economies in Focus
- Peru’s currency recovered early losses on June 15 after strong economic data offset uncertainty over the country’s most recent presidential election. The Peruvian economy grew by 58.5 percent in April, driven by a rebound in key mining and fishing sectors.
- The Brazilian central bank’s IBC-Br economic activity index, a leading indicator of gross domestic product, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.44 percent in April. By this measure, economic activity in Brazil is a fraction higher than it was pre-pandemic in February 2020.
- Panama’s trade and industry ministry (MICI) is advancing plans for a new national mining policy and overhaul of institutions. With these plans, the Central American country hopes to strengthen mining institutions and promote growth and job creation in the sector as it looks to rebound from COVID-19.
- Brazil’s Minister of Economy said that the government will extend pandemic emergency aid by three months to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected. Accordingly, pandemic aid will be extended until October, at the same amounts–between $29.76 and $74.40–and covering some 39.1 million Brazilians.
- Data from Oxford’s Global Recovery Observatory shows that Latin America is investing too little in a green economic recovery from the pandemic, with only 2 percent of the region’s stimulus funds being spent on projects to help fight climate change compared to the global average of 19 percent.
- On June 14, USAID pledged to grant $115 million in cooperation aid to El Salvador to slow migration to the United States. The money will include $50 million for security, $35 million for programs to counter violence against women and $30 million for job training. In addition, USAID also said it would contribute $12 million for small and medium-sized businesses in the Northern Triangle countries that were affected by pandemic-induced lockdowns.
- On the ten-year anniversary of the adoption of the Domestic Workers’ Convention, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reaffirmed that domestic workers globally have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, losing more jobs and working hours than other sectors. According to the UN labor agency, the number of domestic workers in Q2 2020 had fallen by 25 to 50 percent in most Latin American and Caribbean countries.
- A new ECLAC-ILO joint publication warns that labor markets in the region will be slow to recover from the severe impact of COVID-19 in 2020. The report, Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, notes that in order to reduce high unemployment rates seen during the pandemic, significant efforts will be needed on employment policies and regulatory frameworks aimed at the most vulnerable groups.
- International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) research conducted in nine countries, including El Salvador and Peru, shows that COVID-19 has increased poverty and unemployment for many migrants and their families; the institutions argue that empowering migrants is key to COVID-19 recovery.
Social Transformations: El Salvador Approves Bitcoin as Legal Tender
- On June 9, President Nayib Bukele announced that El Salvador would make bitcoin legal tender – the first country in the world to do so.
- With sixty-four out of eighty-four possible votes, President Bukele’s party supermajority succeeded in passing this proposal through the legislature, set to take effect in ninety days despite concerns on the impact of El Salvador’s program with the IMF.
- Bitcoin, in theory, offers a quick and cheap way to send remittances without relying on traditional and often costly channels. While El Salvador sees bitcoin as a useful way for citizens overseas to send money across borders, major remittance firms are cautious about offering cryptocurrency services.