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LATAM Brief: Hurricane Ian devastates Cuba’s already-weak energy grid (September 28, 2022)

(Getty)

Hurricane Ian landed in Cuba yesterday, “bringing violent winds and flooding that affected infrastructure and devastated some of the country’s most important tobacco farms,” writes the Guardian. The storm, a Category 3 hurricane that has the potential to be upgraded to Category 4, devastated the country’s already-weak energy grid, causing the island’s 11.3 million residents to lose power. According to AP, power is set to slowly be restored this morning. Two casualties have been reported as a direct result of the hurricane’s impact, says the New York Times.   

Many of Cuba’s tobacco farms were hard-hit by the storm’s effects, causing damage to one of the country’s most important crops. The damage caused by Hurricane Ian is likely to exacerbate challenges due to the already-weak infrastructure and power grid, and, as the Guardian notes, “Blackouts and long-running shortages of food, medicine and fuel are likely to complicate efforts to recover from the storm.” According to NetBlocks, internet traffic on the island decreased to less than 50% of its normal levels, as the storm cut off avenues of communication.  

The hurricane is expected to hit the US state of Florida this afternoon. 

Argentina

  • 14 of the 19 crew members on the controversial flight from Venezuela to Argentina in June were cleared to leave the country, with the remaining five brought in for additional questioning, reports MercoPress. According to La Nación, the judge whose decision it was to clear the crew members had felt he was under pressure from La Plata’s federal chamber, which had ordered him to resolve the situation in 10 days.

  • A proposal to eliminate Argentina’s PASO (Open, Simultaneous, and Mandatory Primaries) elections received fierce repudiation from the Juntos por el Cambio opposition party, says Ámbito. Alberto Fernández has not declared a position on the matter, claiming “It’s an open debate and we need to see how it evolves.”  

Brazil

  • Estadão has discovered that between 2019 and 2022, the Bolsonaro administration has designated at least 65 cases of public information as secret/private information, rejecting requests for access to information. This includes lists of who has visited Michelle Bolsonaro in the presidential palace and the president’s vaccine history. 

  • The Amazonian state of Roraima is a Bolsonaro stronghold, but indigenous candidates are now running for office to halt the rampant illegal mining in the state, reports Al Jazeera. Despite two decades of being connected to the Venezuelan power grid, a project has now been approved to connect the state of the national Brazilian system, notes Poder360

  • “Despite being a matter of justice, abortion has not been treated as such in Brazilian presidential electoral cycles. Since the first democratic elections after the dictatorship in 1989, abortion has been, on the one hand, used as a tool for creating scandals and attacking candidates who have dared to speak about it as a health issue, as happened with former President Dilma Rousseff in 2010 and 2014… On the other hand, abortion has been ignored as a political issue, branded as a religious or moral matter, thus liberating candidates to have their personal opinion without committing themselves to it as a matter of public policy and indeed, justice,” writes Mariana Prandini Assis for Washington Brazil Office.

Chile

  • Ana Rodríguez writes at Chile Updates a summary of recent news in the country, including a new survey that finds that “50.3% prefer to initiate a new constituent process, while 33.1% point to reforming the current Constitution. 16.6% advocate maintaining the current Magna Carta and 46.9% consider the process should begin immediately.” 

Colombia

  • Colombian President Gustavo Petro spoke Monday in support of facilitating the recognition of titles for Venezuelan migrants in the country, reports El Tiempo

El Salvador

  • El Salvador’s state of emergency has facilitated corruption and “eliminated legal controls over administrative processes for the use of public funds and state contracts and the right of access to public information. In other words, it has fostered a lack of transparency and accountability in the management of public resources,” says WOLA

Mexico

  • Mexico’s congress is set to deliberate a proposal to make delivery workers and ride-hailing drivers formal employees, affecting an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 people, says Rest of World. Some gig workers are against the proposal, believing “that the government is primarily interested in higher tax collection and increasing membership dues for the official unions, without dealing with workers’ real concerns.” 

  • In an interview with Forbes, Vanda Felbab-Brown says, “Overall, I’d give López Obrador a “D” for his security policies. The Mexican government does not have a security strategy, particularly a law enforcement strategy; it has security passivity. The empowering of the Mexican military far more so than was done by his predecessors – the Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto administrations – does not equal a security strategy.” 

  • The head of the Special Unit for Investigation and Litigation for the Ayotzinapa case, Omar Gómez Trejo, resigned this weekend after reports that the Attorney General’s office did not act upon 21 of 83 apprehension orders for suspects tied to the forced disappearances of 43 students in 2014, reports Aristeguinoticias.  

Nicaragua

  • The vice rector of the Central American University (UCA), Jorge Huete, has been blocked from re-entering Nicaragua after a business trip to Argentina, reports Confidencial.

Peru

  • A candidate’s recent campaign advertisement for the Lima mayorship, “el muñeco de Daniel Urresti,” reflects the “shallowest instincts” for responses to
    insecurity, paralleling the torture and extra-judicial killings by state security forces during the 1980s and 90s, according to Jo-Marie Burt in La República

  • Peru depends on fertilizer from Ukraine and Russia, with harvests hammered and food prices rising. Half of the country is food insecure, reports NPR

Regional

  • The current strong US dollar puts pressure on Latin American countries’ politics and economics, writes James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report, explaining, “The weak local currencies do have a few benefits for exporting companies as well as those receiving remittances in dollars. But those benefits don’t outweigh the costs, particularly in an environment of slow growth or recession.” 

  • Last week, PAHO said that “Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Peru are at very high risk for the reintroduction of polio, as dwindling vaccination rates during the coronavirus pandemic has led to historic lows in protection against the illness. Regional vaccine coverage for polio has fallen to about 79%, the lowest since 1994,” reports Reuters

Arianna Kohan y Jordi Amaral / Latin America Daily Briefing
http://latinamericadailybriefing.blogspot

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