UNITED STATES-VENEZUELA: The Trump administration announced that it is willing to lift sanctions against Venezuela if President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó step aside and agree to a transitional government. The “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela,” presented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, proposes a five-person governing council and a new election cycle, which would be open to campaigns by both Maduro and Guaidó.
Pompeo asserted that the framework would not “support any specific political party,” but would “provide a path that ends the suffering and opens the path to a brighter future.”
Guaidó proposed a similar plan this weekend, as U.S. sanctions threatened to complicate the country’s response to the spread of the coronavirus. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has called on Washington to ease its harsh sanctions in light of the global pandemic. Maduro has already sought emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund to supplement the country’s medical needs, but was denied. Venezuela has confirmed 135 cases of the Coronavirus and three deaths.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
ARGENTINA: The Health Ministry started offering psychological assistance to the elderly during quarantine, through a new program that pairs isolated individuals with licensed therapists over the phone. The national director of Mental Health and Addiction, Héctor Hugo Barrionuevo, said that the psychological assistance would continue until the policy ends. Barrionuevo said that the government considered loneliness “a serious issue” among those who are quarantined. The Ministry of Health has also gathered volunteers to call people and conduct welfare checks during quarantine. Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández announced on Sunday that people should stay at home until after Easter, extending the previously established period of isolation in the country.
BRAZIL: President Jair Bolsonaro mis-quoted the General Director of the World Health Organization (WHO). The president said that Tedros Adhanom had claimed that self-employed and informal workers have to work during the pandemic. Bolsonaro also omitted Adnahom’s recommendation that governments provide assistance to those unable to work during isolation. The WHO previously asked people to stay at home in order to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Bolsonaro, however, has not acknowledged official recommendations and urged citizens to continue going to work.
People without regular incomes or any financial cushion deserve social policies that ensure dignity and enable them to comply with #COVID19 public health measures advised by national health authorities and @WHO. #coronavirus
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 31, 2020
Adhanom responded to Bolsonaro on Twitter, saying that “people without regular incomes or any financial cushion deserve social policies that ensure dignity.”
BOLIVIA: Former president Evo Morales called for the evacuation of Bolivian citizens in Chile, accusing the country’s acting government of not doing enough to repatriate Bolivians. Morales took to Twitter to criticize the actions of interim President Jeanine Áñez, calling them “inhumane and illegal.”
Pido que se repatríen a nuestros compatriotas que están en Chile. Es inhumano e ilegal dejar a niñas/os, mujeres embarazadas y personas de la tercera edad en esas condiciones. Es un deber irrenunciable del Estado el velar por sus ciudadanos en cualquier lugar del mundo.
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) March 30, 2020
Áñez has already repatriated citizens residing in Europe and Israel. Morales also asked Áñez’s administration to work alongside Chinese and Cuban officials to bring more resources and medical supplies into Bolivia. Chile has 2,738 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, while Bolivia has only confirmed 107 cases with 6 deaths.
HAITI: The Haitian government has allowed seven factories to reopen in order to produce protective medical equipment for the United States and Haiti. The factories reopened after the Superior Group of Companies, a U.S.- based uniform and branding company, sent a letter to Haitian officials. Haitian authorities agreed, provided that Haiti is allowed to keep one million of the manufactured masks.
COSTA RICA: In an interview with The Guardian, President Carlos Alvarado committed to protecting indigenous environmental activists, a month after two were murdered. Alvarado promised to preserve indigenous rights while also compensating non-indigenous peoples who have lived on those lands. He said that the government has not always had the economic ability to enforce a 1977 law that designated certain lands as indigenous territories. Forest Peoples Programme attorney Vanessa Jiménez questioned Alvarado’s commitment to indigenous peoples, referencing historical government neglect of Native communities.
PANAMA: President Laurentino Cortizo tweeted new coronavirus quarantine policies based on gender. Cortizo wrote that beginning today, women will be allowed outside Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
A partir del 1 de abril, mujeres circularán lunes, miércoles y viernes, y hombres martes, jueves y sábados. Los domingos todos deberán permanecer en sus casas. Se utiliza el mismo horario con el último número de cédula y se mantienen excepciones establecidas en el Decreto 507.
— Nito Cortizo (@NitoCortizo) March 31, 2020
MEXICO: Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell announced that the prohibition of non-essential activities will continue for the month of April. Mexico City plans to close 90% of businesses leaving only health, food and other essential services open. The shutdown also prohibits gatherings of over 50 people. Mexico has 1,215 confirmed cases and 29 deaths due to coronavirus as of Tuesday night.
MEXICO: Journalist María Elena Ferral was shot in Veracruz on Monday evening and died of her injuries. Two assassins on a motorcycle ambushed the mother of two and her brother in the city of Papantla. In 2016, Ferral had denounced death threats and singled out politician Camerino Basilio Picazo Pérez. Ferral worked for 20 years with Diario de Xalapa covering forced disappearances, and was also the director of the Quinto Poder website. Mexico is one of the deadliest places for journalists in the world with over 100 killed in the last two decades.