Welcome back to Foreign Policy's Latin America Brief.
This week's highlights: How Latin American countries do theirs Vaccination strategies In the midst of deadly COVAX delays, Washington opens Channels for climate negotiations with Brazilian governors and Favela funk at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
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It's the world of big pharma
Last week, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez spoke with unusual frankness about the problems facing the world's only multilateral mechanism for the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, COVAX. "COVAX didn't work," he said of the initiative jointly run by the World Health Organization (WHO) and two non-profit organizations.
Last October, Paraguay made its first payment for an order for 4.3 million doses of vaccine from COVAX, which aimed to sell countries better than deals directly with manufacturers. But COVAX had only shipped 340,800 cans into the country by the end of July. According to the latest official data, dated July 25, only 4 percent of Paraguayans were fully vaccinated.
"We rely on the COVAX mechanism to generate equity," said Abdo Benítez. “I have to say it with pain. I can not keep calm."
Worldwide, COVAX misses its delivery targets by half a billion cans. Although one of its architects said that COVAX aimed to "ensure that solvency does not become an obstacle to access to (vaccines)," the opposite appears to have occurred. Vaccine manufacturers were reluctant to sell to COVAX, and wealthy countries bypassed the initiative to siphon much of the manufacturers' available supply in direct deals. And there has been little technology transfer to expand global vaccine production, which means that a delay in one facility can cause huge backups that spread around the world.
The worldwide distribution of vaccines worked largely according to the preferences of pharmaceutical companies and wealthy countries, rather than through a stock-based system. Although the United States, the largest vaccine donor to date, says it allocates doses based on criteria aimed at saving lives, it does so on a scale that is only one-hundredth of what the WHO deems necessary to save lives Bringing pandemic under control Control worldwide.
Now that the Delta variant is taking off, several Latin American politicians are trying to redefine their vaccine strategies and boost local production.
Looking for a new offer. Paraguay has secured new contracts with Pfizer and Moderna with its delayed COVAX shots. The Dominican Republic, which also complained about COVAX delays, increased its orders from China's Sinovac.
These steps have brought their own challenges. An official from Paraguay, which diplomatically recognizes Taiwan, said a subsidiary of Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm had terminated a vaccine deal on "geopolitical grounds" while Pfizer reportedly pressured Latin American governments to sign unprecedented government bonds as guarantees against the cost of potential legal proceedings .
Countries have also slowly worked to build local manufacturing capacity. The first full course with locally produced Sputnik V cans was approved for quality this week at a factory in Argentina. Cuba is exporting its homemade Abdala vaccine to Venezuela and could soon send it to Bolivia while Brazil's Butanvac and Mexico's Patria shots are in clinical trials. On Wednesday, Chile announced it was building a facility that will fill and finish doses of Sinovac's vaccine.
At the request of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations, Alicia Bárcena of the United Nations presented the group with a roadmap to strengthen regional vaccine access at its annual meeting last week. This includes collaborating on access to intellectual property (IP) and providing more production capacity online.
Weighing compulsory licenses. While negotiations on a special waiver of intellectual property for COVID-19 health technologies at the World Trade Organization (WTO) have stalled, an existing WTO agreement already allows countries to circumvent pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property rights in certain emergencies. Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have passed resolutions that facilitate this process in the face of COVID-19.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro's executive has spoken out against renouncing intellectual property. However, the country's legislature is in the final stages of passing a bill that would allow Congress to issue compulsory licenses under WTO agreements that would allow local businesses to manufacture and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics without the consent of patent holders to export. Brazil used the threat of such licenses in the early 2000s to pressure pharmaceutical companies to cut the cost of HIV drugs.
Brazilian law is backed by groups ranging from AIDS activists and black activists to center-right senators – a sign of the broad support that remains in the country for this type of measure.
The cost of current trends. Health experts have warned that new – and potentially deadlier – variants of the coronavirus will emerge the slower vaccination rates around the world are. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that a roughly $ 50 billion push to vaccinate 40 percent of the population of all countries by the end of 2021 and 60 percent by mid-2022 will bring $ 9 trillion in global GDP growth .
The continuation of vaccinations at their current level also has consequences for political stability and migration. For example, more Nicaraguans have been found on the US southern border in the past three months than in any 12-month period in the past 20 years. The political repression in Nicaragua plays a role, but also the fact that the tourism-oriented economy of Costa Rica, in which Nicaraguan migrants usually look for work, continues to be severely affected by COVID-19.
Friday, August 6th: Protests are expected in Bogota Colombiato demand police reform, emergency income and the right to demonstrate.
Monday, August 9th: Mexico's budget will be presented in the congress.
Monday 23 August: Completion appointment for Chilean presidential candidates to register.
Mexico is suing US arms manufacturers. The Mexican government sued ten US gun companies in federal court in Massachusetts on the grounds that they facilitated the illegal acquisition of their guns by Mexican criminal groups. Mexican gun laws are much stricter than those in the United States; The U.S. Department of Justice found that 70 percent of firearms tracked in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 came from the north.
US legal experts described the lawsuit as far-fetched, but highlight the role of US weapons in the deadly violence in Mexico. Mexico City has long called on Washington to better control the arms trade.
Multi-lane climate talks in Brazil. US Climate Commissioner John Kerry held the first of a series of meetings with several Brazilian state governors on July 30 and set up a communication channel separate from the Bolsonaro federal administration, which has proven uncooperative on climate commitments.
Senior White House officials also visited Brasília on Thursday, where they met with Bolsonaro and the governors. With Bolsonaro, they discussed Brazil's upcoming tendering process for setting up a 5G cellular network. Washington has urged Brasília to ban Huawei as a 5G provider, arguing that the Chinese government could use Huawei's infrastructure for espionage. Huawei is already well established in Brazil and has considerable clout.
Title 42 renewed. Contrary to expectations, the Biden administration on Monday extended a controversial rule from March 2020 that provides for the immediate expulsion of undocumented migrants, including asylum seekers, from the U.S. southern border. An exception to the rule remains for unaccompanied migrant children.
The rule's official purpose is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but many types of tourism from Mexico remain allowed. The regulation has led to family segregation and severe psychological consequences for asylum seekers, Human Rights Doctors reported last week.
IMF warning on crypto. Next month, El Salvador will be the first country to adopt the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal tender. In a recent blog post, the IMF warned that Bitcoin and its competitors as legal tender pose risks to macroeconomic stability and financial integrity given the risks of using it for illegal activities. Although the post did not mention El Salvador by name, the IMF is currently negotiating a potential $ 1 billion loan with its government.
Question of the week
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed this week that Mexico will host talks between the Venezuelan government and its opposition, which could begin as soon as next Friday. Who moderated the last such talks that failed in 2019?
A. The European Union
In focus: Latin Americanisms in Tokyo
In a stroke of athletic justice, Latin American athletes have an incredibly powerful Olympics after their countries suffered health, economic and political hardships during the pandemic. The Latin American country with the most gold medals was Cuba, which won five on Thursday lunchtime.
Apart from the hardware, the behavior of Latin American athletes on and off the field offers insights into the culture and politics of the region.
Brazilian favela funk. Last week, artistic gymnast Rebeca Andrade was the first Brazilian to win an Olympic medal in her sport with silver in the all-around and gold in vault. But she had already won Brazil over with her floor exercise choreography. Andrade staggers to the funk song “Baile de Favela”, a 2015 anthem of urban working-class neighborhoods. Brazilian funk is a genre that has historically been viewed negatively and even criminalized by the authorities. "Carrying the funk culture into the world is incredible," she told SporTV.
Puerto Rican nationalism. Despite being a US territory, Puerto Rico has been participating in the Olympic Games as a separate country since 1948, thanks to a decision by the International Olympic Committee. Many Puerto Ricans refer to the island as a country, a reference to its complex history and struggle for political rights, including a decades-old movement for sovereignty. Including the Tokyo gold medal hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who alluded to the excitement in her "small country" after her victory. USA Today cut out their use of the phrase but corrected the quote after experiencing a setback online.
Venezuelan dance moves. To celebrate the gold medal of the Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas, a fan posted a viral thread made up of various videos of Rojas dancing: to salsa, vallenato, Dembow and drums. "She also dances gold," he said. Rojas broke a 26 year old world record with 15.67 meters. Along with three silver medals from teammates – so far – the Rojas triumph was a rare moment of unity for the country.
Norway was the mediator of the talks that failed in August and September 2019, the last round of which took place in Barbados. Further details on these negotiations can be found in this overview from the International Crisis Group.