Americas

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Last Friday President Trump flew in for a visit to Doral.

“I know it very well,” he said. “’Little Venezuela,’ we call it.”

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COMMENTARY

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed this week he’d tested positive for COVID-19 – hardly stunning news given his reckless disregard for the pandemic – he became one of the Western Hemisphere’s 6.2 million cases and counting.

Matilde Campodonico / AP

Uruguay has recorded the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in South America, if not the entire western hemisphere. The small but progressive country has done that despite sitting right next door to Brazil – which has the world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities behind the U.S.

FIU LACC

Seven years ago, Miami native Frank Mora left the Pentagon and came home to take over Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, or LACC. Since then, Mora has turned the center into a more nationally important forum of conversation on Latin America.

Government of Cape Verde

Ten days ago, Colombian businessman Alex Saab was arrested in Cape Verde, an island republic off Africa’s west coast, as his private jet was refueling. Saab is wanted in the U.S. on money-laundering charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars – but his detention in Cape Verde and his possible extradition to Miami carry big political stakes in Venezuela.

In one of the most controversial moments of one of America’s most controversial presidencies, Donald Trump this month sent National Guard troops to Washington's D.C.'s Lafayette Square, near the White House. Pepper spray was fired to disperse what videos show were largely peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.

Trump says he supports the protesters’ cause. But his unusual military response has divided Americans – including Latin American expats here in South Florida.

Courtesy Col5Vid

Col5Vid – a Spanish pun that stands for Colombia Sin COVID, or Colombia Without COVID-19 – is one of Colombia’s most dynamic new charity groups. But Col5Vid's founder admits the idea wasn’t born at a board room table – but on a bedroom sofa.

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They're a familiar sight and sound in South Florida’s Venezuelan community: videos of exiles defending themselves against accusations that they’re “Chavistas," or sympathizers of Venezuela’s authoritarian socialist regime, a government despised by almost every expat here.

But the “yo no soy Chavista” Facebook video Carmen Jaqueline Gimenez recently posted was of particular interest because she’s running for office in November – for mayor of Hallandale Beach.

Toby Muse

In South Florida we tend to think of the golden age of cocaine (if it can be called that) as the 1980s – iconic Colombian drug lords like Pablo Escobar and cocaine cowboys marauding through Miami. But according to British-American journalist Toby Muse, cocaine's real golden age is…today.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

COMMENTARY

We know one likely reason Brazil’s coronavirus emergency is in full meltdown. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro calls the pandemic a “media hoax” and has done everything in his power, like hosting a large pro-Bolsonaro street rally last weekend, to undermine social distancing.

YESICA FISCH / AP

Brazil is now the world’s fastest growing COVID-19 hotspot. Each day the country is reporting more than 10,000 new infections – and about a thousand new deaths. Brazil’s top scientists say the country isn’t even close to its pandemic peak yet. And over the weekend its health minister quit – the second to leave in a month.

WLRN’s Christine DiMattei spoke with Americas editor Tim Padgett about Brazil’s COVID-19 meltdown – and the political chaos that’s making it worse.

Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica

Like so many doctors around the world, pediatric surgeon Roberto Herrera was exposed to the new coronavirus back in early March.

“Of course I was scared at first,” says Herrera. That's in no small part because he was also at-risk: he’s 61 and asthmatic. But Herrera insists he was never panicked. After all, he says, he lives in Costa Rica – which has reported only seven COVID-19 deaths and fewer than 800 cases.

Ministerio de Salud de Ecuador

Ecuador's new health minister, Dr. Juan Carlos Zevallos, talks with WLRN's Latin America Report about the "horrifying" experience of trying to get his country's COVID-19 pandemic crisis under control. Calling Ecuador unprepared, he says, is "absolutely unfair."

Luis Perez / AP

No country in Latin America and the Caribbean has been hit as hard by the new coronavirus as Ecuador. Brazil, a far larger country, may have more COVID-19 cases; but Ecuador’s death toll is thought to be twice as high as Brazil’s. And no place in Ecuador has suffered as terribly as the port city of Guayaquil.

Gobierno de Cuba (left); AP (right)

In Washington this month, President Trump announced the U.S. had just “bought a tremendous amount of hydroxychloroquine.” That’s the anti-malaria drug he insists is the most promising treatment for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. "A game-changer,” the conservative leader likes to say.

In Havana, Eduardo Martínez – head of BioCubaFarma, communist Cuba’s state-run biotech and pharmaceutical industry – just as often touts the island’s anti-dengue drug interferon alpha 2B (or alfa 2b), which he and the government insist is a COVID-19 wonder drug.

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