Raúl Castro meets with the Association of Caribbean States in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Presidencia El Salvador via Flickr)
Today in Latin America

Cuba Faces Food and Medicine Shortages Amid Developing Crisis

April 19, 2019 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

CUBA: Shortages have hit Cuba. Stores lack basics, like eggs, chicken, oil and rice, and essentials such as medicine often disappear for days or weeks. In the meantime, Cubans are stuck waiting in hours-long lines for goods. Raúl Castro warned Cubans to prepare for worsening shortages last week as the country moved to institute further cutbacks due to the government’s lack of hard currency to buy imported goods and lack of infrastructure to process domestic products. The Cuban government is comparing these shortages to the “special period” following the collapse of the Soviet Union during which Cuba suffered extreme shortages and economic turmoil. Amid this developing economic crisis, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba.

HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: Ten bodies have been found in a clandestine grave located in Valle de la Saucera, Nayarit, within the last week. The bodies were presumably buried by members of organized crime at a depth of nearly 10 feet in the middle of cane fields, making it difficult to exhume them, according to state authorities. Members of the Familias Unidas Collective for Nayarit say that since January 2018, three graves have been located near the same area, including one with 33 bodies in it, located between banana tree and sugar cane plantations.

MEXICO: A trailer transporting a total of 64 Central American migrants rolled over in the municipality of Vega de Alatorre, Mexico, early yesterday morning. Nineteen people were injured in the accident, and six were eventually treated at the Regional Hospital of Misantla, according to Civil Protection officials. The accident took place when the driver lost control of the unit and overturned on the Palma Sola road, in the Gulf region of the country. The migrants, who consisted of men, women and children, were all from either Honduras or El Salvador and sought to reach the United States-Mexico border.

UNITED STATES: President Donald Trump attempted to gather public support via Twitter on Wednesday to pressure congressional Democrats to bend their stance on immigration and discourage the uptick of migrants at the United States-Mexico border. The House majority, however, remains dismissive of new White House proposals on immigration. In fact, part of House Democrats’ plans to act on immigration this year includes a revamped Dream Act which would allow a path to citizenship or legal status for up to 3.6 million people who arrived in the U.S. as children.

CENTRAL AMERICA

GUATEMALA: On Wednesday Guatemalan presidential candidate Mario Estrada was arrested in Miami on drug charges. According to investigators, Estrada was charged alongside another Guatemalan national, Juan Pablo González, with conspiring with the Sinaloa Mexican cartel to smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States through Guatemalan airports and ports, as well as soliciting $10 million from the cartel to fund his presidential campaign. Estrada was also charged with hiring and agreeing to arm hitmen to assassinate political rivals. The charges are a result of a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation in partnership with Guatemalan law enforcement officials that began in December 2018.

CARIBBEAN

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico lost nearly 4% of its population following Hurricane Maria, according to Census Bureau data. The data shows that the island’s population decreased by 129,848 people people between July 2017 and July 2018 mostly due to emigrations but also due to deaths. The time period includes when Hurricane Maria struck the American territory in September 2017. The data also shows that the amount of deaths increased during the months immediately following the hurricane. While all municipalities decreased in populations, metropolitan areas such as the island’s capital San Juan, Bayamón and Ponce saw the largest drops in population, according to new Census Bureau data released yesterday.

CUBA: On Monday, Mexico deported 148 Cuban migrants in agreement with the Cuban government while other Central American migrants advanced through the Mexican state of Chiapas. The repatriations come at a time when over 2,000 Cubans are stationed in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, preparing to launch a caravan this week to cross Mexico toward the United States as part of the new wave of Cubans seeking asylum in the U.S.

ANDES

VENEZUELA: The Russian ambassador to Venezuela rejected the revival of a U.S. doctrine used to rationalize intervention in the region in a rare interview this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to Caracas, Vladimir Zaemskiy, criticized assertions by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton that the Monroe Doctrine is “alive and well.” Announced in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine aimed to block European intervention in the Americas but was used as a justification for the U.S. to meddle militarily in states across the region. These statements come at a time when Russia has pledged full support of the Maduro administration while the U.S. backs self declared interim president Juan Guaidó.   

SOUTHERN CONE

BRAZIL: Yesterday, a second man died after a mistaken shooting by the military, sparking protests. Soldiers opened fire on a family’s Sedan in Rio de Janeiro, striking Luciano Macedo as he attempted to help those injured in the car. The troops confused the car with one allegedly used in a robbery, according to authorities. Driver Evaldo dos Santos died at the scene while Macedo died yesterday in hospital. Ten of the 12 soldiers are in custody and an investigation is underway.

ARGENTINA: President Mauricio Macri announced Wednesday that the government will be freezing prices on 60 essential goods and several services in an attempt to halt rising inflation. The agreement with companies will halt the price of goods including flour, oil and rice at least until the end of October ahead of presidential elections. The announcement comes a day after authorities reported that the inflation rate reached about 55% in March.

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