End the Attacks on Cuba
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba Regarding the Terrorist Attack Against the Cuban Embassy in the U.S.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed in a prompt manner, at around 2:00 o'clock today, that is, in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, April 30, 2020, a terrorist attack was perpetrated against the embassy of the Republic of Cuba to the United States in Washington. An unidentified individual shot at the building of the Cuban embassy in the U.S. using an assault rifle.
None of the members of the staff of the mission, who are safe and protected, were injured, but some material damage was caused to the building as a result of the numerous gunshots.
Cuba's diplomatic mission in Washington has a security and protection system in place against any threat that may jeopardize the diplomatic officials, their family members and the facilities.
The individual, whose identity has not been reported to the Cuban government, was arrested by the local authorities and remains in their custody.
We appreciate the professional behaviour of the law enforcement agency officers who very quickly arrived at the scene of the incident.
Today, at noon, I summoned the Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Mrs. Mara Tekach, to discuss this serious incident.
I protested in the strongest of terms the grave terrorist attack perpetrated against the Cuban embassy. I asked her: How would the U.S. government react to such an attack against any of its embassies? I recalled the unfair actions and threats made by the U.S. Government, without the least explanation or evidence, about the so-called acoustic attacks against American diplomats.
Copy of contract with Silvercorp signed by Juan Guaidó
In a video he released on social media, Goudreau confirmed that the amphibious landing attempt had been launched from Colombia and that "other units" were active in the "south, west, and east of Venezuela." By Sunday night Goudreau was on television, being interviewed by the Miami-based Venezuelan opposition propagandist Patricia Poleo, whom he had provided with a copy of a contract bearing the signatures of Juan Guaidó and two of his associates, to retain the services of Silvercorp for a fee of $212 million. He also provided her with a secretly made recording of a conversation he allegedly had with the U.S.-appointed "president" of Venezuela as he was about to sign the contract. Goudreau claimed he had been stiffed by Guaidó and his people who never came up with the money they agreed to pay for his services. The contract was later obtained by the Washington Post as well which posted it in full, showing that it called for "an operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro, remove the current Regime and install the recognized Venezuelan President, Juan Guaidó."
Misión Verdad reports that after leaving Colombia the boats made a stop in Aruba before running aground on the Venezuelan coast. It notes that Aruba, along with Bonaire and Curaçao, are part of the Dutch crown colonies in the West Indies and that just last year, to appease the U.S., the Netherlands recognized the imposter Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's president. Misión Verdad further points out that Aruba and Curaçao house two U.S. bases, Reina Beatriz and Hato Rey, from which the Southern Command coordinates a Forward Operating Location, spearheading its alleged anti-drug operations in the region. It also recalls that on March 30 the cruise ship Resolute rammed a Venezuelan Coast Guard vessel near Venezuela's La Tortuga Island, without having requested permission to be in Venezuelan waters. The Resolute then took off for Curaçao. The head of the FANB's Strategic Operational Command, Admiral in Chief Remigio Ceballos, stated in mid-April that the Resolute was in the region to "plant mercenaries" in Venezuela.
At a press conference on May 3, Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, Nestor Reverol, and Minister of Defence, Vladimir Padrino López, said that the Bolivarian forces' defensive operation was ongoing and that further arrests of those involved could be expected -- which has in fact been taking place. Padrino also announced that a new set of "Bolivarian Shield" military exercises would begin immediately.
Since the arrests were made videos released by the Venezuelan government have been widely circulated showing the two detained U.S. mercenaries, both former green berets, answering questions about what they were hired to do, who they worked for, and more. Both said they were employed under a contract signed between Silvercorp and Juan Guaidó and implicated the U.S. government in the plot.
In a statement made before the accredited diplomatic corps and international media in Venezuela on May 6, President Nicolás Maduro said the U.S. mercenaries had confessed their guilt and would be tried, with full rights, for violating Venezuelan and international law. While denying the U.S. had any "direct" involvement in the botched "Operation Gideon" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his government would use all the tools at its disposal to bring the two back to the U.S. Regarding the owner of Silvercorp, Jordan Goudreau, who publicly took credit for the criminal action, President Maduro said a request would be made for him to be extradited to face justice in Venezuela.
TML Weekly denounces in the strongest of terms this latest episode in the dirty war the U.S. has been waging against the sovereign government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The crimes against humanity of the U.S. imperialists are all the more reprehensible and deserving of universal condemnation because they are aimed at taking advantage of the fact that the Bolivarian government is fully engaged in battling the COVID-19 pandemic -- which it is doing with exemplary responsibility and resourcefulness, achieving better results than any country in Latin America in containing the virus, and doing so in spite of the stepped-up coercive economic measures the U.S. is bringing to bear against it with the vain hope of finally achieving its criminal aim of regime change.
While all this is taking place in front of everyone's eyes, not a peep has been heard from the government of Canada which has all along done yeoman's service for the U.S. -- setting up and leading its illegitimate Lima Group, voicing support for activation of the Cold War relic known as the Rio Treaty against Venezuelaand promoting the U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó as the "legitimate" president of Venezuela despite his lack of support inside Venezuela, and being exposed more every day for the theft, corruption and violence he stands for. Meanwhile, Guaidó's fake "ambassador" to Canada has taken to spewing out ugly rants against Cuba over Twitter in the style of the anti-Cuba mafia in Southern Florida and its echo in the Trump administration. It is to its eternal shame that in its efforts to appease the U.S. imperialists, the Trudeau government cannot bring itself to speak against such infamy in a way that reflects the Canadian people's revulsion for the criminal U.S.-led and incited assault against Venezuela and the role being played by the violent coup forces it has helped to prop up and pass off as defenders of human rights and democracy.
TML Weekly calls on the people of Canada and Quebec to denounce the criminal machinations of the increasingly desperate regime change forces and to show full support for the fight of the Venezuelan people and their government led by President Nicolás Maduro, as they give expression to the civil-military union that is a legacy of Commander Hugo Chávez and hallmark of the Boliviarian revolution to safeguard their sovereignty and independence.
What Canada Is Up To at the Organization of American States
On March 20, 2020, a reckless and irresponsible General Assembly (GA) was held by the Organization of American States (OAS), putting the health of many at risk and giving an entirely wrong example to the entire world. The meeting of at least 50 persons was held amid intense concerns about the quickly spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19), and despite the strongest possible recommendations by U.S. and international health authorities not to hold gatherings larger than 10 persons.
This dangerous act was done to hold the election for a Secretary-General of the Organization and to gain an advantage for the incumbent, Luis Almagro, who was the declared candidate of the U.S., Brazil and Colombia. Almagro's current term does not end until May 28. Therefore, the meeting could easily have been postponed for at least a month, allowing time for greater control of COVID-19.
Rather than cancelling the meeting, the OAS issues a press release stating it is inspecting the meeting room. Click to enlarge.
Despite logic and good sense, many member states of the Organization were coerced into holding what was, at best, a wrongful meeting. At worst, the meeting was illegal.
The meeting proceeded, based on the advice of the Legal Secretary of the OAS. He is an employee of the Secretariat and is answerable to the Secretary-General. He may be the most independent-minded and fair person in the world, but because all his opinions have synchronized with the positions of the Secretary-General and powerful states within the Organization, healthy scepticism of his advice is understandable.
Remarkably, the Permanent Council of the OAS -- the supposedly highest, day-to-day decision-making organ of the institution -- has no legal counsel of its own, and no machinery for seeking external and independent legal guidance. Therefore, the opinion of the Legal Secretary prevails.
In the week running-up to the GA, the U.S. was in a state of heightened concern over COVID-19. The official advice from the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the President of the U.S. himself, was to hold no gatherings larger than ten persons.
Three days before the meeting, 13 CARICOM countries sent a joint letter to all member states of the OAS and to the Secretary-General, pointing out the dangers of the meeting, and the powerful advice from all pertinent health authorities, to postpone it. Haiti was the only CARICOM country that did not sign the official letter.
While the CDC was asked to examine the OAS building at which the meeting was held, there were no other pertinent checks. No one, entering the room, was checked for their travel history, or for the travel history of persons with whom they had been in contact. Anyone could have been COVID-19 positive, but simply displaying no symptoms. The virus is known to take up to 14 days to incubate. The dangerous consequences of that meeting may yet unfold.
Up to the day prior to the event, meetings of representatives of the regional groups of the Organization were held electronically to consider the letter from the 13 Caribbean countries, which had the private backing of many other states, although some of them were silent publicly for whatever reason.
On March 19, the Legal Secretary gave the opinion that the GA could only be postponed by the Permanent Council since the decision to hold the General Assembly on March 20 was taken by the Permanent Council and only the Permanent Council could change its own rules. When asked whether the Permanent Council could hold an electronic meeting to consider postponement, the Legal Secretary gave the further opinion, ex cathedra, that the rules of the Council did not permit electronic meetings. It seemed not to occur to him that the rules were written prior to the technological age in which circumstances, such as COVID-19, did not exist. He also casually dismissed the notion that where rules are silent on a course of action, simple common sense should prevail. In all the opinions he gave, the Legal Secretary was backed up by the representatives of the countries determined to hold the GA on March 20.
What is important to note here is that a precedent has now been set. No meetings of the Permanent Council can be held electronically since the rules do not provide for it. The Organization may yet be hoisted by this petard in the weeks ahead.
Of further note is that the GA was held under new rules of procedure that were not approved by the GA itself, although only the GA could change its own rules. None of the states that insisted on holding it, nor the Legal Secretary, has explained on what authority the rules were changed.
All of this is a sad indication of what the OAS has become. It is an organization run by a few for a few. In any event, Luis Almagro was elected for a second term with 23 votes. Ten countries voted for Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the remaining contender, since the Peruvian candidate Luis de Zela had withdrawn, and Dominica was the sensible absentee.
Over the last few years, the OAS has experienced a bitter period of division among its member states that has left the Organization weakened and lacking in a coherent vision of its way forward in the collective interest of the people of the Americas that it was created to serve.
If these divisions are not bridged and these wounds are not healed, the Organization will continue to exist only as a cauldron for disagreement and discord. This would be catastrophic for the OAS as an institution. It would also be calamitous for Almagro's record.
Majority is not consensus. To operate only based on satisfying a majority, however achieved, neglects the interests of many others. The OAS will not survive in constant contention, vexation and division. Almagro's second term provides him a great opportunity to leave a legacy of which he could be proud and which all member states could honour. It will require him to be attentive to the needs and aspirations of each group within the OAS, and to forge a common and vibrant agenda on which there is genuine consensus.
The member states themselves also must be committed to that goal and act on it, or the Organization will wither into a few states, using it as a bullhorn for their own positions, disdained by others tired of being subjugated.
(Sir Ronald Sanders is the non-resident High Commissioner to Canada of Antigua and Barbuda and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the U.S. and the OAS.)
(March 26, 2020. Photo: OAS)
Meetings of International Financial Institutions and G20
Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and to the Organization of American States as well as non-resident High Commissioner to Canada, in an article published April 19, wrote about the plight of the Caribbean countries as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. All the countries had forecast good growth rates for 2020 but that has all gone up in smoke. Sanders explains the situation facing the Caribbean nations and, more generally, all the countries in the clutches of the international financial institutions. His article reports on current meetings of these institutions and the decisions they are taking which do not favour developing countries.
With significantly reduced revenues and increased emergency costs to prevent and contain the coronavirus, many of the Caribbean countries will find it extremely difficult to pay the pensions and wages of their public service establishments, Sanders writes. On April 16, heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) asked the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) to access "assistance to meet the financial challenges arising from the crisis." They all need both an injection of money to help them meet budgetary costs over the next nine months at least, and a suspension of debt service payments to other governments and private lenders from whom they have borrowed, Sanders explains. He writes:
"But it is clear that the countries that control the levers of the global economy, including the decision-making bodies of the IMF, the WBG, and the Paris Club, have no intention of allowing suspension of debt owed by middle-income and high-income Caribbean countries, even though, the criteria is a false measurement of development and financial capability.
"G20 Finance Ministers -- the representatives of the world's richest nations -- meeting on April 15, issued a communiqué that was long on words, but short on commitment to deliver on the needs of any but low-income countries. It is almost as if countries are being punished for better policies and economic performance.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has once again highlighted not only inequality between nations but, more importantly, the damaging consequences of an unjust economic order. While rich nations will suffer unemployment and economic decline, they have all the resources to recover from these circumstances. Developing countries -- particularly small developing states -- don't.
"Globally, there is now the prospect of a serious debt crisis, and the Caribbean is engulfed in it. If the problem is not addressed, there will be more than $100 billion in capital outflows from developing economies. That figure, calculated by reputable organizations, is nearly five times the level from 2008 when a global recession was started by the failures of major U.S. banks.
"At the end of the disastrous effects of the pandemic -- whatever unpredictable shape that takes -- small developing countries, for the most part, will be left poorer, highly-indebted and with little fiscal space, after debt servicing, to return to their growth projections in January 2020. COVID-19 has created a storm much worse than any brutal hurricane that the Caribbean has ever suffered.
"The G20 leaders said that they will do 'whatever it takes' to stop companies and households in their countries from taking a heavy loss of income. But despite declaring that 'global action, solidarity and international cooperation are more than ever necessary,' they have given no such undertaking to the countries outside their own nations, except to low-income countries, which, in the Caribbean is Haiti.
"The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on March 30, called for a $2.5 trillion coronavirus package for developing countries. UNCTAD argued that this figure matches the sum of 0.7 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product that developed countries had pledged to deliver over the last ten years but didn't. Only five of them -- all in Europe -- fulfilled their undertaking.
"UNCTAD detailed the use of the funds in three ways: a $1 trillion liquidity injection -- a kind of helicopter money drop for those being left behind; a debt jubilee for distressed economies, including an immediate debt standstill on sovereign debt payments; and a Marshall Plan for health recovery, largely in the form of grants.
"While every developing country should agitate for acceptance of the UNCTAD proposal, it would meet strong resistance from the most powerful nations. Already, the IMF's board of directors was restrained by the countries with largest voting rights from lending to Venezuela and Iran. Further, the defunding of the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United States because of its perception that China influenced the organization over the pandemic, indicate political considerations and not humanitarian or even financial ones.
"What the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated again is that the prevailing policies of the IMF and WBG are unhelpful to the majority of nations of the world, including the Caribbean, that are classified as middle or high income, disregarding the many other factors of their underdevelopment and vulnerabilities. For instance, the IMF/Bank proposals did not address rescheduling or forgiveness of multilateral debt or debt owed to private banks.
"Caribbean countries will get loans from the IMF and WBG after going through many hoops, but the process will not be swift, and the conditions will be rough. In these circumstances, Caribbean governments, the private sector, political parties, and trade unions need to collaborate on the actions they can jointly take to weather the gathering storm that has not yet fully formed. They also must prepare for a long haul."
("Prepare for a Long Haul: the Storm Is Not Fully Formed," Sir Ronald Sanders, April 19, 2020. Photo: E.M. Enrique)
International Campaign in the Philippines
On April 25, the Toronto Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines in Canada (ICHRP-Canada) hosted an online event to bring to light the struggle of the people in the Philippines in general, and Negros Island in particular, against the violence of the Duterte regime. Negros is second only to Mindanao in terms of military presence and perpetration of violence against the people by the U.S.-backed Duterte regime. Negros, the fourth largest island in the Philippines, is the most important sugar producing region in the country and a critical region in the people's struggle, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army, to liberate their country from the clutches of U.S. imperialism and foreign domination, as well as the local rich and landlords.
Clarizza Singson, Secretary General of the National Alliance for Human Rights in the Philippines and a leading activist in a number of other organizations, including the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, was the main presenter. Due to her work in defence of people's rights in the Philippines, Clarizza is subject to state surveillance and she and her family have had their lives threatened by the state. These threats are taken very seriously as a number of her colleagues have been executed by paramilitary forces. She is currently in Canada to speak about the critical situation on Negros.
She explained that Negros is the sugar bowl of the Philippines, with 90 per cent of the population engaged in sugar production. Of 28 sugar mills in the Philippines, 12 are in Negros. More than half of the Philippines' 750,000 sugar workers live in Negros and more than half of all Philippines' sugar is produced there.
The entry of the Philippines into the World Trade Organization in the mid-1990s and the Structural Adjustment Program introduced as a result had dire consequences for the sugar workers and the industry. Foreign sugar began to be imported into the islands, which drove down wages and working conditions. Sugar workers in Negros earn less than half the minimum wage level recognized by the government. Ninety-five per cent of the work is done based on a piecework system and workers, as individual contractors, are forced to hire their children and other family members to meet the quotas needed to subsist. The piecework system and the low wages reinforce the use of child labour. Poverty and hunger haunt a majority of people in Negros every single day.
During the off-season, sugar workers have to go to the city to earn some income -- in construction, as domestics or in similar fields -- where they live on the margins of society.
In Negros, and elsewhere in the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army have introduced what is called "Bungkalan" as part of their land reform campaign. After the sugar harvest, the peasants take possession of the land to grow their own food. Those who work the land earn work points, their share in the bounty of their own labour. On Negros more than 200 Bungkalan have been established and it has shaken the exploitative feudal hacienda system on the island. The Philippine state, headed by Duterte, which represents the hacienderos and warlords, has unleashed fascist violence -- so-called counter-insurgency programs patterned on U.S. counter-insurgency programs -- to crush the people's resistance.
Several massacres by Duterte forces have been documented by rights organizations, including the Sagay Massacre on October 20, 2018 when nine people were killed. Secretary General Ben Ramos of the National Union of People's Lawyers of the Philippines was killed November 6, 2018, as they were preparing legal campaigns seeking justice for the Sagay Massacre. Ninety-nine political prisoners currently remain in detention.
Negros has been under a State of Emergency since November 22, 2018 and "A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict" was established in December 2018. This has increased the number of extra-judicial killings and state violence. Negros had the highest number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the first year of the State of Emergency with eighty-seven people brutally murdered.
At the same time, the military has conducted an organized campaign to raid the offices of Bayan and other people's defence organizations in order to disrupt these organizations' work to defend the legal rights of the people.
A massive disinformation campaign of fake surrenders and confessions is also carried out against the people's forces in order to disorganize and disrupt their growing strength. The ongoing military presence and occupation of Negros and other islands force people to flee their homes in the wake of threats, intimidation and judicial killings. Homes of suspected New People's Army supporters are razed to the ground as part of the fascist violence and terror against the people.
Despite the ongoing terror and violence and every effort by the U.S.-backed Duterte regime to subvert their struggle, the Philippine people's movement for self-determination and liberation in Negros and other islands continues to grow. TML Weekly calls on everyone to support the important work of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines in Canada and step up support for the heroic Philippine people's struggle for emancipation, self-determination, independence and peace.
(Photos: TML, Bayan, Negros 14)
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) this week raised the alarm about the need to support those countries with limited capacity to fight COVID-19. "The peak of the disease in the world's poorest countries is not expected until some point over the next three to six months. However, there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals," states a May 7 UN press release.
Mark Lowcock, the United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, called for swift and determined action to avoid the most destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in those countries. "The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting us all. But the most devastating and destabilizing effects will be felt in the world's poorest countries. In the poorest countries we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear," said Lowcock. "Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty. The spectre of multiple famines looms."
The OCHA is calling on countries to contribute an additional U.S.$6.7 billion to the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, to carry through its work to the end of 2020. The global plan is the primary international fundraising mechanism to respond to the humanitarian impacts of the virus in low- and middle-income countries and support their efforts to fight it. The plan brings together appeals from WHO and other UN humanitarian agencies. The plan has been updated and expanded to include nine additional vulnerable countries: Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe, as well as programs to respond to the growth in food insecurity.
In a similar vein, the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently issued a report which informs that the pandemic and containment measures threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world's so-called informal economy workers (generally workers who are self-employed or unorganized) by as much as 56 per cent in low-income countries. In high-income countries, relative poverty levels among informal workers is estimated to increase by 52 per cent, while in upper middle-income countries the increase is estimated to be 21 per cent. In a May 7 press release, the ILO notes, "As many as 1.6 billion of the world's two billion informal economy workers are affected by lockdown and containment measures. Most are working in the hardest-hit sectors or in small units more vulnerable to shocks.
"These include workers in accommodation and food services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and the more than 500 million farmers producing for the urban market. Women are particularly affected in high-risk sectors, the report says.
"In addition, with these workers needing to work to feed their families, COVID-19 containment measures in many countries cannot be implemented successfully. This is endangering governments' efforts to protect the population and fight the pandemic. It may become a source of social tension in countries with large informal economies, the report says.
"More than 75 per cent of total informal employment takes place in businesses of fewer than ten workers, including 45 per cent of independent workers without employees.
"With most informal workers having no other means of support, they face an almost unsolvable dilemma: to die from hunger or from the virus, the briefing says. This has been exacerbated by disruptions in food supplies, which has particularly affected those in the informal economy.
"For the world's 67 million domestic workers, 75 per cent of whom are informal workers, unemployment has become as threatening as the virus itself. Many have not been able to work, whether at the request of their employers or in compliance with lockdowns. Those who do continue to go to work face a high risk of contagion, caring for families in private households. For the 11 million migrant domestic workers the situation is even worse.
"The countries with the largest informal economies where full lockdowns have been adopted, are suffering the most from the consequences of the pandemic. Informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown varies from 89 per cent in Latin America and the Arab States to 83 per cent in Africa, 73 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 64 per cent in Europe and Central Asia."
Unionized workers also face uncertainty and insecurity due to insufficient protective equipment and health and safety measures being provided by employers and the lack of enforcement by governments. The International Trade Union Confederations (ITUC) conducted its third COVID-19 survey April 20 to 23, with the participation of 148 trade unions in 107 countries, including 17 from G20 countries and 35 from OECD countries. It found that "[t]rade unions from just one in five (21 per cent) countries would rate the measures that are in place to protect workers from the spread of the virus at work as good. Most (54 per cent or 58 countries) would rate these protections as fair. Twenty-six countries (24 per cent) would rate the protections as poor."
The ITUC also points out, "Workers need official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease and governments to require reporting and recording of work-related cases, as well as compensation schemes and medical care for victims for work-related COVID-19 and for their bereaved families."
As various countries move to "reopen economies" to some degree, the ITUC informs that workplace safety is still sorely lacking around the world: "In the Americas 44 per cent of countries say measures for safe workplace are poor, and in Africa 41 per cent of countries say workplace safety is poor. Only 25 per cent of countries in Europe rate measures to protect workers from the spread of the virus as good.
"While many countries continue to respond to high levels of infections and deaths, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health and care workers is a serious issue in the majority of countries.
"Under half (49 per cent) of countries said that they always or very often have adequate supplies of PPE available for all health workers and care workers responding to the virus. Fifty-one per cent of countries said PPE supplies are sometimes, rarely or never adequate, exposing the risks faced by millions of frontline health and care workers responding to the pandemic."
1. The definition of the informal economy varies, with the ILO itself giving a somewhat complicated definition based on various national conditions. The organization Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing provides this relatively concise and informative definition: "The informal economy is the diversified set of economic activities, enterprises, jobs, and workers that are not regulated or protected by the state. The concept originally applied to self-employment in small unregistered enterprises. It has been expanded to include wage employment in unprotected jobs."
As of May 9, the worldwide statistics for COVID-19 pandemic as reported by Worldometer were:
- Total reported cases: 4,005,655. This is 579,273 more than the total reported on May 2 of 3,426,382. The increase in cases compared to the previous week was 570,683.
- Total active cases: 2,353,895. This is 261,951 more than the number reported on May 2 of 2,091,944. The increase in total active cases compared to the previous week was 250,668.
- Closed cases: 1,651,760. This is 317,322 more than the number reported on May 2 of 1,334,438. This compares to an increase in the previous week of 320,015.
- Deaths: 275,669. This is 35,181 more deaths than on May 2, when the toll was 240,488. This compares to an increase in the previous week of 41,956.
- Recovered: 1,376,091. This is up 282,141 from the May 2 figure of 1,093,950 and compares to an increase the previous week of 278,059 recoveries.
There were 96,262 new cases from May 7 to 8. This compares to the one-day increase in cases from April 30 to May 1 of 94,550 new cases.
The disease was present in 212 countries and territories, the same as the week prior. Of these, 56 countries had less than 100 cases, as compared to May 2 when there were 63 countries with less than 100 cases. There are eight countries/territories without active cases this week, up from four the previous week. They are Belize (18 cases; 16 recovered; 2 deaths), New Caledonia (18 cases, all recovered); the Malvinas (13 cases, all recovered); Greenland (11 cases, all recovered); Suriname (10 cases; 9 recovered; 1 death); Papua New Guinea (8 cases, all recovered); St. Barth (6 cases, all recovered); Anguilla (3 cases, all recovered).
The five countries with the highest number of cases on May 9 are noted below, accompanied by the number of cases and deaths per million population:
USA: 1,318,686 (1,018,180 active; 222,008 recovered;
78,498 deaths) and 3,984 cases per million; 237 deaths per
- May 2: 1,131,030 (903,714 active; 161,563 recovered; 65,753 deaths) and 3,417 cases per million; 199 deaths per million
Spain: 260,117 (65,410 active; 168,408 recovered;
and 5,563 cases per million; 562 deaths per million
- May 2: 242,979 (75,714 active; 142,441 recovered; 24,824 deaths); 5,197 cases per million; 531 deaths per million
Italy: 217,185 (87,961 active; 99,023 recovered; 30,201
deaths) and 3,592 cases per million; 500 deaths per million
- May 2: 207,428 (100,943 active; 78,249 recovered; 28,236 deaths) and 3,431 cases per million; 467 deaths per million
UK: 211,364 (179,779 active; recovered N/A; 31,241
deaths) and 3,114 cases per million; 460 deaths per million
- May 2: 177,454 (149,600 active; recovered N/A; 27,510 deaths) and 2,614 cases per million; 405 deaths per million
Russia: 187,859 (159,528 active; 26,608 recovered;
and 1,287 cases per million; 12 deaths per million
- May 2: 114,431 (100,042 active; 13,220 recovered; 1,169 deaths) and 784 cases per million; 8 deaths per million
The U.S. alone has about 33 per cent of all cases worldwide as compared to 33.28 on May 2. Cases in Europe comprise 39.48 per cent of all cases worldwide, as compared to 41.16 on May 2.
A notable change is that Russia had a large increase in cases over the past week and is now the country with the fifth highest number of reported cases worldwide.
In Europe on May 9, the country with the fourth and fifth highest number of reported cases after the three listed above are France and Germany:
France: 176,079 (94,067 active; 55,782 recovered;
and 2,698 cases per million; 402 deaths per million
- May 2: 167,346 (92,540 active; 50,212 recovered; 24,594 deaths) and 2,564 cases per million; 377 deaths per million
Germany: 170,678 (21,468 active; 141,700 recovered;
7,510 deaths) and 2,037 cases per million; 90 deaths per
- May 2: 164,077 (30,441 active; 126,900 recovered; 6,736 death) and 1,958 cases per million; 80 deaths per million
In Italy, the first country in Europe to apply a national lockdown, more than 4 million people were allowed to return to work on May 5. They were also allowed to visit relatives for the first time since March, as long as they do so in small groups and do not travel outside of their home region. Restaurants and coffee bars, until now limited to delivery services, were permitted to offer takeaway options. Parks and public areas reopened. Mourners could attend funerals but only up to 15 people at a time. Social distancing rules remain in force. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government plans to further loosen Italy's lockdown in two-week increments going forward. But he warned that if the coronavirus infection rates or death toll starts to worsen, that timeline could be pushed back.
In Eurasia on May 9:
Russia tops the list as reported above, followed by:
Turkey: 135,569 (45,484 active; 86,396 recovered; 3,689
deaths) and 1,607 cases per million; 44 deaths per million
- May 2: 122,392 (65,326 active; 53,808 recovered; 3,258 deaths) and 1,451 cases per million; 39 deaths per million
Kazakhstan: 4,834 (3,172 active; 1,631 recovered; 31
deaths) and 257 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
- May 2: 3,597 (2,650 active; 922 recovered; 25 deaths) and 192 cases per million; 1 death per million
Armenia: 3,029 (1,768 active; 1,218 recovered; 43
and 1,022 cases per million; 15 deaths per million
- May 2: 2,148 (1,138 active; 977 recovered; 33 deaths) and 725 cases per million; 11 deaths per million
Uzbekistan: 2,325 (540 active; 1,775 recovered; 10
deaths) and 69 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
- May 2: 2,086 (865 active; 1,212 recovered; 9 deaths) and 62 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
In West Asia on May 9:
Iran: 104,691 (14,313 active; 83,837 recovered; 6,541
deaths) and 1,246 cases per million; 78 deaths per million
- May 2: 95,646 (13,237 active; 76,318 recovered; 6,091 deaths) and 1,139 cases per million; 73 deaths per million
Saudi Arabia: 35,432 (26,083 active; 9,120 recovered;
229 deaths) and 1,018 cases per million; 7 deaths per
- May 2: 24,097 (20,373 active; 3,555 recovered; 169 deaths) and 692 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
Qatar: 20,201 (17,819 active; 2,370 recovered; 12
and 7,012 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 2: 14,096 (12,648 active; 1,436 recovered; 12 deaths) and 4,893 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
UAE: 16,793 (12,782 active; 3,837 recovered; 174
and 1,698 cases per million; 18 deaths per million
- May 2: 13,038 (10,384 active; 2,543 recovered; 111 deaths) and 1,318 cases per million; 11 deaths per million
Israel: 16,436 (4,962 active; 11,229 recovered; 245
deaths) and 1,899 cases per million; 28 deaths per million
- May 2: 16,101 (6,720 active; 9,156 recovered; 225 deaths) and 1,860 cases per million; 26 deaths per million
While Iran continues to have the most cases in West Asia, its situation is generally improving despite the brutal U.S. sanctions regime. It has brought the rate of new daily cases under 2,000 since April 8, compared to a peak of 3,186 new cases on March 30. The number of active cases peaked on April 5 at 32,612 cases. The rate of daily deaths peaked on April 4 at 158 and has been decreasing since then, remaining under 100 per day since April 14, and reaching the lowest rate in 11 weeks of 55 deaths on May 8. In spite of the inhuman sanctions, Iran has sent 40,000 COVID-19 test kits to Germany, Turkey and other countries.
In Qatar, the number of infections continues to rise. Qatari newspaper The Peninsula reported on April 27 that "Most of the new cases registered are due to expatriate workers working in different occupations who have been in contact with previously discovered cases, as well as recording new cases of COVID-19 among groups of workers from outside the industrial area who were identified through testing by the Ministry of Public Health." Out of Qatar's 2.8 million population, only about 300,000 to 400,000 are citizens; the rest are migrant workers and expatriates. Some 60 per cent of Qatar's population are low-wage migrant workers living in "labour camps" where they are not provided with dignified conditions. They are unable to maintain social distancing and proper hygiene.
One of the most vulnerable countries worldwide is Yemen, news agencies report. Before the pandemic, it was already affected by the war waged on it by Saudi Arabia with the connivance of the U.S. and Canada, as well as starvation and cholera. The first cluster of coronavirus infections was confirmed in Yemen on April 10, and humanitarian officials fear the virus will tear through with unprecedented speed and severity. "The factors are all here: Low levels of general immunity, high levels of acute vulnerability, and a fragile, overwhelmed health system," Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement last week.
In South Asia on May 9:
India: 59,693 (39,821 active; 17,887 recovered; 1,985
deaths) and 43 cases per million; 1 death per million
- May 2: 37,257 (26,027 active; 10,007 recovered; 1,223 deaths) and 27 cases per million; 0.9 deaths per million
Pakistan: 26,435 (18,306 active; 7,530 recovered; 599
deaths) and 120 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 18,092 (13,324 active; 4,351 recovered; 417 deaths) and 82 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
Bangladesh: 13,134 (10,827 active; 2,101 recovered; 206
deaths) and 80 cases per million; 1 death per million
- May 2: 8,238 (7,894 active; 174 recovered; 170 deaths) and 50 cases per million; 1 death per million
Afghanistan: 3,778 (3,197 active; 472 recovered; 109
deaths) and 97 cases per million; 3 cases per million
- May 2: 2,335 (1,957 active; 310 recovered; 68 deaths) and 60 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
Sri Lanka: 824 (575 active; 240 recovered; 9 deaths)
and 38 cases per million; 0.4 deaths per million
- May 2: 690 (521 active; 162 recovered; 7 deaths) and 32 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
In the case of India the statistics are not trustworthy due to the marginalization of the hundreds of millions of migrant daily wage earners who have been displaced. The ruling elite and their state, using the cover of the pandemic, have demanded that the work day be increased to 12 hours. Four states have already issued notifications to that effect. Working people are fighting this latest attack on their rights. Last December, around 250 million people went on strike to oppose these measures. The Reserve Bank of India has revealed that it has forgiven Rs 68,000 crores (CAD$12.56 billion) loans to a handful of defaulters, all big players of the ruling class. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of daily wage earners have no food. The state has deployed the army, police, paramilitary forces, parliament and courts to rob the labour and resources of the people. This is the meaning of the proclamation that India is the "world's largest democracy" i.e., that it is most efficient and advanced in the looting of public funds to the tune of trillions of dollars every year, which is the model of the Indian ruling elite.
Also in India, many human rights activists have been arrested by the authorities under trumped up charges like sedition for their postings on social media or speeches during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was enacted in December 2019. Many journalists are either arrested or threatened, students have also been picked up. Communal poison is being spewed out by the affiliates of the ruling party and a section of corporate media inciting beastly hatred on the basis of religion. Reports indicate that the ruling elite want to organize a blood bath, anarchy and violence because it serves them very well. It wants to split the unity and solidarity of the toiling people, Dalits (the so-called Untouchables), farmers, workers, teachers, office workers, health workers etc. Thrown into unemployment by the pandemic, a majority of workers are walking to their villages, along with their children, because they have no money to buy food or a train ticket. The government is doing a huge public relations exercise to claim it is taking people home on trains while the Air Force showers petals from the skies, with videos on social media portraying this great image of India as "vishav guru" -- teacher of the world.
In Bangladesh, the international trade union federation IndustriALL is calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to immediately address the impact of COVID-19 on workers, and consult unions including IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) on the way forward. IndustriALL reports that:
"Rushing to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, the government declared a general holiday from March 36 to April 5, which was then extended until April 14. With some exceptions, the lockdown was further extended until May 3.
"Confusion ahead of the general shutdown resulted in stress and panic, as large numbers of workers, mostly women, were not paid, thousands laid off and many set off on foot and by dangerous modes of transport to leave Dhaka.
"Despite the lockdown, many factories are now running, exposing workers to infection. There have been protests of workers demanding payment of wages during the lockdown.
"According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) export orders of 982 million pieces, worth US$3.18 billion have been cancelled or suspended, affecting 2.28 million workers in 1,150 factories. As the global action to support the garment industry gets underway, the crisis is getting worse in Bangladesh.
"IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, expressed serious concerns over the health and safety, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 on Bangladeshi workers:
"'No worker in any industry should be laid-off/retrenched/fired during the lockdown period. All workers must be paid in full without any wage deduction and Eid Bonus should be paid by May 15. The government should consult unions and set up a tripartite committee to monitor and assess the situation and recommend steps as needed.
"'The government should ensure that factory owners provide hand sanitizers, soap, and PPEs for workers. In case workers are diagnosed with the coronavirus, their treatment must be done free of cost.'"
In a letter to the European delegation in Dhaka, the IBC underlined, "According to preliminary reports, over 500,000 garment workers will not get any payment due to ongoing unjust lay-offs, which will lead to a massive social crisis.
"'We urged the EU delegation to provide possible support Bangladeshi workers and ensure that no brands, buyers postpone or cancels work order and they clear the dues to their suppliers. In order to avoid the humanitarian crisis, the government, brands and employers have to take shared responsibility to ensure that workers' wages and benefits are paid, jobs are secured and they receive social protection.'' China Rahman, IBC general secretary said.
In Southeast Asia on May 9:
Singapore: 21,707 (19,647 active; 2,040 recovered; 20
deaths) and 3,710 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 17,101 (15,817 active; 1,268 recovered; 16 deaths) and 2,923 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
Indonesia: 13,112 (9,675 active; 2,494 recovered; 943
deaths) and 48 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 10,551 (8,160 active; 1,591 recovered; 800 deaths) and 39 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
Philippines: 10,463 (8,033 active; 1,734 recovered; 696
deaths) and 95 cases per million; 6 deaths per million
- May 2: 8,772 (7,109 active; 1,084 recovered; 579 deaths) and 80 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
Malaysia: 6,535 (1,564 active; 4,864 recovered; 107
deaths) and 202 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 6,071 (1,758 active; 4,210 recovered; 103 deaths) and 188 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
Thailand: 3,000 (161 active; 2,784 recovered; 55
deaths) and 43 cases per million; 0.8 deaths per million
- May 2: 2,960 (187 active; 2,719 recovered; 54 deaths) and 42 cases per million; 0.8 deaths per million
The number of cases in Singapore continues to rise, due to the poor living conditions imposed on its large foreign workforce. John Gee, a former president of Transient Workers Count Too noted in an April 28 article that "The vulnerability of male migrant workers to infection is not primarily due to anything that has happened since the outbreak began, but to a pre-existing condition: the status established for them years before COVID-19 appeared. It was constructed from policies, practices and attitudes that housed male migrant workers in crowded accommodation, kept their wages low and made them dependent on keeping the goodwill of their employers in order to remain employed. The workers tolerated poor conditions of accommodation and transportation and other poor treatment, often including putting up with illness rather than seeking medical attention and time off, as the price to be paid for retaining a job.
"Simply tweaking the existing conditions will not be enough to put this situation right: a little more living space and a few more showers won't fix it. An overhaul of migrant worker policy is long overdue, but now at least, there may be stronger public support for it than ever before and a readiness to accept that, no matter what pleas of cost or inconvenience may be made, there are minimum standards for the treatment of these fellow human beings that must be affirmed, in deeds as well as words."
In Vietnam, with the country going 21 days without any community transmission of COVID-19, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has allowed localities to organize events with large gatherings, including sports events and festivals, in public places, but people are still advised to wear face masks and use hand sanitizers. Most non-essential services can resume, with the exception of karaoke parlours and discos. The relaxation of restrictions comes two weeks after the Prime Minister issued a directive asking localities to stop all religious gatherings, sports events and crowded festivals in public places, and extending the closure of "non-essential" business services. He also lifted the requirement for students to wear face masks while studying in class and physical distancing measures in classrooms. Many schools had been splitting study times into morning and afternoon slots with each class split between two rooms and only one student per table.
The Prime Minister ordered localities to continue implementation of measures to prevent the risk of infections from abroad. All those returning from foreign countries will be placed under quarantine for 14 days. The suspension of the entry for foreign nationals in place since March 22 remains in effect -- only those with diplomatic or official passports, or coming for special economic projects, are allowed to enter the country under strict medical surveillance.
As of May 7, Vietnam resumed local transportation and lifted all social distancing restrictions on buses, taxis, aircraft and trains. But all passengers are still requested to wear face masks.
Vietnam's main focus now will be to rebuild its economy. "Speeding up economic recovery and building the country is an important priority task which needs to be focused on at all levels without ignoring anti-pandemic measures," the Prime Minister said.
He asked localities and relevant agencies to help remove obstacles for businesses and speed up financial support for poor people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government passed a VND62 trillion ($2.6 billion) financial support package to support 20 million poor people and those hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Of the package, VND12.4 trillion ($530.7 million) has been disbursed.
As of May 9, Vietnam reported a total of 288 cases, with 241 recovered, 47 active cases and no deaths.
In East Asia on May 9:
China: 82,886 (260 active; 77,993 recovered; 4,633
deaths) and 58 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 82,874 (599 active; 77,642 recovered; 4,633 deaths) and 58 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
Japan: 15,575 (9,839 active; 5,146 recovered; 590
deaths) and 123 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 2: 14,305 (10,875 active; 2,975 recovered; 455 deaths) and 113 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
South Korea: 10,822 (1,082 active; 9,484 recovered; 256
deaths) and 211 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 2: 10,774 (1,454 active; 9,072 recovered; 248 deaths) and 210 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
Taiwan: 440 (79 active; 355 recovered; 6 deaths) and 18
cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
- May 2: 429 (99 active; 324 recovered; 6 deaths) and 18 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
In North America on May 9:
USA: 1,318,686 (1,018,180 active; 222,008 recovered;
78,498 deaths) and 3,984 cases per million; 237 deaths per
- May 2: 1,131,030 (903,714 active; 161,563 recovered; 65,753 deaths) and 3,417 cases per million; 199 deaths per million
Canada: 66,326 (31,811 active; 29,948 recovered; 4,567
deaths) and 1,757 cases per million; 121 deaths per million
- May 2: 55,061 (28,919 active; 22,751 recovered; 3,391 deaths) and 1,459 cases per million; 90 deaths per million
Mexico: 29,616 (8,874 active; 17,781 recovered; 2,961
deaths) and 230 cases per million; 23 deaths per million
- May 2: 19,224 (5,942 active; 11,423 recovered; 1,859 deaths) and 149 cases per million; 14 deaths per million
The political crisis in the U.S. -- a failed state whose ruling elite cannot govern with legitimacy nor provide for the needs of its people -- continues to exacerbate the pandemic situation there. The crisis of legitimacy and credibility of the whole status quo has deepened with the President publicly suggesting people can drink and inject themselves with household disinfectants. People are looking for solutions for the problems they face, based on the foundation of affirming the rights of all.
While patting himself on the back for doing a "great job," President Trump admitted in a May 3 interview that the total number of deaths in the U.S. due to the pandemic could surpass 100,000. Meanwhile, the disinformation, deception and fraud of the ruling elite continues. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that the government has "overwhelming evidence" that the COVID-19 virus was made in a lab in Wuhan, China. They do not want the people in the U.S. to look at their own economic system, political process and inhuman conditions which are forced on them. Just like before the 2016 presidential election when the Republican Party blamed China for unemployment and immigrants for joblessness, it has instructed members and supporters not to defend Trump for the hundreds of lies he tells, but to go after China. Trump is suggesting that he may slap tariffs on China and Republicans are saying that the administration may not honour the more than $3 trillion debt that the Chinese are holding in the form of Treasury Bills and other debt instruments.
Workers in meat processing plants that have been opened by Trump's April 28 executive order, are calling on people to join a campaign for Meatless Mondays to highlight the dangerous working conditions, where they have to work without personal protective equipment. As of May 1, there were COVID-19 outbreaks in at least 115 plants in 19 states, with 4,913 workers made sick and 20 deaths, figures that are considered conservative due to some plants not providing information.
One of the CEOs of these meat companies has blamed the workers and their "culture" for the spread of the virus. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bringing in legislation so that the corporations cannot be held liable for violations of safety regulations at the place of work. The corporations are using the cover of the pandemic to wipe out legal recourse for their egregious conduct and lack of standards. This is the ugly reality of the liberal democratic institutions that the ideologues of the monopolies sing hosannas to.
In Central America and the Caribbean on May 9:
Dominican Republic: 9,376 (6,710 active; 2,286
recovered; 380 deaths) and 864 cases per million; 35 and deaths
- May 2: 7,288 (5,588 active; 1,387 recovered; 313 deaths) and 672 cases per million; 29 deaths per million
Panama: 7,868 (6,757 active; 886 recovered; 225 deaths)
and 1,824 cases per million; 52 deaths per million
- May 2: 6,532 (5,768 active; 576 recovered; 188 deaths) and 1,514 cases per million; 44 deaths per million
Cuba: 1,741 (589 active; 1,078 recovered; 74 deaths)
and 154 cases per million; 7 deaths per million
- May 2: 1,537 (759 active; 714 recovered; 64 deaths) and 136 cases per million; 6 deaths per million
Honduras: 1,685 (1,426 active; 154 recovered; 105
deaths) and 170 cases per million; 11 deaths per million
- May 2: 804 (617 active; 112 recovered; 75 deaths) and 81 cases per million; 8 deaths per million
Guatemala: 832 (719 active; 90 recovered; 23 deaths)
and 46 cases per million; 1 death per million
- May 2: 644 (556 active; 72 recovered; 16 deaths)
In South America on May 9:
Brazil: 145,328 (80,081 active; 55,350 recovered; 9,897
deaths) and 684 cases per million; 47 deaths per million
- May 2: 92,109 (47,660 active; 38,039 recovered; 6,410 deaths) and 433 cases per million; 30 deaths per million
Peru: 61,847 (41,121 active; 19,012 recovered; 1,714
deaths) and 1,876 cases per million; 52 deaths per million
- May 2: 40,459 (28,206 active; 11,129 recovered; 1,124 deaths) and 1,227 cases per million; 34 deaths per million
Ecuador: 30,298 (25,211 active; 3,433 recovered; 1,654
deaths) and 1,717 cases per million; 94 deaths per million
- May 2: 26,336 (23,360 active; 1,913 recovered; 1,063 deaths) and 1,493 cases per million; 60 deaths per million
Chile: 25,972 (13,518 active; 12,160 recovered; 294
deaths) and 1,359 cases per million; 15 deaths per million
- May 2: 17,008 (7,756 active; 9,018 recovered; 234 deaths) and 890 cases per million; 12 deaths per million
Colombia: 9,456 (6,749 active; 2,300 recovered; 407
deaths) and 186 cases per million; 8 deaths per million
- May 2: 7,006 (5,141 active; 1,551 recovered; 314 deaths) and 138 cases per million; 6 deaths per million
In Brazil, the self-serving actions and corruption of the Bolsonaro government are the main factor in the worsening pandemic situation, where the daily rate of new infections and daily deaths continues to rise sharply. President Jair Bolsonaro continues to reiterate his rejection of the social distancing and self-isolation to contain the pandemic. Many specialists believe that the total number of people infected by COVID-19 could be 15 times higher than reported by the authorities because only serious cases are being tested.
On March 18, an impeachment request was filed against Bolsonaro by legislators of the Socialism and Liberty Party, asserting the president was not following the necessary health procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, making the Brazilian population more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The impeachment request came two days after the president took part in a rally calling for the closure of the House of Representatives and the return of military rule. The impeachment request has been signed by more than one million people so far. In April, Bolsonaro fired the Health Minister for following World Health Organization guidelines to stop the pandemic, and is also accused of undermining attempts by governors and municipal authorities to implement social distancing measures.
On May 1, in a video posted on social media, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the post coronavirus pandemic world needs to transform the social relations in Brazil.
"History teaches us that huge tragedies tend to give birth to huge transformations. What we hope for, what I hope for, is that the world that comes after the coronavirus will be a universal community in which men and women, in harmony with nature are at the centre of it, with technology and economics working for them and not the other way around, as has happened till today. In the post coronavirus pandemic world that I hope for, let the collective will triumph over the individual and let generosity and solidarity triumph over profit."
Lula pointed to capitalism as responsible for the crisis and highlighted that it is the workers who guarantee global production. "Three hundred thousand cadavers were necessary for humanity to see the truth that we, the workers, have known since we were born. The coronavirus tragedy has shed light on an immutable truth: what sustains capitalism is not capital. It is us, the workers. It is this truth, long known to us, that is leading the major economic publications in the world, the Bibles of the global elite, to claim that capitalism's days are numbered. It surely does. It is moribund. Now the task of constructing the new world to come is in our hands, the hands of workers."
When referring to Jair Bolsonaro, Lula suggested that great tragedies reveal "the true nature of people and things," adding that "I am not only referring to the president's trivialization of the memory of more than 5,000 Brazilians who have died from Covid. The pandemic has left capitalism naked."
The former president also spoke of the importance of solidarity within the working class at this moment in time. "Brazil has always been a land of hope. Regardless of the extreme difficulties, we that were born and grew up here know how to face them, and how to reinvent ourselves in order to grow. Hate and ignorance feed off each other and are the opposite of what's inside the Brazilian soul. As a Brazilian, I am certain we will overcome this tragedy and enter a better world, a better Brazil. It is now, in the middle of the storm that Brazilians are showing who they really are, what we are: generous, tolerant and full of solidarity. It is with this spirit, this joy and this creativity that we are fighting to leave the darkness and bring about, as quickly as possible, the dawn of social justice, of equality and freedom."
Although the forecasts for employment in Latin America and the Caribbean were not good before the spread of COVID-19, after the advent of the pandemic they only worsened.
"We are facing a massive destruction of jobs, and this poses a challenge of unprecedented magnitudes in the labor markets of Latin America and the Caribbean," the Regional Director of the ILO Vinicius Pinheiro said. "From now on we know that at the same time that the health emergency is overcome, we will have to face a true reconstruction of our labor markets."
The catastrophic impact of the pandemic on the region, according to the ILO, would entail the loss of at least 14 million full-time workers, a figure that reflects both the redundancies and the temporary reduction in working hours.
The so-called informal labour market is a problem in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are at least 140 million people in the region working "informally," representing about 54 per cent of workers, who lack recognized, registered, regulated or protected jobs under labour legislation and social protection. Now all those people face even worse conditions with the crisis.
"Among workers in the informal economy significantly affected by the crisis," the ILO says, "women are over-represented in high-risk sectors: 42 percent of women workers work in these sectors, compared to 32 percent of men."
According to the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Barcena, the COVID-19 crisis could increase the number of poor in the region to 220 million, while the number of people living in extreme poverty could reach 90 million.
For its part, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that while thousands are losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 measures, it is expected that hunger and poverty will increase in the region that already had food security problems.
In Africa on May 9:
South Africa: 8,895 (5,564 active; 3,153 recovered; 178
deaths) and 150 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 2: 5,951 (3,453 active; 2,382 recovered; 116 deaths) and 100 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
Egypt: 8,476 (6,028 active; 1,945 recovered; 503
deaths) and 83 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 2: 5,895 (4,029 active; 1,460 recovered; 406 deaths) and 58 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
Morocco: 5,711 (3,201 active; 2,324 recovered; 186
deaths) and 155 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 2: 4,569 (3,315 active; 1,083 recovered; 171 deaths) and 124 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
Algeria: 5,369 (2,414 active; 2,467 recovered; 488
and 122 cases per million; 11 deaths per million
- May 2: 4,154 (1,880 active; 1,821 recovered; 453 deaths) and 95 cases per million; 10 deaths per million
Ghana: 4,012 (3,671 active; 323 recovered; 18 deaths)
and 129 cases per million; 0.6 deaths per million
- May 2: 2,169 (1,922 active; 229 recovered; 18 deaths)
As of May 9, the African continent as a whole has reported 58,528 total cases. The COVID-19 pandemic could "smoulder" in Africa for several years after killing as many as 190,000 people in the coming 12 months, the World Health Organization has said, based on research in 47 countries in the WHO African Region with a total population of one billion.
The WHO warned last month that there could be 10 million infections on the continent within six months, though experts said the pandemic's impact would depend on governments' actions.
A study released by the organisation this week predicts that between 29 million to 44 million people could become infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail. This "would overwhelm the available medical capacity in much of Africa" where there are only nine intensive care unit beds per million people.
"While COVID-19 likely won't spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots," said the director of the World Health Organization's Africa region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said on May 7. "COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat."
"Overall ... we are looking at community spread in some countries ... We are estimating that this will peak in four to six weeks if nothing is done," Moeti told reporters.
Most countries have imposed lockdowns of varying severity that appear to have slowed the spread of the virus.
"We have to recognise that African governments are doing a lot," said Stephen Karingi, a director at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. "Projections were that we would be in a war situation by now, but because of the measures taken by governments and communities, transmission rates are lower than we've seen elsewhere."
In Oceania on May 9:
Australia: 6,914 (738 active; 6,079 recovered; 97 deaths) and 271 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 2: 6,767 (929 active; 5,745 recovered; 93 deaths) and 265 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
New Zealand: 1,490 (122 active; 1,347 recovered; 21
deaths) and 309 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 2: 1,479 (208 active; 1,252 recovered; 19 deaths) and 307 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 2: 142 (5 deaths)
French Polynesia: 60 (4 active; 56 recovered) and 214
cases per million
- May 2: 58 (7 active; 51 recovered) and 206 cases per million
New Caledonia: 18 (1 active; 17 recovered)
- May 2: 18 (1 active; 17 recovered)
(With files from UN organizations, the ILO, USA Today, Vietnam Express, Brasil de Fato, teleSUR, The Peninsula, Transient Workers Count Too, The Wire and agencies)
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