Things That Matter

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide-ranging measures meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the country. They banned all international travel – even of its own citizens – and instituted nation-wide curfews that limit the times and amount of people that can go into markets, pharmacies and other essential services.

However, like many places, not all people have adhered to the restrictions and Colombia is seeing a surge in cases. In places where the government has failed to protect its citizens, local cartels are now stepping onto the scene and enforcing their own much more severe rules and lockdown orders. For those who don’t respect the new rules, they risk severe consequences – including death – at the hands of cartel members.

Colombian cartels are executing those who break their Coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Colombia, heavily armed cartels have introduced their own Coronavirus lockdown measures and “justice” system for those who break quarantine orders. To date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). José Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director, said the shocking developments are down to the failure to keep control over swathes of Colombia after decades of in-fighting.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations.”

Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were among those said to be responsible.

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

The cartels curfew orders are even more strict than those imposed by the actual local governments.

Credit: Juan Barreto / Getty Images

At the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide ranging lockdown measures. Since March, the entire country has been under lockdown, which includes curfew hours with allowances for people to leave their houses for necessities and in a medical emergency. But the cartels have reportedly implemented more stringent and sometimes lethal measures across 11 of the country’s 32 states.

HRW’s report tells how in the port city of Tumaco – where local residents are banned by gangs from fishing – cartels are limiting their ability to earn money and food. They have also imposed a 5pm curfew on citizens – far stricter than that imposed by the state. 

In the provinces of Cauca and Guaviare armed groups torched motorcycles belonging to those who they claimed ignored their lockdown measures.

Cartels distributed pamphlets about the restrictions, warning that they are ‘forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.

Credit: Luis Robayo / Getty Images

The cartels are informing residents of the lockdown orders and that armed fighters would kill anyone who disobeyed them. Cartel groups handed out pamphlets and communicated with communities through WhatsApp to establish curfews, lockdowns and restrictions on movement for people, cars, and boats, according to the report from HRW.

COVID-19 instructions also included limits on opening days and hours for shops as well as bans on access to communities for foreigners and people from other communities.

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses.”

The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across Colombia and elsewhere in South America.

Like much of South America, Colombia is bracing for the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 6, medical authorities have confirmed 159,898 cases, with 5,625 deaths. Cases regularly climb by over 5,000 a day.

Meanwhile, nearby countries in the region – including Ecuador and Brazil – are the region’s epicenter for the pandemic. It’s only a question of time until the worst of the outbreak arrives in Colombia.

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Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Things That Matter

Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Chris Bouroncle / Getty Images

Earlier this month, Peru’s Congress moved to initiate impeachment proceedings against the country’s president over his alleged involvement with a singer involved in a fraud case. However, Peru’s struggle to contain the Coroanvirus outbreak also became a focal point of the impeachment proceedings.

Although, President Martín Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote this week, his country is still spiraling out of control in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic. Peru now has one of the world’s highest mortality rates, made worse by political strife and Peruvians are wondering where the country goes next amid all the turmoil.

Peru’s President survived his impeachment trial but he still faces serious hurdles in the road ahead.

What started out as an alleged fraud and corruption case, devolved into a sort of referendum on Vizcarra’s handling of the country’s failed Coronavirus response. The Coronavirus tragedy has fueled political insurrection. On Sept. 18, an opportunistic legislature tried to oust the president, who has been dogged by accusations of misusing public funds and then covering up the scandal.

However, the revolt fell flat. Just 32 lawmakers voted to remove Vizcarra, glaringly short of the 87-vote impeachment threshold, which is a good thing. Regime change on top of a public health hecatomb might have pushed the afflicted nation that much closer to collapse.

The decision came after long hours of debate in which legislators blasted Vizcarra but also questioned whether a rushed impeachment process would only create more turmoil in the middle of a health and economic crisis.

“It’s not the moment to proceed with an impeachment which would add even more problems to the tragedy we are living,” lawmaker Francisco Sagasti said.

The original impeachment case stemmed from his alleged involvement with a singer who faced serious charges of fraud.

President Vizcarra faced the challenge to his leadership after the Congress approved a motion to start impeachment proceedings against him over leaked audio tapes and alleged ties to a singer involved in a fraud case.

Lawmakers in Peru’s Congress, a mosaic of parties from the left and right with no overall majority, heard recordings of two private conversations between Vizcarra and government officials about meetings with Richard Cisneros, a little-known singer.

Vizcarra told reporters that the new challenge represented “a plot to destabilise the government.” “I am not going to resign,” he said. “I have a commitment to Peru and I will fulfill it until the last day of my mandate.”

Presidential elections are due to be held next year and Vizcarra has already said he will not run again.

But given Peru’s failed Covid-19 response, the president also faces serious doubts in his abilities to bring the country back from the brink.

Latin America has been devastated by the pandemic and it’s only been exacerbated by the total obliteration of growing wealth across the region – as millions are left out of work. The pandemic has largely undone decades of hard work that helped pull millions of Latin Americans out of poverty.

And Peru once the showpiece of Latin American economies — growing at a pacesetting 6.1% a year between 2002 and 2013 and lifting 6.4 million out of poverty — the country saw gross domestic product fall 30% in the second quarter, and is likely to finish the year aound 17% poorer before rebounding next year, according to Bloomberg Economics. Despite generous aid to the poor and strict social distancing rules that drew international praise, the Andean country has been burdened by the pandemic with one of the world’s highest mortality rates.

The possibility of a president being impeached amid the pandemic, had many in the U.S. wondering if we could do the same.

In the U.S., Donald Trump has left much of the country to fend for itself as the pandemic ravages state after state. There has been little in the way of a national plan for how to overcome the outbreak. In fact, many lies about the virus, treatment, and contagion have come directly from the president himself.

He’s even instructed the CDC to stop sharing pandemic-related information with the public, and instead to send all data directly to the White House.

Donald Trump and his administration have sowed division and false information that has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans and months of on and off again quarantine orders that seem to have no end in sight. With policies like this, it’s no surprise that some are seriously considering a second impeachment trial.

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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