In South America Peru’s Food and Fuel shortages exacerbated by anti-government Protests

Revelations 18:23:’For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • Peru faces shortage of food and fuel as anti-government protests continue
  • As the anti-government protests in Peru show no sign of ending, the country is currently facing a shortage of basic products including food items and fuel. A report by the news agency AFP on Wednesday (January 25) said that dozens of roadblocks, where demonstrations have been the most intense, are hindering freight deliveries to Peru’s south.
  • In Puno city, the prices of basic food items including tomatoes and potatoes have tripled
  • Meanwhile, the Madre de Dios region, which is on Peru’s border with Brazil and Bolivia, has reported shortages in fuel and food after protesters blocked the major Interoceanica Sur highway.
  • Anti-government protests: 46 killed in clashes, President calls for national truce

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Protests in Peru over High Fuel Prices and Fertilizer

Revelations 18:23:’For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • Peruvian truckers, farmers block roads in protests over fuel, fertilizer
  • Peruvian farmers and truck drivers staged at least 14 roadblocks as part of ongoing protests over high gas prices and fertilizer shortages, hitting the trade and tourism sectors in the South American nation.
  • Farmers and truckers are feeling the impact of the war in Ukraine, which has pushed prices of fuel and fertilizer higher around the world. Peru also is struggling with its highest inflation rate since the end of the last century.
  • Government representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries about the protests.

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7.2 earthquake hit Peru

Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Strong quake shakes southern Peru, but no report of victims
  • The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 7.2 earthquake has shaken southern Peru, though there are no immediate reports of damage or injury
  • The quake swayed some buildings in La Paz, the capital of neighboring Bolivia, where people fled into the streets. It was also felt in Peruvian cities such as Arequipa, Tacna and Cusco, as well as in northern Chile, but local authorities and radio stations had no reports of damage or victims.

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Prices of Food and Fuel have people protesting in Peru

Rev 6:6 NAS And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Peru president imposes curfew in Lima, Callao after protests
  • Protests had erupted across Peru in recent days due to a hike in fuel prices and tolls, during a time of rising food prices.
  • “In view of the acts of violence that some groups have wanted to create… and in order to reestablish peace… the Council of Ministers has approved the declaration of citizen immobility (curfew) from 2:00 am to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 5,” he said in a televised message.
  • Castillo’s action to impose movement restrictions — which will cover more than 10 million residents in Lima and Callao — was met with immediate repudiation.
  • “It is like putting an end to traffic accidents by taking vehicles off the roads.”
  • The country’s Consumer Price Index in March saw its highest monthly increase in 26 years, driven by soaring food, transport and education prices, according to the national statistics institute.

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Twenty Latin American Countries Have Joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Important Takeaways:

  • While the US Wasn’t Looking, China Became the Dominant Power in Latin America, Right on Our Doorstep
  • Latin America took on a new trading partner: China. The region has also begun to shift in an anti-American direction, creating a big strategic problem for the United States.
  • Evan Ellis, a Latin American expert at the U.S. Army War College, Twenty Latin American nations have joined China’s Belt and Road initiative, in which China invests in a nation’s infrastructure, like the new container port China is building for Peru at the Port of Chancay.
  • China will also be supplying nations with civilian nuclear technology, helping them develop space programs, and providing them with Chinese 5G technology that experts have warned is a surveillance tool of the Chinese military.
  • China is establishing a growing number of Confucius Institutes in the region, which are school programs that teach young people Chinese language and culture and push Chinese government propaganda.
  • Ellis said China is also cultivating military ties here which it could use in any future conflict with the United States.
  • “If war ever broke out over Taiwan, they would probably not make it a war that was fought just in Asia, but they would have ways of thinking about how to use operations in the hemisphere,” Ellis warned. “It’s entirely possible that there would be certain anti-US states in the region that might welcome China in.”

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Peru’s new Marxist PM says ‘don’t worry’ as chances of radical policy shift rise

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) -Peru’s newly appointed hard-left prime minister sought to soothe worried markets on Friday after President Pedro Castillo named members of his Marxist Free Peru party to key cabinet posts, sending both bond markets and the country’s currency tumbling.

Guido Bellido, a hardliner from the Andean city of Cuzco who is little known in Lima circles, was named prime minister on Thursday, scuttling investor hopes that Castillo would choose moderate advisers and sending an immediate chill through markets.

Castillo also tapped Ivan Merino, a little known mining specialist close to Free Peru, to oversee the sprawling metals industry in the world’s No.2 copper producer. Castillo, a self-described Marxist-Leninist, campaigned on promises to hike taxes on miners to underwrite health and education reforms.

Markets remained on edge throughout the day Friday as investors anxiously awaited Castillo’s choice for the key finance minister position. Most of the rest of the cabinet had been sworn in on Thursday.

“Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine,” Bellido said in brief comments to reporters early in the day.

Investors were not reassured. The local sol currency fell 3.6% to an all-time closing low of 4.068 to the dollar. Peruvian sovereign bonds plunged and the country’s benchmark stock index was also on track to close at its lowest since November.

Castillo, inaugurated on Wednesday, took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday to defend his new government.

“Our cabinet belongs to the people. It answers to the people,” Castillo wrote.

“Our commitment is to Peru and to no other interest than to dedicate each and every one of our efforts to build a more just, free and dignified country. We will not disappoint your trust.”

Investors are growing wary about Peru’s prospects under Castillo, who won last month’s election against conservative Keiko Fujimori by a razor-thin margin. After a campaign in which his pledges to distribute wealth more evenly had spooked investors but won him votes from Peru’s rural poor, he had in recent weeks appeared to take a more moderate tack.

Political wrangling between the radical leftwing arm of his Free Peru party and more centrist allies followed his win. Sources close to Castillo before his swearing-in had said the economy minister role would likely go to Pedro Francke, a moderate left-leaning economist who had helped soften the outsider candidate’s image.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Hugh Bronstein and Dave Sherwood,Editing by Marguerita Choy and Rosalba O’Brien)

COVID-19 surging dangerously in Brazil, WHO Americas branch warns

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The coronavirus is surging “dangerously” across Brazil, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for the Americas, Carissa Etienne, warned on Tuesday, urging all Brazilians to adopt preventive measures to stop the spread.

“Unfortunately, the dire situation in Brazil is also affecting neighboring countries,” Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said in a briefing.

Cases have risen in Venezuela’s Bolivar and Amazonas states, and in border regions of Peru and Bolivia, she said.

“The COVID-19 virus is not receding, nor is the pandemic starting to go away,” Etienne said.

In the Southern Cone, cases continue to spike in Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to PAHO.

In Paraguay, a majority of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied, and the health system is buckling under the pressure. Uruguay has reported more than 1,000 cases per day several times in the past few weeks, an alarming number given the size of the country.

In Central America, cases have declined in Panama, but in Guatemala the rise in hospitalizations is straining ICU bed capacity.

“Vaccines are coming but they are still several months away for most people in our region.” Etienne said.

The COVAX facility led by WHO and the Gavi coalition to provide equitable access to vaccines has delivered 2,161,800 doses to the region so far, including more than 1 million doses to Brazil last weekend.

PAHO expects over 100,000 vaccine doses to be delivered this week to El Salvador, Belize and Suriname, and 1.2 million additional doses have already been procured.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

AstraZeneca vaccine safe and effective in new trial data

FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in Chile, Peru and the United States, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for U.S. approval.

The vaccine was also 100% effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalization, and was safe, the partners said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups.

The data will give credence to the British shot after results from earlier, separate late-stage studies raised questions about the robustness of the data.

It will also help to allay safety concerns that have disrupted its use in the European Union after a small number of reports of rare blood clots in people who received the vaccine.

After briefly halting its use, many European countries have resumed using the shot in their inoculation programs after a regional regulator said it was safe, while several country leaders are also taking the vaccine to boost confidence.

AstraZeneca said an independent safety committee conducted a specific review of the blood clots in the U.S. trial, as well as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), which is an extremely rare blood clot in the brain, with the help of an independent neurologist.

The London-listed company said the panel found “no increased risk of thrombosis or events characterized by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. The specific search for CVST found no events in this trial.”

“These results are great news as they show the remarkable efficacy of the vaccine in a new population and are consistent with the results from Oxford-led trials,” Andrew Pollard, who runs the Oxford Vaccine Group, said.

AstraZeneca said it was preparing to submit the data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for a launch in the United States should it win Emergency Use Authorization.

University of Oxford professor Sarah Gilbert told BBC radio that work to prepare the submission will take a few weeks.

The efficacy read-out was above a rate of about 60%, cited by the European Union’s drugs regulator in its December recommendation.

It was, however, in line with the maximum efficacy found by Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), based on cases with a three-month gap between the first and the second dose.

In the trial, participants received either two standard doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or a placebo vaccine, at a four-week interval.

Amongst participants in the interim analysis, about 79% were white/Caucasian, 8% black/African American, 4% native American and 4% Asian, and 22% of participants were Hispanic, the company said.

About 20% of participants were 65 years and over, and approximately 60% had co-morbidities associated with an increased risk for progression of severe COVID-19, such as diabetes, severe obesity or cardiac disease.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Pushkala Aripaka and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Josephine Mason, Mark Potter, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Edmund Blair)

Peru, with world’s deadliest outbreak, readies to start vaccine tests

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru will start testing coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinopharm and U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in September, researchers said, which should help the country gain faster access to inoculations once the vaccines are approved.

Sinopharm began this week to recruit up to 6,000 volunteers in Peru, which Reuters data indicates has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in relation to its population size. A team of Chinese scientists is expected to arrive in the Andean nation next week to work with local researchers, said Germán Málaga, a doctor and lead vaccine investigator at Lima’s Cayetano Heredia University.

“This is going to happen around Sept. 3, to begin vaccinations on Sept. 8,” he said. Sinopharm’s clinical trials in Peru are being done with Cayetano Heredia and the state-run Universidad Mayor de San Marcos.

Peru has recorded around 622,000 cases of the coronavirus, the fifth highest case load in the world, and 28,277 deaths. It now has the world’s deadliest fatality rate per capita, with 86.67 deaths per 100,000 people, a Reuters tally shows, just ahead of Belgium.

Sinopharm will also do clinical coronavirus vaccine trials elsewhere in Latin America, including in Argentina.

Other Chinese laboratories that will be conducting trials in the region include Sinovac Biotech, which will work in Brazil and Chile, and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd and CanSino Biologics Inc, which will test in Mexico, authorities have said.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit will start tests with some 4,000 volunteers in Peru around Sept. 24, Prime Minister Walter Martos told reporters on Thursday.

“We are contacting other companies, laboratories, from Britain and other countries that are going to help us immunize at least 70% of the local population,” Martos said.

J&J said earlier this week that it would conduct Phase III trials for its vaccine in Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Peru, a country of nearly 33 million people and the world’s no. 2 copper producer, has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, both in terms of infections and economic impact. The economy crumbled over 30% in the second quarter of the year.

The death toll could also be higher than official figures suggest. A national registry shows that between April and August there were 68,192 more deaths compared to the same period in 2019. Excess deaths often give a better indication of the true number of fatalities.

Researcher Málaga and Carlos Castillo, the chief adviser for immunizations and vaccines at Peru’s health ministry, said that carrying out clinical trials would help Peru get faster access to vaccines when they were ready.

“There is an unwritten agreement, in the sense that in the country where a clinical trial is being carried out, it has priority access to vaccine availability,” Castillo said.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Reuters TV; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Rosalba O’Brien)

Venezuelans entering Ecuador illegally receive help to reach Peru

Venezuelan migrant Plaza Pernia family hug as they arrive from the northern city of Tumbes, border with Ecuador, to the bus terminal in Lima, Peru August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

QUITO (Reuters) – Some 250 Venezuelans who illegally entered Ecuador to join tens of thousands fleeing a crisis at home have won safe passage to the Peruvian border, a few days before Peru’s government tightens its migration requirements.

Ecuadorean authorities said on Wednesday they had dispatched buses to take the migrants 840km from the Andean country’s northern border with Colombia to the Huaquillas coastal crossing with Peru.

This year 423,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Rumichaca border, many planning to continue south to find work in Peru. Alarmed, Ecuador last Saturday put in place rules requiring Venezuelans to show passports, rather than just national identity cards. Peru will do the same beginning on Saturday.

Hundreds of migrants who began traveling days ago by bus and on foot through Colombia from Venezuela before the policy change crossed the Rumichaca checkpoint on Tuesday. They set out to walk and hitchhike, often in freezing conditions, to Huaquilla.

Maly Aviles, a 26-year-old Venezuelan, spent days on the Ecuador-Colombia border waiting with friends for a solution before the buses arrived.

“There is no way back. To return to Venezuela is suicidal,” she said.

Venezuela’s economy has been in steep decline and there are periodic waves of protests against the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro argues that he is the victim of a Washington-led “economic war” designed to sabotage his administration through sanctions and price-gouging.

The chaos has forced many to flood across the borders in search of work, food, and basic healthcare. This has stretched social services, created more competition for low-skilled jobs and stoked fears of increased crime.

The governor of Ecuador’s northern Pichincha province said more transfers would be organized for Venezuelans in the coming days.

“The Venezuelans have taken the decision to head for Peru and in Ecuador we must guarantee their rights. It’s a humanitarian crisis,” he told a local radio station.

(Reporting by Daniel Tapia; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Leslie Adler)