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Coronavirus: In Mexico, left-wing presidents cut spending

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Coronavirus: In Mexico, left-wing presidents cut spending

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is one of the most powerful left-wingers in the world – a long-time champion of the poor who delivered harsh charges against neoliberalism and the global elite.

But his approach to government spending – even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic collapse – may be better than the conservative icons Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

López Obrador has abolished all government departments, cut officials’ salaries and canceled year-end bonuses. Cost-cutting measures come on top of steep cuts imposed from the start in his administration that targets everything from the country’s Olympic training program to public hospitals.

At the same time, López Obrador has rejected bailouts, tax breaks and debt relief, making Mexico the only major country in the Western Hemisphere that has not yet announced an economic stimulus package to counter the economic impact of the pandemic.

“We have to look for savings and only consume what we need,” he told a press conference Wednesday where he urged Mexicans to save their money. “If we already have shoes, why buy more?”

Indigenous protestors gathered in front of the National Palace in Mexico City this week to ask for more government help.

(Associated Press)

Economists across the ideological spectrum warn that austerity in the midst of a crisis pushes the nation towards disaster.

The economy is expected to shrink at least 7% this year – hammered by a deadly combination of falling oil prices, reduced demand for manufactured goods, less money transfers and a collapse in the tourism industry.

In March and April alone, Mexico lost more than 700,000 jobs in the formal economy. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that at the end of the year 2 million more people will lose their jobs.

The National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy predicts the crisis could push as many as 10.7 million people – around 8.5% of the population – into extreme poverty, which is defined as having a monthly income of less than $ 67 in cities or $ 60 in regions the countryside.

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Recent Catholic leaders urgent the president to divert money from some of his favorite infrastructure projects – including the construction of a $ 8 billion oil refinery – to provide cash payments to families, warning that in a country without unemployment insurance, many are already starving.

Some presidential policymakers themselves have pushed for stimulus measures. Gerardo Esquivel, a left-wing academic nominated by López Obrador to the central bank’s board, has called for a new spending program that will provide checks to unemployed people and tax breaks for small businesses.

Nearly all economists agree that the government should run a budget deficit during a recession, Finance Minister Arturo Herrera Gutiérrez wrote in a policy document late last year.

López Obrador has held fast.

Although he campaigned with promises to help lift the poor out of poverty, he also vowed to drastically cut government spending, waste, and corruption.

Much of his popular appeal comes from the savings he practices in his own life. He had avoided the presidential palace for the sake of a simple apartment in the building where he worked and only flew with commercial airlines – and always with coaches.

López Obrador also seems to be guided by haunting memories of past economic disasters, including a government bailout of banks after the fall of the 1994 currency, where taxpayers were stuck covering up bad loans given to friends and family members of bank executives.

“Throughout his political career he has spoken out against this,” said Genaro Lozano, a political scientist at Iberoamerica University in Mexico City. “One of the reasons he got to the presidency relates to the fact that people are very angry about using public money for frivolity.”

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the rally at the campaign.

Instead of going through economic stimulus measures, López Obrador took what he considered a more direct approach to solving the financial crisis: pushing to reopen the economy.

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On Wednesday, nearly two months after he ordered a halt to all unnecessary trade, he said businesses and schools in hundreds of countries where coronavirus infections had not been reported could be reopened starting May 18, with the rest of the economy gradually starting to return on June 1.

He also said he had given the green light to the three main industries to be resumed next week – construction, mining and manufacturing of cars and auto parts. “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Lopez Obrador.

Later that day, Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the car, construction and mining industries would not actually be allowed to reopen until June 1.

News of the factory reopening was welcomed by many US businesses that depend on cross-border trade and have lobbied to lift restrictions, said Michael Camuñez, president of consulting firm Monarch Global Strategies and former assistant secretary of the US Department of Commerce.

The economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States are increasingly integrated, but each country has issued its own guidelines on which businesses can continue to operate and which should be closed.

“That creates a lot of heartburn on both sides of the border,” said Camuñez.

But others worry that Mexico is moving too fast, increasing the risk for another wave of transmission.

The governor of the state of Puebla, which is home to a large Volkswagen factory and dozens of parts manufacturers that supply it, criticized the decision by federal officials, saying it would erase the hard-earned profits after weeks of keeping social distance.

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“They will ruin everything,” said Governor Miguel Barbosa, who is a member of Morena López Obrador’s party. “And we are talking about this happening in the midst of the most critical pandemic moment.”

On Tuesday, Mexico recorded 353 deaths from the new corona virus – the highest number in a day – and on Wednesday it confirmed a total of 4,220 deaths. Authorities say the actual number of deaths is almost certainly higher because relatively few COVID-19 tests have been carried out.

At the end of April, Mexico had conducted only 0.4 tests for every 1,000 residents, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s the lowest level among 37 organization countries and about 1/40 level in the United States.

“Considering what is not reported … returning to normal activities in two or three weeks seems impossible,” political analyst Ezra Shabot wrote on Twitter. Others cite recent outbreaks in factories along the northern border where some work deemed important continues.

Jose Carlos Moreno-Brid, an economist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the pressure to lift restrictions is very high because only 20% of Mexican workers do work that can be done at home.

“We must reopen the economy at some point,” he said. “But I’m not sure now is the time.”

Moreno-Brid chose López Obrador in 2018, moved by his offer to the poor and his promise to fight corruption. But he said he had lost confidence in the president, partly because of a stubborn refusal to increase spending.

“The main lesson from the Great Depression is that the government should not follow the austerity during difficult times,” he said. “All savings are made to extend the recession.

“His discourse is very good,” Moreno-Brid said of the president. “But the real way is a disaster.”

Cecilia Sánchez at The Times ’Bureau of Mexico City contributed to this report.

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Prize for the Portuguese. Andre Silva is Champions League Player of the Week

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Prize for the Portuguese.  Andre Silva is Champions League Player of the Week

BUTndre Silva won the competition and became the best player of the week in the Champions League, informed UEFAthis Thursday.

The former Porto striker scored in Jota’s 3-1 victory over Celtic Leipzig, scoring a brace in a match that was signed after his Portuguese compatriot equalized.

In addition, Andre Silva also provided the assist for Nkunku, scoring the first goal of this Wednesday’s game in which huge show of foreign fans.

In addition to the Leipzig striker, Di Maria (Juventus), Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and Di Lorenzo (Napoli) also fought in the fight for the prize, but it was the Portuguese who managed to smile after voting for the third round of the competition, the famous This Thursday is the fair.

Read also: Diogo Costa and Andre Silva named to Champions League Team of the Week

See also: Andre Silva among the nominees for the title of the best player of the week in the Champions League

See also: double dose. Andre Silva returned to celebrate and sentenced doubts

See also: Andre Silva took advantage of Hart’s colossal mistake and responded to Jota’s goal

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu – Renaissance

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu - Renaissance

At the end of the summer of 1972, exactly half a century ago, SEDES – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Económico e Social (the most famous reformist think tank during Marseilles) issued a document for the country entitled “Portugal: The country we are, the country we want to be “. The Marseille spring had already turned into autumn: Américo Thomas had just been re-elected, the colonial war had dragged on, repression had intensified, and an economic crisis was already brewing. Seeing the general frustration, and at the same time willing to go against it, the signatories of CEDES began by asking “Where will we be and how will we be in 1980?” to criticize the obstacles that overshadowed Portugal in the early 1970s.

Among the “problems that are getting worse without a solution”, emigration stood out, indicating the country’s inability to offer better living and working conditions to those who left; the growing inflationary process, reflected in the cost of living; the inevitability of economic integration in Europe when the country is not ready for international commercial competition; “disaggregation of regional economies” with “continuous depopulation of municipalities and regions” within the country; or “deterioration of public administration” when the government fails to promote a “prestigious, moralized, revitalized and efficient public sector”. “No one will have any difficulty,” continued the text, “to add to a new list of urgent questions that seriously endanger national life, about which much has been said and which, year after year, continue to wait for a sufficient solution.” Therefore, “the prevailing feeling in the country” in contemplation of the recent past and present could not but be “annoyance at urgent battles, the need for which was endlessly discussed, at decisions that were changed or postponed, and at rejected goals” or which were not clearly formulated ” .

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Between “untapped resources” and/or “lack of organizational and decision-making capacity” there was “widespread anxiety” stemming from the inevitable observation that “we are very far from the results that we could achieve thanks to the progress of the Portuguese and Portugal”. This was the macro goal of the reformist, humanist and liberalizing technocrats that SEDES brought together. “Ultimately,” they reminded Marcelo Cayetano, “the real obstacle can only be associated with the low political priority of economic and social development in our country.” So, in short, there was an urgent need to “radically change our economic, social and political way of life”, since “a national balance based on general anemia, repression and weakening of various participants” is unsustainable and pernicious.

SEDES did not know that the Estado Novo would fall in April 1974, that democracy would come in 1976, and Europe from the EEC (after EFTA) in 1986 of repression, finally gained the freedom that was discussed between the lines of the 1972 manifesto ., there would be conditions for solving (almost) all economic and social problems of development and cohesion.

Fifty years have passed since this manifesto, and almost the same number has already been in democracy. However, if we compare the above quotes with the Portuguese present, the feeling of deja vu is indescribable. SEDES wondered what the country would be like in 1980 and is wondering today (in its recent study “Ambition: Doubling GDP in 20 Years”) where we will be in 2040. It may be a replay of a sad fate: knowing (some) where to go, but never getting there!

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy – Observer

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy - Observer

Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho met this Wednesday with his Algerian counterpart Ramtan Lamamra, who expressed interest in Portuguese companies investing in Algeria’s solar and wind energy.

Speaking with Lusa, João Cravinho also said that for 2023 it was decided to hold a “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the state visit of the President of Algeria. Algeria to Portugal.

The Portuguese foreign minister said today’s visit to Algeria, where he was with Ramtan Lamamra, whom he has known since 2005 when he was ambassador to Lisbon, is “based on old knowledge”, but also a visit to a country that “does not to be a neighbor”, shares “a lot of fears”. “Not being a neighboring country, it almost shares many concerns about the region, the Mediterranean, the European Union’s relationship with Africa and the Arab world. It was important for us to talk about what we can do together as part of the geopolitical and geo-economic transformation,” he explained.

João Cravinho stressed that the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a factor “which could not but be the subject of dialogue”, and also added that “geo-economic issues related to energy, renewable energy sources and the opportunities that come with the digital transition” also were on the table.

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“While Algeria is a major exporter of fossil fuels, it is also a country with huge potential in terms of solar and wind energy. We have very qualified companies in these areas, and the Algerian side has expressed interest in [ter] Portuguese investors in these areas,” the minister said.

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The official said that it would be a matter of working with the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), with the Secretary of State for Internationalization, as well as with a sectoral ministry, namely the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. A “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries is scheduled for 2023, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the Algerian President’s state visit to Portugal.

“We have a very busy calendar between the two countries. Now we will try to organize a mixed commission, where technical specialists from both countries will gather,” he said, stressing that there are “14 legal documents that are practically finalized and will be signed” in 2023.

João Gomes Cravinho was on a visit to Algiers today to assess bilateral relations in the economic sphere, as well as in terms of cooperation, language and culture, and to discuss international issues.

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