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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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Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT

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Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT

Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (KTM) finished the first two free practices of the MotoGP Grand Prix in Assen in 16th place.

Oliveira finished the day with a time of 1.34.676 minutes, 1.402 seconds behind the best rider of the day, Italy’s Francesco Banagia (Ducati). Spaniard Aleix Espargaro (April) was second with 0.178 seconds and French champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was third with 0.305 seconds.

After the first session in the rain, in which the rider from Almada was sixth fastest, the rain stopped before the start of the second session.

The riders started with intermediate tires, but as the track in Assen in the Netherlands, considered the “cathedral” of motorsport, dried up, they installed dry tires (slicks).

Under these conditions, Miguel Oliveira was losing ground in the table, ending the day in 16th place, despite an improvement of about nine seconds from the morning’s record, in rain, in which Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) was the fastest. , fifth in the afternoon.

On Saturday there will be two more free practices and qualifications.

The 10 fastest in the set of the first three sessions go directly to the second stage of qualification (Q2), and the remaining 14 “brawl” in Q1, resulting in the two fastest qualifying to the next stage.

Fabio Quartararo enters this 11th round of the season leading the championship with 172 points, while Miguel Oliveira is in 10th place with 64 points.

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Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a “natural partner” of the European Union at the moment – Observer

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Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a "natural partner" of the European Union at the moment - Observer

This Thursday, Portugal’s foreign minister said that at a time when the European Union (EU) seeks to diversify suppliers and markets, MERCOSUR is a natural partner whose importance cannot be “underestimated”.

For Portugal, “the current delicate context makes us appreciate even more the mutual advantages of the Agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR,” João Gomes Cravinho said, without directly referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“At a time when the EU is seeking to diversify suppliers and markets in order to ensure greater strategic autonomy, MERCOSUR is a natural partner, whose importance we cannot underestimate“, the minister added at a conference entitled “Brazil and Portugal: perspectives for the future”, which takes place from Thursday to Friday at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) is a South American economic bloc created in 1991, whose founding members are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

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But still, within the framework of the European Union, Joao Gomes Cravinho believed that EU strategic partnership with Brazil left ‘untapped’.

The Minister stressed that in the context of the EU, Portugal “always knew how to use its position in favor of strengthening relations with Brazil.”

Therefore, it was during the Portuguese presidency, in 2007, that a “strategic partnership with Brazil” was established, he stressed.

However, according to the head of Portuguese diplomacy, this is “a partnership that has clearly not been used for a variety of reasons and which still retains the ability to position Brazil as Europe’s great interlocutor for South America.”

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With regard to bilateral relations between the two countries, the minister emphasized that “in this context of global turmoil, the wisdom of the central characteristic common to the foreign policy of Brazil and Portugal, which is active participation in many multilateral structures, in recognition of the indispensability of multilateralism, international cooperation and global rules based order.

Portugal meets with Brazil in all areas of Portuguese foreign policy. We are Atlantic, we are Ibero-American and Portuguese-speaking,” he said.

In the Atlantic dimension, “Portugal and Brazil are united by an ocean, which we recognize as growing in importance in the context of new, complex and truly existential issues,” he said.

According to João Gomes Cravinho, “Some of these problems can be answered in the Atlantic Center, co-founded by Portugal and Brazil”, and “the other part of the huge ocean problems will be addressed in detail at the great Summit.” Oceans”, which will be held in Lisbon next week.

“In any of the areas, new prospects are opening up for Portuguese-Brazilian relations,” he stressed.

With regard to Ibero-America, the minister believes that Portugal and Brazil share “an enormous strategic space with the Castilian-speaking countries, where a joint Portuguese-Brazilian reflection is undoubtedly recommended on the potential to exploit opportunities and create synergies”.

“Value of CPLP [Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa] is gaining more and more recognition at the international level – and the evidence of this is the growing number of states that become associate observers” of the organization, he believes.

“Because they want to engage with us and reinforce the value of the linguistic, cultural and historical ties that unify lusophony and create a unique dynamic for relationships with third parties,” he stressed.

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But even at this level, he argued that there was an urgent need to find a “convergence of visions and desires” that “allows us to enhance” our “separate realities.”

The minister also mentioned that “despite the break caused by the pandemic”, Portugal has a “real air bridge” with Brazil, consisting of more than 74 weekly TAP flights, which is a cause and effect of “a dynamic that is being updated and reinvented”. relations between the two countries.

This dynamic, according to Gomes Cravinho, is also reflected in economic and commercial relations.

Thus, “Brazil is the first Latin American export market for Portuguese merchandise and is already the fourth largest merchandise export destination (outside the EU).

“However, the conviction remains that the potential is far from being realized, and that nostalgia for the future entails a vision of a different profile of our exchanges, a technological, creative profile that corresponds to global geo-economic transformations,” he defended. .

At this stage, João Gomes Cravinho also underlined the potential of the port of Sines, “whose strategic importance, which has long been noted, takes on new importance in the troubled times that we are going through.”

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A cycle of Portuguese cinema will be held in New York from Friday.

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A cycle of Portuguese cinema will be held in New York from Friday.

Dand from June 24 to 30, an event called “New Stories from Portuguese Cinema” will present the perspectives of a new generation of filmmakers “whose films embody the artistic, social and political reflections that mark the 21st century,” according to the organization in a statement.

Balad o batrachio by Leonor Teles, Amor, Avenidas Novas by Duarte Coimbra and O Cordeiro de Deus by David Pinheiro Vicente are three of the 20 films that are part of this cinematic cycle.

Pedro Cabeleira, Laura Carreira, Susana Nobre, Joao Rosas, Tomas Paula Marquez, Catarina de Souza and Nick Tyson, Maya Cosa and Sergio da Costa, Christel Alves Meira, Paulo Carneiro, Pedro Peralta, Diogo Salgado, Catarina Vasconcelos and Aya Korezli other directors integrated into this movie cycle.

In addition to FLAD, this event is also the result of a partnership with New York-based Anthology Film Archives, an iconic venue for independent and experimental filmmaking, hosting a Portuguese film cycle featuring Francisco Valente.

“Anthology Film Archives has been a reference space for over 50 years. It seemed to us ideal to promote the works of these directors, emphasizing their uniqueness and quality. We believe that Portuguese cinema can gain more space in the United States and we want to do our part to internationalize it,” said FLAD President Rita Faden.

Francisco Valente, guest programmer, explained that the 18 selected directors are distinguished by “their unwavering commitment to using the screen to express their personal freedom, reflect their racial and gender identity, and develop narratives that comment on and expand our reality.” – in Portugal, in the United States, or in that beautiful and imaginary country called cinema.

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This connection between Portugal and the United States of America is also expressed in the documentary “In the Footsteps of Utopia”, based on the testimonies of “weird” teenagers from Queens, filmed by Catarina de Souza and Nick Tyson, who will come to New York to find out their joint production, which closes this cycle.

The program of the cycle is available in the Screenings section of the Anthology Film Archives “website” (anthologyfilmarchives.org) and on the FLAD “website” (https://www.flad.pt/wp-content). /uploads/2022/02/new_tales_final_bx.pdf).

See also: Michael J. Fox received a humanitarian “Oscar”, and Diane Warren – an honorary “Oscar”.

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