17-31 May – The Americas Bulletin



  • US Announces More Sanctions on Myanmar Junta

The United States has sanctioned more members and associates of the Myanmar military junta for their alleged role in violence against protesters demonstrating against the country’s February 1 military coup.  Those sanctions include members of the State Administrative Council, cabinet members and adult children of some military officials, according to the State Department. The new sanctions were coordinated with Britain and Canada, which will impose similar measures. 

Source: Voice of America. Accesed on 17.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/us-announces-more-sanctions-myanmar-junta


  • Mexican union was set to lose disputed GM workers’ vote –report

General Motors Co (GM.N) workers in Mexico were on track to scrap the contract negotiated by one of the country’s biggest unions, according to a Mexican government report on a vote last month that led to a U.S. complaint under a new North American free trade deal.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 17.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-union-was-losing-scrapped-gm-worker-vote-report-2021-05-13/


  • Criminal probe of million-dollar lottery scandal

The Public Ministry (MP)has opened a criminal investigation for the alleged embezzlement of a million-dollar lottery prize.Questions about the National  Charity Lottery (LNB) first surfaced on social networks and were expanded after contradictory statements from the head of the institution. The investigation also includes the use of the institution’s vehicles for political affairs.

Source: Newsroom Panama. Accesed on 17.05.2021 from https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/criminal-probe-of-million-dollar-lottery-scandal



  • Israel-Gaza violence: Joe Biden calls for ceasefire

US President Joe Biden has voiced his support for a ceasefire after eight days of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. Mr. Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US was working with Egypt and other countries on halting hostilities. But the US again blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for a cessation of violence.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 18.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-57152723


  • Mexico eyes easing U.S. border curbs from June 22, depending on COVID

Mexico and the United States are discussing relaxing curbs on non-essential land border crossings from June 22, depending on the spread of COVID-19 and how many people in both countries have been vaccinated, Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Source: Reuters. Accesed on 18.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-hopes-us-mexico-border-curbs-lifted-before-summer-ends-2021-05-18/



  • Unauthorized US-Mexico Border Crossings Reached 20-Year High in April

Nearly four months into the Biden administration, U.S. officials report only limited signs of progress in stabilizing a chaotic situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, with unauthorized migrant crossings continuing at multi-decade highs for this time of year. The number of migrants encountered by U.S. authorities began rising last year and increased dramatically in early 2021.
Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 19.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/immigration/unauthorized-us-mexico-border-crossings-reached-20-year-high-april

  • U.S., Mexico, Canada held ‘robust’ trade talks; vow focus on climate, small businesses

Trade ministers from the United States, Canada and Mexico on Tuesday said they held “robust” talks on the new North American trade deal and agreed to focus on fighting climate change and ensuring the voices of underrepresented groups are heard.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 19.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/business/us-mexico-canada-held-robust-trade-talks-vow-focus-climate-small-businesses-2021-05-19/


  • Canada says reiterated to the U.S. that it plans a digital services tax – minister

Canada reiterated to the United States that it plans to go ahead with a digital services tax if need be, a move that would hit giants like Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook Inc (FB.O), Trade Minister Mary Ng said on Tuesday. Canada said last November it intended to impose a tax on corporations providing digital services from 2022

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 19.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/technology/canada-says-reiterated-us-that-it-plans-digital-services-tax-minister-2021-05-19



  • Nord Stream 2: Biden waives US sanctions on Russian pipeline

The Biden administration has waived sanctions on a company building a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. The US also lifted sanctions on the executive – an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin – who leads the firm behind the Nord Stream 2 project. The move came in a report on Russian sanctions delivered to Congress by the Department of State. Critics say the pipeline is a major geopolitical prize for the Kremlin.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 20.05.2021 of https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57180674

  • The US to Distribute 80 Million Vaccine Doses Globally, on Basis of Need

The United States announced this week that it will share an additional 20 million coronavirus vaccine doses with other countries, in addition to the 60 million it has already committed. U.S. State Department Coordinator for Global COVID Response Gayle Smith emphasized the U.S. is working closely with the global COVAX facility to determine where the vaccines are needed most, and how they can be most equitably distributed.

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 20.05.2021 fromhttps://www.voanews.com/usa/us-distribute-80-million-vaccine-doses-globally-basis-need


  • Bank of Canada says cryptoassets’ volatility is obstacle to payment acceptance

Price volatility is keeping crypto assets from being widely accepted as a means of payment, the Bank of Canada said on Thursday, though the markets’ rapid evolution is an emerging vulnerability to Canada’s financial system. The central bank said it is monitoring crypto asset markets, which have surged in popularity in the last year as they have become easier for consumers to access through exchange-traded funds, listed companies and other investment vehicles.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 20.05.2021 of https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/bank-canada-says-cryptoassets-price-volatility-is-obstacle-acceptance-payment-2021-05-20/


  • Mexico could implement tax reform in 2022 – finance minister

Mexico’s finance minister Arturo Herrera said on Thursday a tax reform could be implemented in 2022.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 20.05.2021 of https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-could-implement-tax-reform-2022-finance-minister-2021-05-20/


  • Panama closes border with Colombia

Panama announced on Wednesday, May 19, the temporary closure of its border with Colombia, hours after the neighboring country reopened the land, river, and sea borders that it had been closed for more than a year due to the pandemic.

Source: Newsroom Panama. Accessed on 20.05.2021 from https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama-closes-border-with-colombia



  • US, Russia Spar Over Military Buildup on Sidelines of Arctic Summit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced alarm at Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic region, on the sidelines of a summit of the Arctic Council in Iceland late Thursday.
Blinken told delegates gathered in Reykjavik that the United States is “…committed to advancing a peaceful Arctic region where cooperation prevails on climate, the environment, science and safety and where sustainable economic development benefits the people of the region.”

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 21.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/europe/us-russia-spar-over-military-buildup-sidelines-arctic-summit


  • Canadian court finds Iran liable for downed Ukrainian plane

A court in the Canadian province of Ontario ruled on Thursday that Iran owes damages to families who sued after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020, soon after it took off from Tehran.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 21.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadian-court-finds-iran-liable-downed-ukrainian-plane-2021-05-20/

  • Canada extends ban on India flights; Manitoba asks Trudeau for help

Canada has extended its ban on passenger flights from India and Pakistan by 30 days to June 21 as part of a campaign to fight COVID-19, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Friday.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 21.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-extends-ban-passenger-flights-india-pakistan-by-30-days-cbc-2021-05-21/



  • U.S. prepares to downgrade Mexico air safety rating, sources say

The U.S. government is preparing to downgrade Mexico’s aviation safety rating, a move that would bar Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limit airlines’ ability to carry out marketing agreements, four sources briefed on the matter said.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 22.05.2021 fromhttps://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/exclusive-us-prepares-downgrade-mexico-air-safety-rating-sources-2021-05-21



  • Big US Companies Pushed to Tally Progress on Racial Justice

The killing of George Floyd prompted a wave of promises from corporate America to advance racial equity. Nearly a year later, large U.S. companies are under pressure to show progress on fulfilling those promises. Shareholders will vote in the coming weeks on some of those initiatives, including whether Walmart should report on the fairness of its pay scale and whether Facebook and Google/Alphabet should appoint a civil rights specialist to their boards.

Source: VOA News. Accessed on 23 May 2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/race-america/big-us-companies-pushed-tally-progress-racial-justice



  • George Floyd’s family marches to mark the first anniversary of his death

Relatives of George Floyd, the African-American whose death triggered protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and around the world, gathered on Sunday in a rally to mark the first anniversary of his death. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes on May 25 last year. His dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry in a wave of street demonstrations against his killing.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 24.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/us/george-floyds-family-marches-mark-first-anniversary-his-death-2021-05-24



  • Blinken Announces New US Disaster Relief for Gaza

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he will ask Congress for $75 million in assistance for Palestinians in Gaza following the recent cease-fire that brought an end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Blinken made the announcement after talks in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday.

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 25.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/blinken-announces-new-us-disaster-relief-gaza

  • US Completes Up to 25% of Afghan Withdrawal

“U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimates that we have completed between 16-25% of the entire retrograde process,” the command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan, said Tuesday.  CENTCOM also said it had removed the equivalent of approximately 160 C-17 planeloads of material from Afghanistan and had turned over more than 10,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition.  U.S. President Joe Biden announced last month that American troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, after nearly 20 years of military involvement in the war-torn country. 

Source: The New York Times. Accessed on 25.05.2021 from  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/25/us/politics/us-afghanistan-withdrawal.html

  • Biden Administration Moves to Protect Myanmar Nationals Residing in US

Early four months after a coup in Myanmar triggered a prolonged period of violence and upheaval in the country, the Biden administration has designated Myanmar nationals for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), allowing many in the U.S. to be shielded from deportation and obtain work permits. The registration period is set from May 25 to November 22. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that about 1,600 Burmese nationals “continuously residing” in the U.S. since March 11 now can obtain protected status. 

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 25.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/biden-administration-moves-protect-myanmar-nationals-residing-us


  • Cuba says it is surprised and irritated by new U.S. terrorism charge

Cuba charged on Tuesday that the Biden administration has continued the policies of former U.S. President Donald Trump against Havana with a decision to maintain a Trump-era determination that it is not fully cooperating in the fight against terrorism. “I hereby determine and certify to the Congress that the following countries are not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a brief note, which listed Cuba along with Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 25.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/cuba-says-it-is-surprised-irritated-by-new-us-terrorism-charge-2021-05-25



  • Israel-Gaza conflict: US moves to rebuild relations with Palestinians

The US will seek to rebuild its relations with the Palestinians by reopening its consulate in Jerusalem and providing aid to help rebuild Gaza, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.
After meeting President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Blinken stressed the need to shore up the truce that ended the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 26.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-57238451

  • Biden, Putin Agree to June 16 Summit in Geneva

 U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a summit next month in Geneva, the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders at a time when the two countries are at odds on several contentious issues.The White House confirmed details of the June 16 meeting with Putin on Tuesday, saying Biden would add the meeting to his first international trip as president when he visits Britain for a meeting with the Group of Seven leaders and Brussels for a NATO summit.

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 26.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/biden-putin-agree-june-16-summit-geneva


  • The Mexican president has seen holding on to the lower house in the election –poll

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies are expected to maintain control of the lower house of Congress in elections on June 6, but with fewer seats, an opinion poll showed Wednesday.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 26.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-president-seen-holding-lowerhouse-election-poll-2021-05-26/

  • The U.S. downgrades Mexico air safety rating, offers assistance

The United States on Tuesday downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating, an action that bars Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limits the ability of airlines to carry out marketing agreements with one another. Over the objections of the Mexican government, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced the downgrade and said it would increase scrutiny of Mexican airline flights to the United States.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 26.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/exclusive-us-downgrades-mexico-air-safety-rating-government-official-2021-05-25/


  • Martinelli owned company heading for corruption trial

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has requested a trial for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering by Importadora Ricamar, SA, a company controlled by former President Ricardo Martinelli and which operates the Super 99 supermarkets and is the legal entity charged in the case of the Odebrecht   bribery scandal

Source: Newsroom Panama. Accessed on 26.05.2021 from https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-owned-company-heading-for-corruption-trial



  • US and China trade officials hold ‘candid’ first talks of Biden era

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a virtual meeting to discuss matters. The talks follow the Trump administration’s combative stance towards China and the resulting trade war. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative stated that Ms. Tai and Mr. Liu “discussed the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris Administration’s worker-centered trade policy and her ongoing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern.”

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 27.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57264346

  • Covid: Biden orders investigation into virus origin as lab leak theory debated

US President Joe Biden has ordered intelligence officials to “redouble” efforts to investigate the origins of Covid-19, including the theory that it came from a laboratory in China. He said the US intelligence community was split on whether it came from a lab accident or emerged from human contact with an infected animal. Mr. Biden asked the groups to report back to him within 90 days.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 27.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57260009

  • US Prosecutors Investigating Whether Ukrainians Interfered in 2020 Election, Report Says

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether current and former Ukrainian officials unlawfully interfered in the U.S. presidential election, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The criminal investigation includes examining whether the Ukrainian officials used Rudolph Giuliani, then personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, to spread misleading claims about current President Joe Biden, The New York Times reported.

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 27.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/us-prosecutors-investigating-whether-ukrainians-interfered-2020-election-report-says

  • Biden Administration to Require Pipeline Companies to Report Cyberattacks

The Biden administration will require the nation’s pipeline companies to report to the government any time they are hit with a significant cyberattack, and to create 24-hour emergency centers for such episodes, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, said Thursday morning. The move is the first of several, administration officials said Wednesday night, to address the lessons of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack this month, which forced Colonial to shut off the systems that send gasoline and jet fuel to nearly half of the East Coast.

Source: The New York Times. Accessed on 27.05.2021 from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/27/us/politics/biden-pipelines-cyberattacks.html


  • Bank of Canada seen cutting bond purchases further as lockdowns ease

Canada’s trailblazing central bank is likely to cut its bond-buying program again this year, possibly as soon as July, as provinces ease curbs to contain the coronavirus pandemic and inflation pressures build, analysts said.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 27.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/business/bank-canada-seen-cutting-bond-purchases-further-lockdowns-ease-2021-05-27/



  • Covid: China hits back as US revisits Wuhan lab-leak theory

China has denounced US efforts to further investigate whether Covid-19 came from a Chinese lab. US President Joe Biden has said he expects to release the results of an intelligence report on the origins of the virus. China’s foreign ministry accused the US of “political manipulation and blame shifting”. It has rejected any link between Covid-19 and a virus research lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-5726772

  • Open Skies Treaty: US tells Russia it will not rejoin key arms control deal

The US has told Russia it will not rejoin an arms control deal that permits unarmed aerial flights over dozens of participating countries. The state department said the Open Skies Treaty “has been undermined by Russia’s violations” and its failure to return to compliance. Russia denies the allegations, and the country is also expected to withdraw from the treaty this year.

Source: Voice of America. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.voanews.com/usa/us-politics/us-tells-russia-it-wont-rejoin-open-skies-arms-control-pact

  • Republicans block 9/11-style congressional probe of Capitol riot

Republicans in the US Senate have blocked a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol Hill riot. The measure passed the US House of Representatives last week. Members of ex-President Donald Trump’s party said the riot is already being investigated by congressional panels. Democrats argued that forming a commission, similar to the one created after 9/11, would prevent any repeat of a similar invasion on the Capitol.

Source: The Guardian. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/senate-republicans-6-january-capitol-attack-commission


  • Canada records C$314.0 billion budget deficit in fiscal 2020/21

Canada’s budget deficit in fiscal 2020/21 swelled to C$314.00 billion ($260.15 billion) from a deficit of C$21.77 billion in the previous year, as Ottawa spent heavily to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary data from the federal finance ministry showed on Friday.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-records-c3140-billion-budget-deficit-fiscal-202021-2021-05-28/


  • CANADA STOCKS TSX futures rise as oil prices gain

Futures for Canada’s main stock index rose on Friday as oil prices gained on optimism of a demand recovery, overshadowing concerns about more supply from Iran once sanctions are lifted. Brent crude was up 0.37% at $69.72 barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 0.55% to $67.22.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/business/canada-stocks-tsx-futures-rise-oil-prices-gain-2021-05-28/


  • Martinelli loses another round and appeals

The guarantees judge, Elkis Martínez, denied, on Friday, May 28, 2021, a request for the prescription of criminal activity in the case of illegal wiretaps, which had been presented by the defense of former president Ricardo Martinelli. Martinelli’s defense announced an appeal, so a new hearing was set next June 4.

Source: Newsroom Panama. Accessed on 28.05.2021 from https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-loses-another-round-and-appeals



  • Biden budget: President sets out $6tn spending plan

The bumper proposal would include huge new social programmes and investment in the fight against climate change. Under the plan, debt would reach 117% of GDP by 2031, surpassing levels during World War Two. The Biden budget includes a $1.5tn request for operating expenditures for the Pentagon and other government departments. It also incorporates two plans he has previously publicised: his $2.3tn jobs plan and a $1.8tn families plan.

Source: BBC News. Accessed on 29.05.2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57285970


  • Cartels burn vehicles, block highways in 5 Michoacán municipalities

After a confrontation with members of the National Guard in Aguililla, warring cartels in Michoacán burned vehicles and blocked highways in five municipalities.

Source: MexicoNewsDaily. Accessed on 29.05.2021 from https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/cartels-burn-vehicles-block-highways-in-5-michoacan-municipalities/



  • Remains of 215 children found at former indigenous school site in Canada

The remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found at the site of a former residential school for indigenous children, a discovery Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as heartbreaking on Friday.  The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978, according to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, which said the remains were found with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist. Canada’s residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, constituted “cultural genocide,” a six-year investigation into the now-defunct system found in 2015.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 30.05.2021 fromhttps://www.reuters.com/world/americas/remains-215-children-found-former-indigenous-school-site-canada-2021-05-28/



  • Biden proclaims day of remembrance on 100th anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

President Joe Biden on Monday issued a proclamation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when hundreds of Black Americans were killed by a White mob that attacked a prosperous Black neighborhood and burned dozens of city blocks to the ground. Biden proclaimed Monday to be “Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre” and called on Americans to “reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our Nation and recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country.”

Source: CNN. Accessed on 31.05.2021 from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/31/politics/biden-proclamation-tulsa-race-massacre/index.html


  • Indigenous groups call for Canada to identify graves after remains of 215 children found

Indigenous groups in Canada are calling for a nationwide search for mass graves at residential school sites after the discovery of the remains of 215 children at one former school last week shocked the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that searching for more mass graves was “an important part of discovering the truth” but did not make specific commitments.

Source: Reuters. Accessed on 31.05.2021 from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/indigenous-groups-call-canada-identify-graves-after-remains-215-children-found-2021-05-31/


  • Corruption Trial

Among the list of 50 people called to trial for alleged money laundering and corruption of public servants are three former ministers of the Ricardo Martinelli administration (2009-2014). They are Frank De Lima, Economy and Finance, Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriou, Presidency, and Jaime Ford, Public Works.

Source: Newsroom Panama. Accessed on 31.05.2021 from https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/three-martinelli-eraministers-face-corruption-trial

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