The famous Temple Mount in Jerusalem reopened its doors this Sunday, in a new example of the slow return to normality in the world, something very distant for Latin America, the current epicenter of the pandemic, which exceeded 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus, almost 29,000 of them in Brazil.
More than six million people have been infected and 369,086 have died worldwide from covid-19, which causes deep divisions in the international community on how to deal with the pandemic.
This was demonstrated by the United States’ decision to break with the World Health Organization (WHO) accusing it of being too lenient with China, where the pandemic originated in December.
Very hard weeks are ahead for all of Latin America, where infections are approaching a million. Brazil, with 28,834 deaths, has become the fourth country with the most deaths from the new coronavirus, behind the United States (103,472), Great Britain (38,161) and Italy (33,229).
The South American giant, where 210 million people live, also has the second highest number of confirmed infections in the world: 498,444 infected.
The situation in Brazil is further complicated by President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to oppose the confinement measures that have been decreed by several governors and mayors, following the recommendations of the WHO and the international scientific community.
Bolsonaro has even protested the return of professional soccer in Brazil, interrupted since March.
But Brazil is not the only focus in Latin America. The pandemic is advancing with force also in Mexico, with 9,779 deaths for a population of 120 million, and Peru, with 4,371 deaths for 33 million inhabitants and which on Saturday exceeded 150,000 cases.
– The Esplanade of the Mosques reopens –
This Sunday, Pope Francis expressed concern about the indigenous peoples of the Amazon “particularly vulnerable” in the face of the pandemic.
The pope asked that no one be deprived of healthcare in his Sunday prayer, held for the first time in three months before faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, reopened its doors after two months, with worshipers wearing a mask and demarcation tapes on the floor.
“There was no Ramadan, nor Aíd al Fitr (End of Fasting Festival, in Al Aqsa), but today is a festival, everything is different,” said Ramzi Abisan, who arrived at dawn to attend the first prayer.
Its reopening joins that of the Basilica of the Nativity on Tuesday in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus according to Christian tradition, located in the West Bank. Instead, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, another iconic place, is still closed.
The exit from the long confinement is most clearly seen in Europe, which registers almost half of the deaths in the world from coronavirus (177,595) and about two million declared cases, but where the pandemic seems under control.
Most European countries are steadfastly moving forward on cautious phased out confinements, with a possible reopening of the EU’s internal borders on June 15.
In France, parks and gardens reopened this weekend and on Tuesday they will be able to receive clients bars and restaurants, although in the case of Paris, located in a region still considered risky, it will only be on terraces.
The arrival of summer and the need to launch the vast tourism sector, crucial for several European countries, especially the Mediterranean, sets the pace for lack of confidence.
Spain, for example, will begin to allow the arrival of German, French or Scandinavian tourists from the second half of June as part of a pilot project in the Balearic and Canary Islands.
Greece, another country where tourism has great weight, will authorize flights from the European Union from June 15. Visitors will not have to be quarantined, except for those who come from the regions most affected by covid-19.
– Divisions –
The pandemic has exposed deep divisions in the international community and has led to strong geopolitical tensions.
The European Union on Saturday asked US President Donald Trump to “reconsider” his decision to withdraw from the WHO.
With 103,758 deaths and 1,769,776 cases, the United States is the most affected country in the world and Trump, who is risking his reelection in November, faces a gigantic health crisis that has been joined by protests against police violence and racism after the death of an African American at the hands of an officer in Minneapolis.
As a sign of his decision to use the full weight of the country on the international stage, Trump said on Saturday that he would postpone the G7 summit scheduled for June and that he would invite more nations. “I do not think that the G7 correctly represents what is happening in the world. It is a very obsolete group of countries,” he said.
In addition, confinement measures have generated citizen unrest in countries such as the United States, Spain and Argentina, and pressure is growing on governments to restart vital economic sectors to cushion a historic crisis.
Almost a thousand people protested in Buenos Aires on Saturday against the mandatory quarantine in force since March 20.
“Enough quarantine, freedom of work,” read one of the posters carried by protesters around the Buenos Aires Obelisk, where medical and health personnel also came in a motorcade to ask for more protection measures and higher wages.
Argentina, with 44 million inhabitants, reported a record of contagions in one day (795) on Saturday, and this Sunday totaled 16,201 cases, including 530 deaths and 5,336 recovered.
In El Salvador, the Legislative Assembly approved an emergency law on Saturday to deal with covid-19 and set the reopening of the economy for June 8, although President Nayib Bukele announced that he will not enact it.
The Central American governments, meanwhile, agreed to unblock the borders and end the crisis unleashed by the restrictions imposed by Costa Rica on the transport of cargo to contain the virus.
Finally, the Ecuadorian government announced on Saturday that the Galapagos Islands will reopen their doors to tourism from July 1.
burs-mar / zm / mls