This Week Around the World

April 19 Brasilia, Brazil: Approximately 600 protesters gathered outside Brazil’s military headquarters, calling on the armed forces to intervene in the state-ordered stay-at-home restrictions. Many protesters were not wearing masks, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and called for the military to shut down the country’s Supreme Court and Congress. Former army captain and current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joined the protests and supported their message, according to Al Jazeera. “I am here because I believe in you,” Bolsonaro said at the gathering. “You are here because you believe in Brazil. We don’t want to negotiate anything; what we want is action for Brazil.” Bolsonaro’s actions have been widely criticized as reckless, as he continues to increase public appearances, despite the Brazilian health ministry recommending isolation and social distancing. 


April 20 Guatemala City, Guatemala: Technical Deputy Minister of Health Rodolfo Galdamez and Administrative Deputy Minister of Health Hector Marroquin were fired following the announcement of an alleged corruption ring within the Ministry of Health aiming to defraud the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. A report filed with Guatemala’s Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Bureau claimed at least eight health ministry officials were under investigation in relation to the fraud scandal. “We are not going to tolerate corruption,” President Alejandro Giammettei stated, according to Al Jazeera. “We are not going to permit anyone to steal one cent, and less so in the middle of a crisis.”


April 21 Baakline, Lebanon: Brothers identified only as M.H. and F.H. shot and killed at least nine people, including two children, on April 21 and remain on the run despite extensive search efforts by Lebanese authorities. Al Jazeera reported the incident is the worst shooting in Lebanon in the last twenty years. Police officials reported they believed the brothers were motivated by revenge for M.H.’s wife’s alleged affair. The wife and the man she was allegedly having an affair with were both killed in the shooting. Baakline Mayor Abdullah al-Ghussaini, however, rejected the idea of the pair being motivated by revenge or politics and instead asserted the men had a “nervous breakdown.”


April 23 Oxford, United Kingdom: A COVID-19 vaccine human trial began at Oxford University with the first two of 800 volunteers being injected with a potential vaccine. The trial is set up so half of the 800 participants will receive the potential vaccine while the other half will receive a control vaccine with similar shot side effects, including soreness and low-grade fever. The vaccine was developed in less than three months by a team at Oxford University led by Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute. Gilbert told BBC she is “80% confident” and “very optimistic” about the potential of the vaccine, but reminds the public the vaccine will not be widely available for at least a year regardless of the outcomes of the trial. Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged over $21 million to the Oxford University trial. 


April 23 Mexico: A new amnesty law went into effect on April 23, and will free approximately 6,000 people convicted of minor crimes, including abortion, petty theft and drug possession. The law was a campaign promise made by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the hopes it would assist in bringing down the levels of violence throughout the country. Indigenous people who were without a lawyer or interpreter through the legal process, as well as individuals who were dealing with poverty or disability at the time of a drug trafficking charge, are set to be released under the new law. 

April 24–25 Mogadishu, Somalia: A Somali civilian was killed by a police officer enforcing the nightly curfew set to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Bondhere district of the country’s capital city on April 24. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Mogadishu on April 25 to demand justice for the man who was killed while burning tires and photographs of Somali President Abdullahi Mohamed. “The particular policeman is detained and will face due process,” Deputy Police Commissioner Zakia Hussen stated on Twitter. “The curfew has been in place for some time with no incidents and we regret this particular one but it is not a common situation and it is not something we will tolerate.” The Bondhere district police commissioner was fired on April 25 as a result of the shooting.