A surging coronavirus is ravaging parts of Latin America, setting records for cases and deaths Friday in some countries in the world's most unequal region, even as the pandemic's march slows in much of Europe, Asia, and the US. Latin America's two largest nations—Mexico and Brazil—reported record numbers of infections and deaths almost daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents, who've slow-walked shutdowns in an attempt to limit economic damage, per the AP. Brazil reported more than 330,000 confirmed cases as of Friday, surpassing Russia to become the nation with the second-highest number of infections, behind only the US, per a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University (though as of Saturday morning, Russia had jumped back up past Brazil). Brazil also has recorded more than 21,000 deaths, though experts believe the true numbers are higher.
The virus "does not forgive," an Uber driver said at the burial of his grandmother in Rio de Janeiro. "It does not choose race or if you are rich or poor, black or white. It's a cruel disease." Experts said the surging deaths across Latin America showed the limits of government action in a region where millions have informal jobs and many police forces are weak or corrupt and unable to enforce restrictions. Infections also rose and intensive care units were swamped in Peru, Chile, and Ecuador, countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines. Some Latin American leaders have downplayed the severity of the virus. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has especially pushed back against state governors who tried to impose limits on people's movements and commerce. Opposition lawmakers and other detractors have called for Bolsonaro's impeachment and have alleged criminal mishandling of the response to the virus.
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