Goya CEO Praises Trump at White House, Backlash is Swift

Goya Foods is facing a swift backlash after its CEO praised President Donald Trump at a White House event.Goya was founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, immigrants from Spain. The company calls itself the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States.  Robert Unanue, a grandson and now Goya CEO, spoke at a Rose Garden event announcing a “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative” on Thursday.  “We all truly blessed, at the same time, to have have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said standing at a podium beside Trump.Almost immediately, #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods and #Goyaway began trending on social media platforms like Twitter, with scorn coming seemingly from all directions, including some big political names.  Many were angered by the support, citing Trump’s history of derogatory comments and harsh policies toward Hispanics, most notably, the administration’s policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.Former presidential candidate Julian Castro was among those to take to Twitter, saying Unanue praised someone who villainizes Goya’s customer base.  Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she would learn to make from scratch some of the Latin cuisine that Goya makes.  Goya did not immediately comment.  According to the Pew Research Center, 13.3% of eligible voters in the U.S. this year are Latino, a record high.Trump has been working hard recently to court Latino voters, who could swing the vote in states such as Arizona. On Wednesday, he welcomed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House with lofty language, calling Mexico a cherished partner. Trump’s tone was in stark contrast from when he kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign by referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and railed against migrants entering the United States illegally.  Goya recently donated thousands of pounds of food to families in the Bronx and Harlem who have been affected by COVID-19. The company also made a big donation to a public school in Queens. 

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Venezuela Socialist Party Leader Tests Positive for Coronavirus

The leader of Venezuela’s ruling Socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, is self-quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, making him the highest-ranking official in the South American nation to contract the virus.Cabello announced his infection in a tweet Thursday. He vowed to overcome the disease, writing, “We will win!”President Nicolas Maduro said Cabello is fine but added he will need several days of treatment and recovery.Cabello’s diagnosis comes a few days after the governor of Venezuela’s Zulia state, Omar Prieto, tested positive for the coronavirus after being treated for a respiratory illness.Venezuela has confirmed more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 75 deaths. 

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Latin America, Caribbean Are New Pandemic Hot Spot, UN Says

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Latin America and the Caribbean have become “a hot spot” for the coronavirus pandemic, with several countries tallying the highest per capita infection rates in the world.During his video briefing report Thursday, Guterres said COVID-19’s impact on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to result in the deepest recession in living memory.Guterres said in the short-term response governments should consider providing people living in poverty with emergency basic incomes and anti-hunger grants.He said the novel coronavirus is having an especially hard impact on Latin America and the Caribbean’s most vulnerable groups, who lag in access to health care services and stable employment.Guterres said indigenous people of African descent, migrants and refugees are also suffering disproportionately.In his report, Guterres said some unnamed countries in the region are not prepared to address the health and human crises created by the pandemic.The U.N. chief said the international community must provide financial help and debt relief for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

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Cameroon Truck Drivers Stuck at CAR Border After Health Officials Refuse to Accept their COVID Test Results

The trucking of goods and humanitarian aid from Cameroon to the landlocked Central African Republic has slowed to a trickle, raising tensions between the two sides.  Despite an agreement that Cameroon drivers who test negative for COVID-19 would be given access, testing kits are in short supply at the border, forcing some trucks to wait weeks to cross.El Hadj Oumarou, the head of Cameroon’s land freight transportation bureau, says hundreds of trucks at the border town of Garoua Boulay have not been given access to the Central African Republic.He says all attempts to convince C.A.R. transport and health officials that the drivers have tested negative for COVID-19 in Cameroon have failed.Oumarou says this week, Cameroon’s transport minister assured truck drivers that the C.A.R. will accept COVID-19 test results done in Cameroon hospitals. But Oumarou says, the COVID-19 test results done in Cameroon are still rejected by C.A.R. border officials. He says he is scandalized that trucks, goods and humanitarian aid are blocked at the border for several weeks.The C.A.R. and Cameroon sealed their borders in March to stop the spread of the coronavirus, after both countries recorded cases of COVID-19.  The landlocked C.A.R. entered an agreement with Cameroon to allow passage of humanitarian aid and goods from Cameroon’s seaside town of Douala to the C.A.R. capital, Bangui.According to the agreement, only truck drivers who tested negative for COVID-19 were to enter the C.A.R.  But the plan was crippled by a shortage of tests at the border.The drivers, who are mostly Cameroonians, started carrying out the tests in local hospitals. But C.A.R. officials began rejecting the results last month when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cameroon increased to more than 13,000.On Monday of this week, delegates from the two countries held a crisis meeting at Garoua Boulay, and the C.A.R. agreed to recognize COVID-19 test results carried out in Cameroon.But C.A.R. Transport Minister Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene says the decisions made at the meeting were not final.Abazene says the mixed commission that the presidents of Cameroon and C.A.R. created to manage land transport will meet to examine threats caused by COVID-19. He says only that the commission can address all the misunderstandings caused at the border as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.Abazene said that once goods and supplies are brought to the border, C.A.R. drivers will transport them to Bangui.  He said his country will also consider COVID-19 test results conducted in the C.A.R. in case the border posts run short of rapid diagnostic tests.CameroonCameroon’s minister of transport, Jean Earnest Ngale Bibehe, says Cameroon wants a solution to the crisis as soon as possible.He says the coronavirus pandemic preoccupies all governments in the world and there is no state that will want to joke over COVID-19. He says it is in the interest of Cameroon and the C.A.R. to work together and rescue their collapsing economies.The Central African Republic depends on the Douala seaport for about 95 percent of its goods and humanitarian aid. 

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Oxygen Already Runs Low as COVID-19 Surges in South Africa

The coronavirus storm has arrived in South Africa, but in the overflowing COVID-19 wards the sound is less of a roar than a rasp.Oxygen is already low in hospitals at the new epicenter of the country’s outbreak, Gauteng province, home to the power centers of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, visiting a hospital Friday, said authorities are working with industry to address the strained oxygen supply and divert more to health facilities.  South Africa Takes Part in Human Trial for Potential COVID-19 Vaccine  South Africa takes part in Africa’s first human trial for coronavirus vaccine  Some of the hospital’s patients spilled into heated tents in the parking lot. They lay under thick blankets in the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, with a cold front arriving this weekend and temperatures expected to dip below freezing.South Africa overnight posted another record daily high of confirmed cases, 13,674, as Africa’s most developed country is a new global hot spot with 238,339 cases overall. More than a third are in Gauteng.”The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving,” Mkhize said this week.A nurse at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital — the third largest hospital in the world with more than 3,000 beds — painted a bleak picture, saying new patients with the virus are now being admitted into ordinary wards as the COVID-19 ones are full.”Our hospital is overloaded already. There has been an influx of patients over the last two weeks,” the nurse said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give interviews.More and more colleagues at the hospital are testing positive daily for the virus, the nurse said, “even people who are not working in COVID wards.”  Africa Seeks Equitable Access to Any COVID-19 Vaccine  African leaders rally calling for investment to manufacture a serum at an affordable price as number of infections on continent surpasses 321,000 casesAlready more than 8,000 health workers across Africa have been infected — half of them in South Africa.Any struggles in how the country manages the pandemic will be amplified in other nations across Africa, which has the world’s lowest levels of health funding and health staffing.  The continent  as of Friday had 541,381 confirmed cases, but shortages in testing materials means the real number is unknown.South Africa’s surge in cases comes as the country loosens what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with even alcohol sales banned until June 1. Now restaurants have sit-down service and religious gatherings have resumed. The economy was hurting and needed reopening, authorities said.But nervous officials in Gauteng province have called for stricter lockdown measures to return. On Friday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced he had tested positive with mild symptoms.”We must double our efforts,” he said in a statement, urging people to wear face masks, wash their hands and distance themselves.Warning signs keep flashing. Hospital beds in all provinces could be full within the month, the health minister said this week. On Friday he said a team is looking at 2,000 additional beds for field hospitals in Gauteng.In addition to the shortage of beds, many hospitals are grappling with limited oxygen supplies to treat patients with the respiratory disease.Guy Richards, director of clinical care at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg, told the AP they are extremely worried about potential shortages.”Even a big hospital like ours has difficulty supplying sufficient amounts of oxygenation for our patients. The same thing is happening at Helen Joseph (Hospital), and this is a major problem,” he said.Tshwane District Hospital, which the health minister visited Friday, has been devoted completely to COVID-19 patients, said Veronica Ueckermann, head of the COVID-19 response team at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, which includes Tshwane District Hospital.”Currently we are stretched but we are still coping in terms of our wards, our sisters and doctors are working extremely hard,” she said. 

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Latin America, Caribbean ‘Hot Spot’ for Pandemic, UN Chief Says

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Latin America and the Caribbean have become “a hot spot” for the coronavirus pandemic, with several countries tallying the highest per capita infection rates in the world.During his video briefing report Thursday, Guterres said COVID-19’s impact on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to result in the deepest recession in living memory.Guterres said in the short-term response governments should consider providing people living in poverty with emergency basic incomes and anti-hunger grants.He said the novel coronavirus is having an especially hard impact on Latin America and the Caribbean’s most vulnerable groups, who lag in access to health care services and stable employment.Guterres said indigenous people of African descent, migrants and refugees are also suffering disproportionately.In his report, Guterres said some unnamed countries in the region are not prepared to address the health and human crises created by the pandemic.The U.N. chief said the international community must provide financial help and debt relief for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

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