Latin American Countries Begin Mass COVID-19 Vaccinations

Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica launch mass vaccination campaigns against COVID-19, while Argentina receives first doses of Russia's controversial Sputnik V.

This week, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Argentina began their respective vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. India is reportedly negotiating trade pacts with Brazil and Argentina, and Colombia regulator fines Odebrecht, consortium members $84.5M

Latin American Countries Begin Mass COVID-19 Vaccinations

Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica have launched mass vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 beginning last Thursday, administering the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Argentina received its first doses of Russia's controversial Sputnik V.

Frontline medical staff in Mexico and Chile were among the first to receive their vaccines while Costa Rica began its own immunization program, with President Carlos Alvarado proclaiming what "may be the beginning of the end of this pandemic".

Argentina, meanwhile, received the first 300,000 doses of Russia's controversial Sputnik V vaccine last Thursday. The country is the first in Latin America to approve the Russian vaccine.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez has vowed to receive the first Sputnik V shot to prove it is reliable after criticism that it was registered before the start of large-scale clinical trials.

India Negotiating Trade Pacts with Brazil and Argentina

India is in talks with Argentina and Brazil to sign trade agreements with the two largest markets in Latin America, as India strives to strengthen commerce with the region.

Economic Times reports that India already has a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Mercosur, a trading bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. However, officials say the bloc’s internal issues have flagged the need for bilateral agreements.

The four-nation bloc has been grappling with various issues such as government changeovers and uncertainty over membership. Lately, Brazil has been pushing to deepen its relationship with India as its ties with neighboring Argentina have declined.

“We are trying for separate pacts with Brazil and Argentina[...]These two are the biggest markets in that region and have shown interest in trade pacts,” an Indian official told the Economic Times

Crehana Raises $17.5M Series A

Peruvian edtech Crehana has raised a $17.5M Series A led by Mountain Nazca. Endeavor Catalyst and Salesforce Ventures also participated in the round.

Crehana is an online learning platform for Spanish speakers that offers over 500 courses in topics ranging from business to design. The platform has also launched a portal for corporate training for companies. The company has also launched a MicroDegree program, in which participants receive a digital certificate in conjunction with universities.

The platform has grown by 300% in 2020 as many students turned to online learning during the global pandemic. The platform now has 3.5 million students learning from their homes.

Colombia Regulator Fines Odebrecht, Consortium Members $84.5M

Colombia's commerce regulator has issued fines worth a total of 295.1 billion pesos ($84.5 million USD) against members of a consortium led by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht for breaking competition rules. 

NASDAQ reports that the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) fined Odebrecht 175.6 billion pesos for its role in devising and executing a plan to restrict free competition during the award of a contract in 2010, the SIC said in a statement.

In Colombia, the company paid bribes worth $30 million in exchange for infrastructure contracts, investigations by the attorney general's office found. Odebrecht, Corficolombiana and Episol used an "anticompetitive system" to guarantee a contract was awarded to Concesionaria Ruta del Sol, the SIC said.

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