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Cuba to Give Covid Vaccines to 2-Year-Olds

Cuba will begin vaccinating children as young as 2 against the coronavirus this week, making it the only country so far to immunize children that young.

The United States and many European countries currently allow Covid-19 vaccinations for children 12 and older. U.S. regulators could authorize a vaccine for children 5 to 12 later this year.

Chile has begun vaccinating children 6 and older. China and the United Arab Emirates are now vaccinating children as young as 3.

Cuba’s health regulator, the Center for State Control of Medicines and Medical Devices, approved pediatric vaccination at the beginning of September. Last week, the country started immunizing 13- to 17-year-olds.

Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing in Cuba as the Delta variant spreads rapidly across the island. Cuba has recently been reporting an average of 70 new infections a day for every 100,000 residents, one of the highest rates in the Western Hemisphere.

Cuban children are being immunized with Soberana 2 and Soberana Plus, two domestically developed vaccines. Clinical trials in adults, and to a limited extent in children, have shown that the combination is more than 90 percent effective at protecting against the coronavirus, Cuban officials have said. But data from the trials have not been published in peer-reviewed international journals.

Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, a division of the World Health Organization, called on Cuba in June to “publish the data in a transparent way.”

“There’s a lot of things going for it, there is a need, and they are using established technology,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said about the Cuban program. “But I’m concerned about the level of regulatory oversight.”

Cuban scientists said that they have submitted papers to peer-reviewed journals, and are awaiting publication. They stressed that the Soberana vaccines use a technology similar to the one already in use in Cuba’s vaccines against other diseases.

“This is not an RNA vaccine, with no history, being administered to children,” said Dr. Vicente Vérez, the lead developer of the vaccines.

Early trials in children have shown only routine side effects and “a high degree of safety, which is what’s most important,” said Dr. José Moya, the Pan American Health Organization representative in Cuba.

Schools in Cuba have been closed through most of the pandemic, and the high cost of internet access has made online learning impossible for most children. Officials and frustrated parents are keen to get children back to school, but the reopening of classrooms has been postponed repeatedly.

So far, 56 percent of Cuba’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 37 percent are fully vaccinated. The country’s health ministry aims to vaccinate more than 90 percent of the population by December.

The pandemic has pushed Cuba’s vaunted health system to the breaking point. A shortage of medicines, medical oxygen and coronavirus tests have increased social tensions, prompting anti-government protests in July. Mexico shipped supplies of oxygen to Cuba last month, and activists in the United States sent two million syringes.

U.S. economic sanctions imposed during the Trump administration have slowed vaccination efforts by making it more complicated and expensive to import materials. Production of Soberana 2 was halted for weeks in the spring when supplies of a vital component dwindled, Dr. Vérez said.

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Latinoamerica

Canada’s Election: What You Need to Know

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called a snap election last month — two years ahead of schedule — he has struggled to explain why he thinks it’s necessary.

The last general election, in 2019, left his Liberal Party in a weakened position, able to govern only with the support of opposition lawmakers in Parliament. This time, Mr. Trudeau says, he needs a strong mandate to bring the pandemic under control and lead Canada to economic recovery.

But his rivals have called the election a power grab — and an unnecessary one, since Mr. Trudeau has largely been able to enact his legislative agenda.

They also said it was reckless to hold an election at a time when coronavirus cases are rising and restrictions are being reimposed.

Still, Mr. Trudeau is hoping that the 36-day campaign — the shortest election period allowed by law — pays off with the majority that eluded his party last time. The Liberals were heading into Election Day in a statistical tie with their main opponents, the Conservative Party, led by Erin O’Toole.

During the short campaign, Mr. Trudeau has argued that only a majority Liberal government can beat the coronavirus and set a path to recovery. But the other parties have supported his pandemic response all along, including his plans for vaccine procurement and delivery, and his popular economic aid programs.

The public approved, too. The Liberals’ standing rose in the polls, and Mr. Trudeau’s personal approval ratings soared. Most political analysts say he called the election to take advantage of that popularity, rather than risk an election two years from now, when memories may have faded.

If that was the idea, it seems to have backfired. Since he called the election, Mr. Trudeau’s poll numbers, and his party’s, have fallen.

On the campaign trail, his rivals have attacked his character (as they have throughout his political career), pointing to a series of ethical missteps and accusing him of putting his interests above the nation’s.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trudeau — a Canadian celebrity since his birth in 1971, when his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was prime minister — has drawn large crowds to his rallies, with people eager to pose for selfies with him.

Canada has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, but in some areas, the Delta variant has driven case numbers up and hospitals are close to capacity. The western province of Alberta, which had lifted its restrictions, reimposed most of them during the campaign. Public health leaders are now warning of a fourth wave.

Mr. Trudeau supports vaccine mandates for travel and for federal workers, as well as vaccine passports. Mr. O’Toole opposes them.

Climate change: Since Mr. Trudeau first took office in 2015, he has made climate change a top priority, introducing, among other measures, a national carbon tax.

The Conservatives, who opposed such taxes for years, came to this campaign with their first carbon tax plan. Many analysts have called it inadequate, but its existence made it impossible for Mr. Trudeau to paint the party as unwilling to take any action at all on global warming.

Gun control: At the start of the campaign, Mr. O’Toole promised to repeal a ban on 1,500 different models of military-style assault rifles. But Mr. O’Toole seemed to abandon that plan quickly; polling in Canada consistently shows strong support for tight gun restrictions.

The economy: Canada has recovered nearly all the jobs lost by the pandemic. Mr. Trudeau’s pandemic spending on vaccines and economic support, though, has left large debts and deficits. After criticizing those deficits, Mr. O’Toole unveiled similar spending plans. He also promised to balance the budget within 10 years, a time frame that most economists say is too distant to be credible.

The election itself: In some ways, Mr. Trudeau’s decision to hold an election during a pandemic has crowded out other questions facing the country. During the candidates’ recent French-language debate, the subject came up 13 times.

Even before this campaign, the Conservatives had consistently pounded Mr. Trudeau over China, arguing that he had been ineffective in dealing with Beijing.

China’s incarceration of two Canadian businessmen — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — has been a source of tension for almost three years. It has been seen as retaliation for Canada’s detention, at the United States’ request, of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

After Mr. O’Toole said in a debate that Mr. Trudeau was not tough enough with China, the prime minister retorted, “If you want to get the Michaels home, you do not simply lob tomatoes across the Pacific.”

Afghanistan has also been an issue. Mr. Trudeau called the snap election the same weekend that Kabul fell to the Taliban. His opponents said the timing interfered with Canada’s mission to rescue Afghan refugees and criticized the government for not acting earlier to help them.

Mr. Trudeau’s relationship with former President Donald J. Trump was famously antagonistic. Mr. Trump called him “very dishonest and weak,” and imposed trade sanctions on Canada, arguing that its steel and aluminum exports were a threat to American national security. Relations between Canada and the United States have calmed since President Biden came to office, and the issue was rarely raised during the campaign.

Mr. O’Toole has criticized the prime minister for Canada’s absence from a new security alliance between Canada, Britain and the United States that was part of a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. Mr. Trudeau has said that Canada is not in the market for nuclear submarines, and that the arrangement does not detract from existing alliances.

In the months leading up to the election, Canadians were shocked by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children. The discoveries renewed a national discussion about reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous communities, which has been another of Mr. Trudeau’s top priorities.

Jagmeet Singh of the left-of-center New Democratic Party has accused Mr. Trudeau’s government of dealing too slowly with Indigenous concerns, as with a missed target to bring clean drinking water to all reserve communities within five years.

All 338 of Canada’s electoral districts, each represented by a member of the House of Commons, will hold an election today. The party that wins the most seats gets to form the government and make its leader the prime minister.

Canadians have 12 hours to vote. The last polls close in British Columbia at 7 p.m. Pacific time, or 10 p.m. Eastern. But Canadian elections are generally decided in Ontario and Quebec, the most populous provinces.

Canada still votes with paper ballots and pencils, and they all must be counted by hand before the results become clear well into Monday evening or early Tuesday morning.

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Haiti Protests Mass U.S. Deportation of Migrants to Country in Crisis

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The first Haitians deported from a makeshift camp in Texas landed in their home country Sunday amid sweltering heat, anger and confusion, as Haitian officials beseeched the United States to stop the flights because the country is in crisis and cannot handle thousands of homeless deportees.

“We are here to say welcome, they can come back and stay in Haiti — but they are very agitated,” said the head of Haiti’s national migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva. “They don’t accept the forced return.”

Mr. Bonheur Delva said the authorities expected that about 14,000 Haitians will be expelled from the United States over the coming three weeks.

An encampment of about that size has formed in the Texas border town of Del Rio in recent days as Haitian and other migrants crossed over the Rio Grande from Mexico. The Biden administration has said it is moving swiftly to deport them under a Trump-era pandemic order.

On Sunday alone, officials in Haiti were preparing for three flights of migrants to arrive in Port-au-Prince, the capital. After that, they expect six flights a day for three weeks, split between Port-au-Prince and the coastal city of Cap Haitien.

Beyond that, little was certain.

“The Haitian state is not really able to receive these deportees,” Mr. Bonheur Delva said.

The Haitian appeal for a suspension of deportations appeared likely to increase the pressure on the Biden administration, which is grappling with the highest level of border crossings in decades.

President Biden, who pledged a more humanitarian approach to immigration than his predecessor, has been taking tough measures to stop the influx, and the administration said this weekend that the Haitian deportations are consistent with that enforcement policy.

But the migrants are being sent back to a country still reeling from a series of overlapping crises, including the assassination of its president in July and an earthquake in August. Only once since 2014 has the United States deported more than 1,000 people to the country.

As the sun beat down Sunday in Port-au-Prince, more than 300 of the newly returned migrants milled close together around a white tent, looking dazed and exhausted as they waited to be processed — and despondent at finding themselves back at Square 1. Some held babies as toddlers ran around playing. Some of the children were crying.

Many said their only hope was to once again follow the long, arduous road of migration.

“I’m not going to stay in Haiti,” said Elène Jean-Baptiste, 28, who traveled with her 3-year-old son, Steshanley Sylvain, who was born in Chile and has a Chilean passport, and her husband, Stevenson Sylvain.

Like Ms. Jean-Baptiste, many had fled Haiti years ago, in the years after the country was devastated by an earlier earthquake, in 2010. Most had headed to South America, hoping to find jobs and rebuild a life in countries like Chile and Brazil.

Recently, facing economic turmoil and discrimination in South America and hearing that it might be easier to cross into the United States under the Biden administration, they decided to make the trek north.

From Mexico, they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States — only to find themselves detained and returned to a country that is mired in a deep political and humanitarian crisis.

In July, the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated, setting off a battle for power. A month later, the impoverished southern peninsula was devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and the Caribbean nation’s shaky government was ill-equipped to handle the aftermath.

According to a United Nations report released last week, 800,000 people have been affected by the quake. A month after it struck, 650,000 still need emergency humanitarian assistance.

Many of the migrants who stepped off the plane Sunday have little to return to.

Claire Bazille left home in 2015, and had a job cleaning office buildings in Chile’s capital, Santiago. It wasn’t the dream life she had left Haiti to find, but she got by, even sending money home to her mother each month.

When Ms. Bazille heard that it was possible to enter the United States under the Biden administration, she left everything behind and headed north, joining other Haitians along the way.

On Sunday, she was put on a plane and returned to where it had all begun for her.

Only now, Ms. Bazille’s family’s home in Les Cayes had been destroyed in the earthquake. Her mother and six siblings are living in the streets, she said, and she is alone with a small child, a backpack with all their belongings, and no prospect of a job.

“I don’t know how I will survive,” said Ms. Bazille, 35. “It was the worst decision I could have taken. This is where I ended up. This is not where I was going.”

At least a dozen of the migrants said they felt tricked by the United States. They said they had been told by uniformed officials that the flight they were getting on was bound for Florida. When they learned otherwise, some protested but were placed on board in handcuffs, they said.

“I didn’t want to come back,” said Kendy Louis, 34, who had been living in Chile but decided to head to the United States when construction work dried up. He was traveling with his wife and 2-year-old son, and was among those who were handcuffed during the flight, he said.

The director of migration and integration at the Haitian office of migration, Amelie Dormévil, said several of the returnees told her they had been cuffed by the wrists, ankles and waist during the flight.

After the first plane carrying the deportees landed, the first to climb out were parents with babies in their arms and toddlers by the hand. Other men and women followed with little luggage, save perhaps for a little food or some personal belongings.

Amid confusion and shouting, the Haitians were led for processing at the makeshift tent, which had been set up by the International Organization for Migration.

Some expressed dismay at finding themselves back in a place they had worked so hard to escape — and with so few resources to receive them.

“Do we have a country?” asked one woman. “They’ve killed the president. We don’t have a country. Look at the state of this country!”

Haitian officials gave them little cause to think otherwise.

Mr. Bonheur Delva said “ongoing security issues” made the prospect of resettling thousands of new arrivals hard to imagine. Haiti, he said, cannot provide adequate security or food for the returnees.

And then there is the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am asking for a humanitarian moratorium,” Mr. Bonheur Delva said. “The situation is very difficult.”

After the earthquake in August, which killed more than 2,000 people, the Biden administration paused its deportations to Haiti. But it changed course last week when the rush of Haitian migrants crossed into Texas from the border state of Coahuila, Mexico, huddling under a bridge in Del Rio and further straining the United States’ overwhelmed migration system.

The deportations have left Haiti’s new government scrambling.

“Will we have all those logistics?” Mr. Bonheur Delva said. “Will we have enough to feed these people?”

On Sunday, after being processed, the migrants were given Styrofoam containers with a meal of rice and beans. The government planned to give them the equivalent of $100.

After that, said Mr. Bonheur Delva, it will be up to them to find their own way.

Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting from Mexico City.

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Yolanda López, Artist Who Celebrated Working-Class Women, Dies at 78

Yolanda López, an artist and activist who created one of the most famous artworks in Chicano history by boldly recasting the Virgin of Guadalupe in her own image — as a young, strong, brown woman wearing running shoes and a wide grin — died on Sept. 3 at her home in San Francisco. She was 78.

The cause was complications of liver cancer, said her son, Rio Yañez, also an artist.

Ms. López made other types of work, including conceptual art installations and political posters, but her 1978 painting “Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe” is by far her most acclaimed and widely reproduced. It has appeared over the years in art books, feminist histories and Chicano anthologies. It has shown up on T-shirts and tattoos. And along with similar work by Patssi Valdez and Ester Hernández, it inspired younger generations of Latina artists to rethink the Roman Catholic icon, a vision of the Virgin Mary popular with Mexicans and Mexican Americans.

In essence Ms. López took Guadalupe, the paragon of demure femininity, and liberated her. The Virgin’s heavy, voluminous robe is restyled as a short, sporty dress. Her star-studded blue mantle becomes more of a superhero cape. She is running instead of stuck in place, and she looks joyful.

Jill Dawsey, who curated an exhibition of Ms. López’s work scheduled to open in October at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego — her first museum survey — called it “a striking revision of Guadalupe, divested of her colonialist and patriarchal origins and transformed into an image of radical feminist optimism.” (It was radical enough that Ms. López periodically received death threats.)

Few realize just how many versions of the Virgin of Guadalupe she created, including at least 20 collages and photomontages done as studies. Her finished image of the running Virgin was part of a larger triptych that celebrates working-class Chicanas of different ages and body types — and the idea of matriarchy itself. One image has her heavyset mother mending the Virgin’s mantle at a sewing table. Another has her grandmother seated on top of the piled fabric as if it’s a throne, casually holding a knife and a snakeskin.

A dedicated feminist and activist in the Chicano movement, Ms. López also made explicitly political work. In 1978, she created a poster for the Committee on Chicano Rights that exposes the hypocrisy of much anti-immigration sentiment by showing a man in an Aztec headdress pointing to the viewer like Uncle Sam with the message “Who’s the illegal alien, PILGRIM?”

In the late 1990s she made a series of popular prints, “Woman’s Work Is Never Done,” to recognize the power of women’s labor, from farm work to child rearing. But the dissemination of her work never created an income stream for her, and she scraped by through teaching as an adjunct instructor at different colleges in the Bay Area.

“All of the work in our show was borrowed directly from the artist, not galleries or museums, and that tells you something,” Ms. Dawsey of the San Diego museum said. “Her priority was always her politics and ethical commitments. She never catered to the institutional art world, which has notoriously neglected Chicano artists.”

Yolanda Margarita López, the oldest of four daughters, was born on Nov. 1, 1942, in San Diego to Mortimer López and Margaret Franco. Her father left early, and she was raised by her mother and maternal grandparents in a largely secular household. Her mother worked as a seamstress for the U.S. Navy base in San Diego, among other employers, and a childhood dream of Ms. López’s was to become a costume designer.

Frustrated by the conservative values of her hometown, she left the day after she finished high school to live near San Francisco with her uncle and his boyfriend. In 1965, she enrolled in San Francisco State College (now University), where she joined activist groups like the Third World Liberation Front, which sought curriculum, hiring and admissions reforms for students of color. She participated in its five-month-long strike, which resulted in the creation of an ethnic studies college and a Black studies department.

In 1969, she was a founding member of a group called Los Siete de la Raza that sought justice for seven young Latino men charged with killing a police officer. (They were later acquitted.) She designed its newspaper, ¡Basta Ya!, as well as some posters, including one that rotated the American flag so that the stripes looked like prison bars across the men’s faces. According to Karen Mary Davalos, chair of Chicano and Latino studies at the University of Minnesota, Emory Douglas of the Black Panthers acted as a mentor by showing Ms. López inexpensive newspaper layout and cut-and-paste techniques.

She later returned to Southern California, completing her B.A. at San Diego State University in 1975. The next year she began studying for an M.F.A. at the University of California San Diego.

Her graduate show featured three important bodies of work: the Guadalupe triptych, done in oil pastel and paint on paper; a series of acrylic-and-oil self-portraits, “¿A Dónde Vas, Chicana? Getting Through College”; and a suite of eight-foot-tall charcoal drawings she made of herself, her mother and grandmother on butcher paper. These drawings were meant to show “ordinary” women, she wrote in an exhibition guide, to counter “the lack of positive representations of Latin Americans as normal, intelligent human beings” and “the continued use of such stereotypes as the Latin bombshell and the passive, long-suffering wife/mother.”

“¿A Dónde Vas, Chicana?” grew from a new pastime: running. During her M.F.A. program she discovered a love for running, as both a form of exercise and a way to get around town without a car. This led to a series of self-portraits that show her running through the hills of La Jolla and past the edgy new modernist buildings on campus. The works show her claiming her ground as a Chicana woman in an overwhelmingly white community. “I was the only graduate student in the visual art department who was a person of color,” she said in a 2020 interview.

After she and her partner, René Yañez, returned to San Francisco, they had their son, Rio, in 1980. They had separated by the end of the decade.

Ms. López increasingly turned to making art out of found objects and images. In 1985 she created a mock-educational installation displaying patently stereotypical Mexican-themed souvenirs, calling it “Things I Never Told My Son About Being a Mexican.”

One of her last artworks was a collaboration with her son. In 2014, after receiving eviction notices for her apartment in the Mission District, Ms. López created an “eviction performance” with his help by selling her clothes, jewelry and household goods at the Galería de la Raza. It was a garage sale that doubled as an art exhibition — and, Rio Yañez said, “It was also a way to make a lot of noise about the eviction.” (She did end up staying in her apartment after a community organization stepped in and bought the building.)

Information on survivors other than her son was not immediately available.

Most recently Ms. López returned to her earlier artworks by making small reproductions on card stock, the size of business cards, to share with friends and colleagues. Many had sayings on the back. They were meant to be put in one’s wallet or pocket, like laminated prayer cards. She called them “pocket posters.”

“Her approach never involved making masterpieces for the elites,” Professor Davalos said. “She was always looking for ways to put art in people’s hands.”

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