Monday, February 27, 2017

Carnival! (Feb. 27, 2017)

  • Rio de Janeiro launched its carnival celebrations on Friday. More than one million visitors were expected to generate $1 billion in revenue over the five day celebration, according to Reuters. But many other cities decided to forgo festivities in light of a long recession impacting public budgets, reports the New York Times. (See last Tuesday's briefs.)
  • Brazil's biggest broadcaster, Globo, has changed the presentation of its carnival muse -- Globeleza -- presenting more demure costumes and showcasing performers who represent Brazil’s racial diversity and regional differences, reports the Los Angeles Times. A sign of more conservative times or a broader multi-ethnic consciousness?
  • Fora Temer: Thousands have used carnival festivities to showcase anger at the increasingly unpopular Brazilian president and demand his resignation, reports the Associated Press.
  • At least 20 people were injured in an accident in Rio's Sambadrome, reports the BBC.
  • Residents of Hurricane Matthew affected areas of Haiti are still waiting on government aid to help rebuild homes and businesses destroyed in the storm. And many are angered by the millions of dollars spent by officials on upcoming carnival festivities in Les Cayes, which is in the hard-hit southern area of the country that bore the brunt of the destruction, reports AFP. Though new President Jovenel Moïse intended the move from capital Port-au-Prince to benefit the local economy, critics question how much stimulation it will actually bring, according to AFP.
  • In Trinidad and Tobago this years carnival hit is a departure from the usual rum, partying and women up for grabs themes. "Leave me alone," by Calypso Rose, is about a woman trying to party on the streets without being bothered by men. It's being hailed as a feminist anthem, reports the Washington Post.
News Briefs
  • Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sat down with U.S. President Trump and told him that that Peruvians "prefer bridges to walls," reports the Wall Street Journal. Experts say PPK faces a difficult balance between pushing back at Trump's anti-trade position, and not antagonizing a key trade partner for Peru.
  • Trump seems to have a soft-spot for the so-called "Dreamers," young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have received temporary shielding under an Obama immigration program. But that attitude towards the approximately 840,000 young people is increasingly alienating his anti-immigration base, reports the New York Times.
  • There's "no chance" that Mexico will take U.S. deportees from third countries, said Mexican interior secretary Miguel Osorio Chong on Friday. His statements to the press were in response to U.S. officials' request that Mexico host the deportees while their cases are processed in the U.S. "And we told them that there’s no way we can have them here during that process," he said according to the Associated Press. Mexico is willing to let go of U.S. funding for the  $2.5 billion Mérida Initiative to fight organized crime if it comes down to that, said Osorio. "... Honestly, we have no problem, none, if they withdraw it." (See Friday's post.)
  • Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Friday that Mexico could retaliate against a potential U.S. tax on Mexican imports by placing tariffs on select U.S. goods. The tariffs would target states dependent on exports to Mexico, such as Texas, reports the BBC.
  • As the two sides flirt with a potential trade war, energy presents an area of potential mutual benefit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Volunteers in Mexico working with migrants and recent deportees are stocking up in case the promised wave of deportations actually occurs, reports the Los Angeles Times. (See Friday's post.)
  • Billionaire investor Wilbur L. Ross, Trump's nominee for commerce secretary, made a fortune based on business permitted by U.S. trade deals. But he promises to tear up NAFTA and other agreements if confirmed, reports the New York Times.
  • Mexico's populist leftist-candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has received a big boost from Trump's anti-Mexico stance, and from President Enrique Peña Nieto's unpopularity. But a group of citizens is also looking to promote party outsider Emilio Álvarez Icaza, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The campaign, officially launched yesterday, aims for a citizen candidacy, reports Animal Político. The 2018 presidential elections will be the first permitting independent candidates in Mexico, notes El País. In order to run Álvarez Icaza will have to gather 80,000 signatures from around the country. His platform focuses on demands for a shakeup of politics as usual, and human rights.
  • Trumps bluster has inspired a strand of nationalism in Mexico of uncommon proportions, reports the Washington Post.
  • People migrate south too. The Guardian interviews U.S. fútbolers seeking "new opportunities, more money and a better standard of football" (soccer) in Mexico.
  • Experts have long predicted that FARC demobilization in Colombia under the peace agreement reached last year will leave a power void that could be filled by drug traffickers and paramilitary organizations. The New York Times has a video on the issue.
  • A new Bolivian law increases the area of legal coca cultivation, reports El País.
  • The world's growing appetite for agricultural products, namely soy, is fueling a resurgence in deforestation in the Amazon basin, a decade after the "Save the Rainforest" campaign forced dramatic changes in environmental protections, reports the New York Times.
  • The low-key U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Peter Mulrean, is stepping down after a 16 month stint, in which the country went through a prolonged electoral cycle tainted by fraud, ended this month with the inauguration of President Jovenel Moïse. He also oversaw the disbursement of U.S. aid after Hurricane Matthew ravaged parts of the island last year, reports the Miami Herald.
  • A hit song in Haiti -- Madan Papa, loosely Sugar Baby -- has created a debate over an increasingly common phenomenon in the country's tough economic environment: young women entering sexual relationships with older men in exchange for financial favors, reports the Miami Herald. Though the arrangements are hardly new, cultural norms kept them under wraps in the past. "In a country marked by extreme poverty and inequality, Madan Papa, with its driving electronic dance beat, has become a social commentary, a musical reflection on the misery, sexual exploitation and erosion of values caused by years of economic and political instability."

  • Heavy rains over the weekend left millions of people without water in the area of Chile's capital, Santiago, reports Reuters.
  • The Miami Herald has a charming piece on the little known kitschy castles surrounding Quito.

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