Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bolsonaro's Amazon destruction (April 23, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is the greatest threat to the Amazon rainforest since Brazil's military dictatorship. His plan to exploit the area's resources for economic development is environmentally disastrous, but will also foment already crushing inequality, argues Heriberto Araújo in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Bolsonaro's damage to the Amazon and the indigenous tribes who live there is well underway and is likely lethal, writes Alma Guillermoprieto in a stirring review of Claudia Andujar’s photographs of the Yanomami tribe for the New York Review of Books. "Beyond the legislation turning over the Amazon and its indigenous communities to the Agriculture ministry, beyond the spending cuts and hostile decrees, beyond whatever legal predations are to follow, there is a new sense that any landowner or industrialist who feels like shooting an Indian or two, or clearing a few thousand acres for cattle-ranching, may do so with impunity."
  • Militias run by rogue police officers are increasingly influential in Bolsonaro's Brazil, reports Bloomberg.
  • Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão is increasingly viewed as a moderate voice in the government, countering Bolsonaro's more extreme views, reports AFP. (See last Thursday's briefs for Americas Quarterly's take on the same issue.)
  • Bolsonaro's latest publicity stunt -- an Easter motorcycle ride -- appears to have infringed on several transit laws, at the very least setting a terrible example of how to drive a motorcycle, reports the Guardian.
  • Russia accused the U.S. of orchestrating crippling blackouts in Venezuela. In an interview, Russia's deputy defense minister backed President Nicolás Maduro's claim that a series of outages in recent months are part of a U.S. sabotage program aimed at ousting the legitimacy-challenged leader. (Guardian)
  • It's been three months since Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself the country's interim president. Efecto Cocuyo has a recap of what's happened since.
  • Venezuela's Maduro government announced two marches to counter a massive demonstration Guaidó is planning for May 1, reports AFP. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Regional Relations
  • The newest Americas Quarterly issue is dedicated to China's relationship with Latin America -- "deep, sophisticated and increasingly under some strain," according to editor Brian Winter. "China is now Latin America’s second-biggest trading partner behind only the United States ... But there are also signs of a backlash."
  • Reuters reports on how China's Belt and Road initiative is powering clean energy developments in Argentina.  
  • Cuban authorities appear to have consulted many other countries’ constitutions in redrafting their own. But China's 1982 constitution, which formalized the country’s economic reforms appears to have particularly influenced President Miguel Díaz-Canel, write Luis Carlos Battista and Ricardo Barrios in World Politics Review. They argue that this suggests "Cuba's leadership are hoping to follow the Chinese experience of embedding market economics into a socialist state," but that "Cuban authorities’ lackluster record of reform stands in contrast to China’s decisive efforts leading up to 1982."
  • U.S. tightening of the economic embargo against Cuba will impact the island's private sector, but authorities have little choice but to double-down on economic reforms, argues Ricardo Torres at the AULA Blog.
  • Escraches -- grass-roots organized public protests focused on humiliating individuals -- have become a potent anti-corruption weapon in Paraguay. In a country where anti-corruption measures have lagged behind others in the region, several prominent senators have resigned as a result of the protests, and prosecutors have opened investigations and filed charges against several other officials as a result, reports the New York Times.
  • A new Plaza Pública investigation does a deep-dive into Guatemala's arms markets -- the country is over armed and unsafe, a situation that has proved lucrative for private security companies.
  • Violence is still increasing in Mexico, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is facing a backlash over his muted reaction to a criminal gang related massacre this weekend, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Critics are concerned that AMLO's energy and big infrastructure-focused policies clash with his campaign promises to fight climate change, reports U.S. News and World Report.
  • Mexican police and immigration agents detained about 500 Central American migrants yesterday. They targeted the the tail end of a caravan of about 3,000 migrants traveling through Chiapas en route to the U.S. border, reports the Associated Press. Migrant reception has gotten colder in Mexico, after an initial warm welcome last year. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • An Honduran transgender woman who was granted asylum in the U.S. was released from Ice custody last week -- she was held for a further seven months while U.S. authorities appealed the asylum. (Guardian)
  • Chile's leftist political parties have been in disarray and in conflict since President Sebastián Piñera took office last year. Party leadership is out of touch with citizen concerns and have proved unable to offer a coherent  opposition vision, writes Viviana Giacaman in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Argentina's recurring economic woes "are related to two long-run economic handicaps: insufficient exports and a feeble currency," writes economist Eduardo Levy Yeyati in Americas Quarterly.
  • Argentina's economic crisis is once again pushing educated youths to try their luck elsewhere, mostly Europe. (Associated Press)
  • Colombian president Iván Duque is "an ode to nothing" writes Omar Rincón in a New York Times Español op-ed that rips into the leader, accusing him of obeying his political mentor former president Álvaro Uribe and playing Donald Trump's game.
  • The death toll of a Cauca region mudslide on Sunday rose to 28 yesterday, reports the BBC. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • A science experiment aims to test how the rain forest will react to increased carbon dioxide levels in the future. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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