Thursday, April 25, 2019

Indigenous people protest Bolsonaro's Amazon onslaught (April 25, 2019)

Land and environmental rights in Brazil's Amazon are rapidly becoming a flashpoint in President Jair Bolsonaro's administration. Up to 4,000 indigenous people from all over Brazil are expected to join the annual Brasilia rally --  the Free Land Camp. (Al Jazeera

This year demonstrators are galvanized by the Bolsonaro administration's assaults on indigenous rights and the environment, reports the Guardian. Bolsonaro has promised to weaken indigenous land protections and free up commercial farming and mining in environmentally protected areas.

"This government came in immediately attacking us and our rights in a way we haven't seen before," said Paulo Tupiniquim, executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil, which organized the event. "We are here to show that we will resist and will not accept our rights being taken away."

Brazilian loggers and cattle ranchers are pushing Amazon deforestation, and dominated statistics for worldwide clearcutting of primary forest, according to a new report by the Global Forest Watch network. (Guardian

A report by Amazon Watch tracked supply chain flows between 56 Brazilian companies complicit in illegal logging and the Western firms that trade with them. It showsEuropean and North American importers bought from suppliers whose subsidiaries or owners have recently been fined by Brazil's environmental enforcement agency for illegal logging, reports Deutsche Welle.

Earlier this week Heriberto Araújo argued that 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, he wrote in a New York Times Español op-ed. (See also this Deutsche Welle report, and Common Dreams.)

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."

And Bolsonaro's push to cut scientific research funding could have dire implications for the fight against climate change, reports National Geographic.
News Briefs

More Brazil
  • Bolsonaro's contentious pension reform passed a lower house committee vote yesterday, but overhaul still has a long legislative path ahead, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Monday brief referenced the anti-crime legislation that Bolsonaro's justice minister recently proposed to Congress. Reader Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela, an Anthropology doctoral candidate at Princeton University, pointed out a critical aspect of the bill: that "it widens the legal protection for police officers who kill on-duty, with the option to waive legal consequences." (See more at Estadao and The Intercept.)
  • There are increasing reports of appalling gang-related violence in Haiti, including stories that gangs set homes in Port-au-Prince's La Saline neighborhood on fire last week, reports the Miami Herald. Last month, a bipartisan group of 104 U.S. lawmakers called for an independent investigation into the extrajudicial killings, as well as allegations of human-rights violation by the Haitian National Police during February’s violent protests. (See Margaret Prescod's reporting on a massacre in La Saline in November that killed at least 77 people.)
  • Guatemala's electoral court annulled Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana's presidential candidacy yesterday, reports the Associated Press. Estrada was detained in Miami last week, on on drugs and weapons charges, accused of illicit electoral financing and plotting to assassinate political rivals and let traffickers use Guatemalan ports and airports if he were to be elected. (See also Nómada, which reports on President Jimmy Morales's relationship with Estrada.)
  • Guatemalan presidential candidate and former attorney general Thelma Aldana said the DEA alerted her in March to an alleged assassination plot against her orchestrated by Estrada. Aldana, who is currently in El Salvador, said the DEA recommended she stay out of Guatemala. (Prensa LibreCNNSoy 502)
  • Nicaragua's government rejected early elections yesterday, after a meeting with the OAS, reports Reuters. Opposition groups and the OAS insist on early elections as an exit to the country's year-long political crisis, reports Confidencial.
  • Nicaragua's economy is in free-fall as a result of the political crisis and government repression, said the country’s leading business association. (Associated Press)
  • Peruvian authorities should immediately take action to ensure the safety of journalists at news website IDL-Reporteros, and officials should refrain from making inflammatory statements blaming the outlet and its director, Gustavo Gorriti, for the suicide last week of former President Alan García, said the Committee to Protect Journalists. Multiple political figures, including a former minister and a sitting member of Congress, publicly named Gorriti as one of the people responsible for García's death. (See last Friday's briefs.)
  • Seven people were shot dead inside a gold-mining tunnel in Peru's La Rinconada. (Reuters)
  • Over the past four months, Venezuela's National Assembly has attempted to create a legislative framework for a democratic transition, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Several dozen diplomats walked out from the UN General Assembly Wednesday to protest a speech by Venezuela's foreign minister, reports AFP.
  • Argentina's peso fell to a record low yesterday, and stocks and bonds also dropped, amid rising market panic over President Mauricio Macri's ability to contain inflation with increasingly unorthodox economic strategies and win the October presidential election. (ReutersFinancial Times and Financial Times)
  • Peru will sign a memorandum of understanding to join China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in coming days, reports Reuters.
  • And Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao will travel to China next month ... (Reuters)
  • Reuters has an in-depth report on Mexico's campaign to save NAFTA after Trump's election. Early on, leaders decided to avoid confrontation, instead focusing on convincing dozens of American politicians and business executives that scrapping the free-trade agreement would hurt U.S. workers and companies.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the government could hold an informal referendum for citizens to weigh in on whether five ex-presidents should be subject to investigations and possible prosecution for corruption, reports EFE.
  • AMLO's promise to treat migrants humanely and distribution of humanitarian visas for Central American asylum seekers crossing the country contributed to a 300,000 person flood in the first months of this year, reports Animal Político. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • A Mexico city lawmaker proposed banning cold beer sales in an effort to reduce public and underage drinking. Needless to say, there was social media backlash: The hashtag #ConLasCervezasNo (Don’t mess with our beers) trended on Twitter, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian police captured a parrot trained to alert its drug gang owners about police raids -- the bird has not cooperated with authorities, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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