Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Police brutality in Rio (June 3, 2020)

Frequent police killings in Rio de Janeiro -- where the victims are often black men and youths -- are an issue of increasing concern in Brazil, even as the issue of police brutality against people of color gets worldwide traction. In the first four months of 2020, Rio police, by their own count, killed 606 people, and police violence surged in April despite Covid-19 lockdowns, writes Human Rights Watch's César Muñoz Acebes in Americas Quarterly

A black 14-year-old killed in a Rio de Janeiro police raid last month, João Pedro Matos Pinto, has become a symbol of the violence meted out by security forces against black men and boys in Brazilian favelas, reports the Guardian. A protest on Sunday in Rio, under the slogan "Black Lives Matter" was broken up by security forces, and another is planned next Sunday. With police violence against black people an international topic, many are comparing Pinto's death to George Floyd's. (See Monday's post.)

News Briefs

More Brazil
  • A Folha de S. Paulo analysis of government data found that Covid-19 deaths might be 140 percent higher than what the Ministry of Health has reported.
  • Brazil's large, and often invisible, class of domestic workers are particularly vulnerable during the country's coronavirus pandemic -- both in terms of health and economy, writes Mauricio Sellmann Oliveira in The Conversation.
  • Rainforest deforestation around the world increased last year to the equivalent of a football pitch disappearing every six seconds, according to new satellite-based analysis. The heaviest reduction was in Brazil, but the biggest surge in forest loss was in Bolivia, where fires led to an 80 percent greater reduction in tree cover than in any previous year on record, reports the Guardian.
  • U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden is critical of the Trump administration's lack of engagement with Latin America, but "even if he is elected, a return to some kind of Obama-era status quo seems unlikely," warns Russell Crandall in Americas Quarterly.
  • Latin America has become the global coronavirus epicenter, despite aggressive and early action by many governments in the region, reports the Washington Post. Old blights -- poverty, inequality, corruption, lack of faith in institutions -- became stumbling blocks for efforts to stall the disease, which has, in turn, exacerbated many pre-existing societal problems. "Countries that tried to enforce complete lockdowns haven’t been able to maintain them for long as hunger mounts, misinformation spreads and distrust grows."
  • How to exit confinement is a major challenge governments in the region face, and the lessons from the rest of the world don't always apply, warns Inter-American Development Bank official Carmen Pagés in the Post Opinión. Developing protocols to avoid human contact in public transportation, education and work, she warns.
  • Bolivia’s electoral tribunal reached an agreement with the country’s political parties to hold general elections by Sept. 6, reports Reuters. An election redo was scheduled for May but postponed due to Covid-19, prologuing Bolivia's irregular political situation in the wake of President Evo Morales' ouster in November of last year. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Time is Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's great enemy -- and the Chavista strategy of wearing down his political movement has been abetted by opposition bumbling, argues Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • The U.S. sanctioned four shipping firms for transporting Venezuelan oil, yesterday, reports Al Jazeera.
  • A decision announced last week to send U.S. troops into Colombia to help against drug trafficking is controversial, reports InSight Crime. Areas of concern include fears that the Trump administration will pressure the Colombian government into resuming aerial eradication of coca plants, and that the deployment has, reportedly, not been approved by the Colombian congress.
  • More than 110 indigenous and social leaders, human rights defenders and former combatants have been murdered this year -- on Sunday Joel Villamizar became the latest leader to be murdered, in Norte de Santander, reports Telesur.
  • A group of 15 organizations of civil society asked the U.S. to take a stance on revelations that Colombia's military intelligence was profiling journalists, activists and political leaders, reports Caracol. (See May 4's post.)
  • An estimated 131.000 people are subjected to forced labor in Colombia, an issue of increasing relevance in a country approaching a 20 percent unemployment rate and in which 5.4 million jobs were lost in April, writes Sinar Alvarado in a New York Times Español op-ed
  • The brutal 2016 assassination of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras was not without warning, documents Nina Lakhani in a new book that delves into the case and the long-shot for justice in a country where "impunity reigns supreme." (Guardian)
  • A new film, Radio Silence, documents Mexican investigative journalist Carmen Aristegui's struggle with censorship after she was fired in 2015, over the 22 months it took her to get back on the air, reports the Guardian.
  • IMF officials say Argentina can still improve its restructuring offer on $65 billion of debt with foreign creditors as it continues negotiations after slipping into default last month, reports the Financial Times.
  • The IMF is is discussing a loan of about $250 million for Ecuador, which faces a selloff in crude oil and one of Latin America’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks, reports Bloomberg.
  • Ecuador is starting talks with creditors, and officials aim to release an initial debt restructuring offer late this month, reports Bloomberg
  • The IMF said it has increased overall financing access for Honduras to about $531 million, immediately releasing $233 million, more than five times the amount initially approved -- Reuters.
Ni Una Menos
  • Today is the fifth anniversary of the Ni Una Menos movement, which started in Argentina in 2015. Activists can't gather in the streets to protest gender violence, due to coronavirus restrictions, but are taking their demands for responses to femicide to social media, reports Página 12. Though the movement has had high impact in Argentina and regional echoes, activists note that there were 1450 femicides in the country since its launch.

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