Monday, August 24, 2020

Bolsonaro answers uncomfortable question with threats (Aug 24, 2020)

 “President Jair Bolsonaro, why did your wife Michelle receive 89,000 reais from Fabrício Queiroz?” The question forms part of a coordinated Twitter campaign Brazilian journalists launched after the country's leader ducked the query in person. 

Actually, Bolsonaro said that he would like to "smash in" the face of the journalist from O Globo who asked him about payments into his wife’s bank account by a former police officer with alleged links to Rio de Janeiro's criminal world.

Earlier this month, local media reported that a former aide to one of Bolsonaro's sons, Fabricio Queiroz, deposited 72,000 reais in checks in the first lady’s account between 2011 and 2018. Queiroz was an aide to now Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son, when he was a Rio de Janeiro state legislator. The former aide is under arrest in an investigation into bank deposits made at the time amounting to 1.2 million reais ($213,500).

(Guardian, Reuters, AFP)

More Brazil
  • "Coronavirus has proved an intensely political story, as well as a humanitarian one, and perhaps nowhere more so than Brazil," writes Tom Phillips in the Guardian.
News Briefs

  • The abduction of five Garifuna men from a town on Hondura's Caribbean coast has highlighted racial tensions in the area, and the increasingly repressive tactics used against local indigenous communities, reports Vice News. Locals think the kidnapping, carried out by armed men in police uniforms, was orchestrated by the powers behind efforts to seize land occupied by Garifuna communities like these.
  • Meteorologists say this might be one of Atlantic's worst hurricane seasons on record -- pummeling the Caribbean which is already reeling from Covid-19. (Guardian)
  • Eight people were killed this weekend when Tropical Storm Laura struck Haiti and the Dominican Republic, reports AFP.
Regional Relations
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro joked that buying missiles from Iran would be a good idea -- riffing off an accusation by Colombian President Iván Duque that Maduro is looking to buy Iranian missiles and is handing over weapons made in Russia and Belarus to Colombian armed groups. "It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us ... what a good idea, to speak with Iran to see what short, medium and long range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.” (Reuters)
  • New mortality figures reviewed by the New York Times suggest that Bolivia's real pandemic death toll is nearly five times the official tally, indicating the country has suffered one of the world’s worst epidemics. About 20,000 more people have died since June than in past years, according to the NYT's analysis of civil registry data. Bolivia's ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic was hindered by poor health infrastructure, but also political chaos.
  • Bolivia's justice ministry filed a criminal complaint against former president Evo Morales for statutory rape and human trafficking in connection to his alleged relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Morales said the case is politically motivated by the government ahead of upcoming elections in which interim-president Jeanine Áñez is running. The alleged victim, however, accused the police of forcing her to say she had a relationship with Morales, in a letter sent to Bolivia’s Ombudsman’s office, reports Reuters.
  • Corruption allegations -- and allegedly incriminating videos of cash payments to politicians -- are flying in Mexico. Though it's not clear whether any of the significant accusations, involving former presidents and high level aides, will stick, politicians across the spectrum are trying to leverage them to their advantage, reports the Washington Post.
  • While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been able to exploit the accusations against his predecessors to political benefit, it is less clear that the legal case will proceed apace, argues Luis Pérez de Acha in the New York Times Español.
  • AMLO has sought to use the episodes to burnish his anti-corruption credentials, but was put on the spot on Friday after two videos emerged showing his younger brother accepting an envelope and a brown paper bag stuffed full of cash in 2015 for the president’s political movement, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Juan Carlos Moreno was sentenced to 50 years in prison in Mexico, for ordering the assassination of journalist Miroslava Breach in 2017. (BBC)
  • Check out Aviso LatAm, a new Covid-19 newsletter by the Atlantic Council.
  • There are signs that coronavirus is slowing in Mexico and Brazil. (Reuters and Reuters)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean are among the world regions most dependent on tourism, and they are feeling the economic impact of Covid-19 acutely, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Peru's Covid-19 economic crisis has pushed even more people into informal labor, reports EFE.
  • At least 13 people were crushed to death or asphyxiated during a police raid on a Lima nightclub over alleged violations of restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Six more people were injured, including three police officers, reports Reuters.
  • Remittances to Guatemala totaled more than US $1 billion in July —a new historic record that indicates "the resilience of Guatemalans living abroad, and of their ability to reinvent themselves in a time of economic and social instability exacerbated by a still-raging pandemic," argues Mario Arturo García in Plaza Pública. (El Faro translation.)
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is angling to revamp the military's image. He is not the first post-war leader to use the army as a political tool, writes Ruth Eleonora López in El Faro. But Bukele's administration has "been the first in El Salvador’s history to use the defense institution to usurp another government agency and later admit that the action was a means of applying political pressure," she argues, in reference to Bukele's brief military takeover of the National Assembly in February.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.


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