Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Brazil's deadly structural racism (Dec. 8. 2020)

News Briefs

  • Two little girls killed by stray bullets in a Rio de Janeiro favela have spurred Brazil's latest reckoning over structural violence that disproportionately claims Black lives, reports the Guardian. The tragedy is only the most recent in a long string of violence and deaths this year that demonstrate Brazil's deep-seated problem with racism, activists say. “There comes a point where tears can no longer express our pain,” Thiago Amparo wrote in Folha de São Paulo this weekend, demanding: “Who will answer for the genocide that is under way?” (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Black women have flocked to Brazilian politics in the wake of Marielle Franco's assassination in 2018 -- but the generation of leaders she inspired faces systematic online harassment and violent threats. Last month 35-year-old federal lawmaker Talíria Petrone went into hiding after an assassination plot was reported. The violence faced by Black women in Brazilian politics is another reflection of structural racism, Open Society Foundations' Latin America Director Pedro Abramovay told El País. The violent paramilitary groups believed to have killed Marielle have also been emboldened by alleged ties to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Coronavirus vaccination will be mandatory for the 45 million residents of Brazil's São Paulo state, according to governor João Doria. It's the latest salvo in an ongoing political tussle between Doria and President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal coronavirus skeptic and opponent of obligatory vaccination. Vaccines can be legally required in Brazil, though it's less clear whether and how such a law would be enforced, reports the Washington Post.
  • Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez describes the experience of being vilified by official media after participating in San Isidro Movement protests in a New York Times Español op-ed: "Anger is the generalized sentiment among Cubans, the constant discomfort, incorporated ... On the streets of communism we walk like one who wears high-heels to traverse cobblestone, until some, desperate by the contortions, sprain their ankle. ... What the San Isidro Movement expresses then, like a pained articulation, is the demand of a lesioned country."
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has proposed stripping U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents of diplomatic immunity and requiring them to hand over all information they collect to the Mexican government. The move is apparently in response to the recent arrest (and subsequent release) of former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos in the U.S., but will be a challenge for bilateral relations for the two countries moving forward, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexico is a major importer of surveillance software, which officials say is critical to battle major cartel groups. But the surveillance kit has also been used to target individuals not accused of any wrongdoing, including human rights activists. And officials are accused of colluding with criminal groups, reports the Guardian as part of the Cartel Project series coordinated by Forbidden Stories.
  • The U.S. extended Temporary Protected Status benefits, which were set to expire early next month for an estimated 400,000 immigrants from Haiti, Nepal and Central America. The extension means that the TPS beneficiaries, including nationals of Sudan as well as Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, can continue to legally live and work in the United States for the next nine months and — for now — avoid being placed in deportation proceedings, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Contractors hired by the U.S. Trump administration to build the vaunted border wall with Mexico relied on illegal Mexican guards to protect construction sites, reports the New York Times based on whistleblower accounts. Additionally, the supposedly impenetrable wall has been repeatedly breached and required repairs as a result.
Regional Relations
  • Latin America is economically stagnating and marginal, as the rest of the world promotes greater diversification of its markets, argue Nicolás Albertoni and Jorge Heine in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Access to abortion in Argentina, or lack thereof, is directly linked to women's socio-economic status, writes Estefanía Pozzo in el Post Opinión. As activists chant at marches in favor of legalization: "Rich women abort, poor women die."
  • Argentine officials are exploring how to use DNA testing to curb cattle rustling, "fresh methods to fight a deeply entrenched criminal economy," reports InSight Crime.
  • Former Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez, the Frente Amplio leader who ended 170 years of two-party dominance in 2005, died of lung cancer last weekend. (Washington Post) "The least flashy leader of the 2000s “Pink Tide” was one of its most effective," writes Nicolás Saldías in Americas Quarterly.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...   

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