Thursday, April 1, 2021

Concern, confusion over Bolsonaro's military shakeup (April 1, 2021)

 Brazilian lawmakers presented a new initiative to impeach President Jair Bolsonaro. They accused the president of having attempted to turn the armed forces into a political instrument, with the dismissal of the heads of the armed forces this week, which they characterized as a dangerous and destabilizing action. (See yesterday's post.) 

The removal of the top military command doesn't seem to follow political logic, according to the New York Times. The three abruptly resigned after Bolsonaro dismissed six cabinet ministers on Monday, including the defense minister. (See Tuesday's post.)

The military shakeup is particularly notable as Bolsonaro's administration is the most militarized since the country's return to democracy. The government tasked the military with high-profile tasks in pandemic management and combating rainforest deforestation, both considered failures. "By stacking his government with military men, Bolsonaro has made it so that political crises are by definition military crises, and vice versa," argues Andre Pagliarini in the Guardian. "This kind of cross-pollination is dangerous and the military bears considerable responsibility for allowing it to happen."

More Brazil
  • Bolsonaro signed an executive order to disburse $918 million in new loans to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, yesterday, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian health regulator Anvisa rejected a request from the government to import doses of Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech, citing a lack of safety data and documentation. (Reuters)
News Briefs

  • The Brazilian city of Manaus is a stark warning to the world about the importance of quickly extending vaccination campaigns to all countries, reports Scientific American. "Latin American countries—where vaccination numbers are behind the global North and infection rates are high—are fertile ground for breeding new variants."
  • Soaring contagion in Chile stems from a false sense of security given by the country's notably successful vaccination campaign, reports the New York Times. The case serves as a cautionary tale for other countries hoping vaccination will quickly end economically and socially devastating restrictions.
  • The Cuban government used the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020 as a pretext to increase arbitrary arrests, illegal home searches and sham trials, the U.S. State Department said in a new report on the country’s human rights practices. (Miami Herald)
  • Nicaragua is the only country in the region that maintained in-person teaching throughout the past year, without Covid-19 safety measures, which the Ortega government maintains are unnecessary. The decision has undermined children's access to education as many parents have refused to send their children to schools. Teachers denounce reprisals against critics, reports El País.
  • Venezuela's hospitals are collapsing under a new Covid-19 surge, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Poverty in Argentina rose to 42 percent in the second half of 2020, up from 40 percent earlier in the year, pushed by the coronavirus pandemic which worsened the pre-existing economic crisis, reports Al Jazeera. More than 57 percent of children up to age 14 lived in poverty, according to new official data.
  • A year ahead of presidential elections, Colombia is a political powderkeg, according to El País: High rates of violence, the clash over judicial independence and a lack of progress in the implementation of the peace process have combined with public health care problems, but also economic concerns, with an alarming increase in poverty and a serious lack of institutional cash flow.
  • The life sentence meted out to Tony Hernández by a U.S. federal court sends a strong message to his brother, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. (See yesterday's briefs.) But it is uncertain whether the United States will go ahead and prosecute JOH, who has long been relied upon in Central America, reports InSight Crime. (See Tuesday's post on Washington's diplomatic tightrope walk with Honduras and the White House's efforts to tackle the root causes of migration.)
  • The U.S. does not have a coherent immigration policy, writes Caitlin Dickerson in the Atlantic. While the current increase in migrants at the U.S. border is described as a "surge" immigration experts identify cycles over decades that are affected by an array of factors. "These include the cartels’ trafficking business, weather, and religious holidays as well as American politics—but perhaps most of all by conditions in the children’s home countries."
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said that the missing teenage daughter of Victoria Salazar has been found, reports Reuters. Salazar was killed by police in Mexico last weekend. (See Tuesday's post.)
  • Security camera footage appears to show Salazar having an anxiety attack before she was killed while being arrested by Mexican police in Tulum, reports El Faro.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made the military omnipresent in Mexico, deploying soldiers for everything from vaccine distribution to ocean seaweed cleanup, as well as migration duties. AMLO has found unexpected support in the armed forces, "and it's not a good idea to have a vertical and opaque organization with too much power close to a president with hegemonic vocation, scant respect for dissent, contempt for control mechanisms and bent on a systemic attack on the independent press," argues Diego Fonseca in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • The tragic story behind the grisly "death containers," containing hundreds of bodies that didn't fit in Mexico's Jalisco state morgues -- Guardian Long Read.
  • Peruvian military officials announced the death of a top Shining Path commander more than five months after an operation in which they claim he was injured in a firefight. The confirmation raises questions about authorities' timing with the disclosure, and how the absence of Jorge Quispe Palomino, alias “Raúl” might impact Shining Path moving forward, reports InSight Crime.
  • Nathália Rodrigues, one of Brazil’s most popular financial influencer-educators, has become something of a guiding light for a class of newly-banked lower-class Brazilians thirsty for financial education, reports Americas Quarterly.
Critter Corner
  • Sharon Matola, who founded the Belize Zoo "on a shoestring and a whim" and helped awaken national pride in the country’s ecological treasures, has died. The zoo she founded has been celebrated around the world as a model of creative conservation, reports the Washington Post.
  • The annual arrival of migratory grey whales at El Vizcaíno sanctuary in Mexico in pictures -- Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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