Monday, November 1, 2021

Brazilian police kill 25 in raid (Nov. 1, 2021)

Brazilian police killed at least 25 people in a warlike operation against a heavily armed criminal gang yesterday. Authorities said they launched what they called an unprecedented offensive against the heavily armed group, which has been behind a series of elaborate bank heists in southern Brazil, after learning members were planning another robbery in Minas Gerais state. (Guardian, Associated Press)

The death toll underscored the extraordinary violence Brazilian police are willing to use during police operations, notes the Washington Post.

The so-called cangaço gangs have been responsible for a series of shock-and-awe bank heists in Brazil in recent years, often targeting banks in mid-sized cities in the interior of southern and southeastern states. The robberies are elaborately planned, well choreographed and executed by well-financed and professionalized criminal groups equipped with the weaponry and gadgetry of war.  

News Briefs

More Brazil
  • Amazon environmental activists say COP26 delegates shouldn't trust the “greenwashing” promises of Brazil's government. President Jair Bolsonaro's administration hopes to use the conference to burnish a tattered international climate reputation, but climate activists say the world should pay more attention to the destructive policies of the recent past than vague promises about the future, reports the Guardian. Other Brazilians seek to give an alternate perspective: While the official Brazilian pavilion will promote agriculture, a rival Brazil Climate Action hub will highlight the emissions-cutting efforts of Amazonian states, indigenous communities and civil society groups.

  • Bolsonaro’s security detail allegedly used violence against Brazilian reporters covering his trip to Rome for the G20 meeting, reports Reuters.

  • For the first time, Indigenous communities in Brazil's Amazon Javari Valley are mounting a unified defense against missionaries, using legal tools against the unwanted and, they say, at times illegal religious advances into their territories -- Washington Post
  • Colombia's Amazon has faced increased environmental and security risks since the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC. A new report by Fundación Ideas para la Paz found that the intensification of resource grabbing and illegal economic activities such as illicit crops and drug trafficking, mining, livestock and agriculture, not only fueled environmental degradation and deforestation in the region, but also that also increased violence.
  • The climate crisis has made life in many Guatemalan Indigenous villages more precarious, leading some to risk the dangers of migration to the U.S., reports the Guardian.
  • The U.S. Biden administration is making another attempt to end the Remain in Mexico program that a court ordered be reinstated. “I have concluded that there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, wrote in the new justification for ending the program, officially named Migrant Protection Protocols. (New York Times)

  • Backlash against anti-corruption efforts in Central America has thwarted initiatives aimed at dismantling entrenched graft in Guatemala and Honduras, and contributes to the poverty and inequality that pushes people to migrate, reports Reuters

  • People desperate to reach the United States are increasingly attempting to cross the border by sea, though the cross from Tijuana to San Diego is one of the most difficult places for people to cross along the Mexico-U.S. border. A woman died, and 36 people were detained after they tried to swim around a metal border fence that stretches into the sea there, this weekend, reports the Washington Post.

  • Migrant parents separated from their children during the U.S. Trump administration's “Zero Tolerance” border crackdown are in talks with the Biden administration to receive financial compensation  -- payouts could total $450,000 per person, with some families potentially receiving $1 million, reports the Washington Post.
El Salvador
  • Photographer Tariq Zaidi's negotiated access to the brutal world of El Salvador's street gangs, his images from between 2018 and 2020 document the vicious dystopia that parts of El Salvador had become: “When then-President Trump was calling Central American migrant caravans ‘criminals’ and the like, I wanted to explore what kind of life these people were leaving behind.” (Guardian)
  • El Salvador’s legislature has taken drastic steps to undermine judicial independence and limit accountability since President Nayib Bukele’s supporters in the Legislative Assembly took office on May 1, 2021, said Human Rights Watch in a new analysis. 
  • A new Citizen Lab investigation revealed that Wish Win, a renowned Latin American political communications agency, is running a network of websites and Facebook pages made to look like news outlets, in order to disseminate misinformation campaigns in Honduras. These efforts are intensifying ahead of the country's upcoming presidential elections, reports Rest of World.
  • Alex Saab will now be arraigned on charges of money laundering in a U.S. federal court on Nov. 15, two weeks later than originally planned. One of his lawyers told Reuters that the Colombian businessman accused of high level corruption as an ally of Venezuela's Maduro government would plead not guilty.
  • Chile's far-right presidential candidate José Antonio Kast cemented his lead over leftist Gabriel Boric in the latest Cadem poll just three weeks before the highly-contested elections. Kast now has 24% of support from voters, while Boric, the former front-runner, has 19%, reports Bloomberg. In third place, Senator Yasna Provoste, representing center-left coalition Unidad Constituyente, was backed by 11% of those surveyed.
  • In a prerecorded address on Friday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned increased gang violence and said the country is not running out of fuel, despite severe shortages related to criminal groups. (Al Jazeera)
  • The case of an 11-year-old who is 22 weeks pregnant has reignited the debate around abortion in Bolivia. The United Nations office in Bolivia called on authorities in a statement to protect children’s rights, adding that “to submit a girl to undergo a forced pregnancy is a form of torture.” (Washington Post)

  • The case has thrown into sharp relief the gaping holes in the state’s protection for women and girls in Bolivia, which has one of highest levels of inter-familiar sexual violence and abuse in Latin America, and what some activists call a culture of rape, reports the Guardian.
  • Mexican journalist Alfredo Cardoso died from his injuries yesterday after being shot two days earlier.  Cardoso, a photojournalist from the violent, southwestern state of Guerrero,  was the second reporter to be killed in less than a week in the country, reports Reuters.
  • Former Argentine Mauricio Macri was again subpoenaed Friday as part of a probe into a wiretapping scandal, after the President Alberto Fernández signed a decree that lifted secrecy provisions to permit Macri's testimony. The investigation is looking into allegations that Macri's government spied on relatives of 44 sailors who died in the sinking of a navy submarine in 2017. (AFP)

  • A former IMF official said Argentina is "not going to pay" the Fund and any agreement between the two will be a "temporary Band-Aid" that will only delay a run on banks, reports Reuters.
Regional Relations
  • Bolivian President Luis Arce and his Peruvian counterpart, Pedro Castillo, signed a set of agreements to boost bilateral cooperation this weekend. (Telesur)
  • Latin American fiction writers have turned Gothic, drawing on a legacy of dictatorship, poverty and sinister folklore, reports the Guardian.
Día de los Muertos
  • Yesterday's Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City may have been the biggest ever -- Washington Post photo essay.

  • Día de los Muertos is a rich and complex tradition that has increasingly infiltrated popular culture the world over, reports the New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing


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