Monday, February 28, 2022

Bolsonaro contradicts Brazil's diplomats on Ukraine (Feb. 28, 2022)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declined to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, yesterday. He also departed from his government's official stance at the United Nations to say Brazil would remain neutral, reports Reuters

"We will not take sides, we will continue being neutral, and help with whatever is possible," Bolsonaro said. In reference to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Bolsonaro said Ukrainians have "placed the hope of their nation in the hands of a comedian."

On Friday, Brazil voted for a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would have denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The council "must react swiftly on the use of force against the territorial integrity of a Member State," said Brazil's U.N. ambassador. Mexico, also supported the draft resolution, citing the invasions of the country by the United States and France, and rejecting the use of force. (United Nations)

Russian allies in the region, Cuba and Venezuela have claimed the U.S. and NATO are responsible for the current crisis. (Axios)

The United Nations Security Council voted yesterday to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly today to debate Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

News Briefs

More Regional Relations
  • There are a number of possible (and non-mutually exclusive) explanations for Bolsonaro's contortions on Russia, ranging from Brazil's long-standing efforts to maintain multipolar relations to an effort to enlist the support of Russia’s influential fake news purveyors and cyber warriors for a seemingly long-shot candidacy, reports the Brazil Research Initiative.

  • As the Russian invasion of Ukraine puts the world back into Cold War mentality, Brian Winter analyzes how Latin American governments on both the left and the right have sought to adopt “non-aligned” posture on the conflict between the U.S. and China, seeking middle ground between Washington and Beijing. "This posture ... is arguably the region’s most important foreign policy development since the end of the Cold War," he writes in a Foreign Affairs essay. The modern-day "non-alignment" concept currently gaining traction in Latin America "involves a foreign policy that is “equidistant” between Washington and Beijing, neither subservient to nor hostile toward either."
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran prosecutors have charged the former president Alfredo Cristiani over the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests. Prosecutors also announced charges against a dozen other people, including former military officers, over the massacre. The list of charges will apparently include murder, terrorism and conspiracy, reports the Associated Press.

  • Tourism to El Salvador, particularly from the U.S., has surged since the country's adoption of bitcoin as legal tourism, according to the country's tourism minister. (Market Insider)
  • A bombardment carried out by Colombia's armed forces killed 23 FARC dissidents last Thursday as part of a military offensive to seize control of an area in the northeast of the country which sits on the border with Venezuela, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico's efforts to investigate the country's nearly 100,000 disappearances are painfully insufficient. There are 52,000 unidentified people in morgues and cemeteries, where the charred remains are measured only by weight, reports the Associated Press. "Disappearances are considered the perfect crime because without a body, there’s no crime. And the cartels are expert at ensuring that there is no body."

  • Mexican criminal organizations are increasingly sourcing their weapons from Central America, a shift that is picking up as the Mexican government makes one of the strongest attempts yet to stop arms trafficking from the U.S. into Mexico, reports Business Insider.
  • Paraguay is making a name for itself as a destination on the organized crime map, including serving as a home base for traffickers and gangs from neighboring Brazil, reports InSight Crime.
  • Covid-19 disrupted Brazil's Carnival celebrations for a second year, but thousands defied an official ban on street parties by dancing, singing and mingling to the rhythm of Samba this weekend, reports the Associated Press.

  • Critics say the decision to cancel the city's street parties -- blocos -- is hypocritical, given that Rio is largely back to normal life. And others questioned that indoor parties, for a fee, were allowed. (Reuters, Associated Press)

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has hit domestic workers in Brazil particularly hard, reports IPS.

  • Recife is one of the fattest cities in Brazil. It is also quickly becoming one of the world’s most accommodating places for people with obesity, reports the New York Times.
  • Members of Mexico's Nuestra Pesca project, an artisanal fishing collective started by chef Erik Guerrero, are using the Japanese ike jime method, which aims to reduce fish trauma, to improve the quality of catches and help sustainability, reports the Guardian.
  • It's time to revive “spouge”: "a joyfully relentless, funky, syncopated beat that sits in a zone somewhere between vintage soca, inside-out ska and classic blue-collar soul," created by singer Jackie Opel in the 1960s -- Guardian.
More Carnival
  • Jacmel's Kanaval's celebrations are a showcase for Haiti’s artists and a trip through the looking glass for animal lovers. The town’s festivities are renowned for the papier-maché masks that don’t so much depict animals as conjure visions of them, reports Atlas Obscura.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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