Thursday, April 14, 2022

Gold mining surged in Brazilian Indigenous reservation (April 14, 2022)

Illegal gold mining surged by a record amount last year on Brazil’s biggest Indigenous reservation, according to a new report by the Hutukara Yanomami Association. “This is the worst moment of invasion since the reservation was established 30 years ago,” said the Indigenous rights group in the report, which carried chilling accounts of abuses by miners, including extorting sex from women and girls. (Al Jazeera)

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva promised Indigenous people that he would stop illegal mining on their reservations and recognise their land claims if he wins October's presidential elections. He spoke earlier this week at a protest camp in Brasilia where several thousand members of 200 Indigenous communities have gathered to oppose plans by President Jair Bolsonaro to allow commercial agriculture, mining and oil exploration on their lands, reports Al Jazeera.

Residents of the Yanomami Indigenous Territory are particularly concerned by Bolsonaro's efforts to make inroads into indigenous territories citing Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the impact on potassium imports, reports the BBC. He has argued that by mining in Indigenous territories, Brazil can build more of its own reserves, though experts say most of the country's potassium deposits aren't even in Indigenous territories.

More Brazil
  • Two new polls maintain Lula in the lead ahead of October's presidential elections, but diverge regarding Bolsonaro's support. A poll published by Sensus puts Lula at 43.3% to Bolsonaro’s 28%. The DataPoder poll this week found a significantly smaller difference of just five points: Lula 40% and Bolsonaro 35%. (UOLVeja)

  • The strongest headwinds to Bolsonaro’s re-election come less from his most controversial policies than a weak economy and rampant inflation that are hitting the poor hardest, reports Bloomberg. If the president does have a chance of turning the tide in his favor, it’s because of his controversial cash assistance programs for Brazil's poorest families.

  • Many analysts have warned Bolsonaro could attempt to overthrow this year's presidential results if he loses his reelection bid. An actual coup is unlikely -- because of the strength of Brazil's institutions, the military's relative respect of civilian institutions, and Brazilian public opinion. But "Bolsonaro doesn’t have to be successful in his coup to cause problems and violence with his attempt to overturn the elections," argues James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report. "Analysts shouldn’t be complacent about the risks of violence and damage to the incoming government."

  • Reports of Brazilian military purchases of penile implants adds to a growing scandal over the armed forces' spending on impotence treatments, after revelations that the military had forked out for more than 35,000 Viagra pills, reports the Guardian. (See Tuesday's briefs.)
News Briefs

  • A new study quantifies how human-caused climate change fueled the historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, reports the Washington Post. In 2020, climate change increased hourly rainfall rates from tropical storms by as much as 10 percent, while hourly rainfall rates from hurricanes were as much as 11 percent higher than preindustrial conditions.

  • Huge, multi-mile traffic jams at numerous U.S. border crossings in Mexico worsened yesterday as the state of Texas maintained restrictions that require secondary inspections of commercial trucks and other vehicles, reports the Washington Post.
Regional Relations
  • Twenty years after Venezuela’s short-lived 2002 coup d’etat, CEPR analyzes the enduring legacy of the episode, and the subsequent countercoup, for U.S.-Latin American relations. The events paved the way for the subsequent "pink tide" of progressive movements across the region, and launched a U.S. foreign policy focused on countering Venezuelan influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, argues Dan Beeton.
  • Thousands of Venezuelans turned out oyesterday to march in Caracas to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the failed coup, a day that the Chavista government dubbed the “rescue of national dignity.” (EFE)

  • A group of civil society organizations expressed concern regarding plans for the ICC Prosecutor to set up a decentralized office in Caracas. Among other things, they point to "the way in which the ICC Prosecutor’s Office envisages its work with the current Venezuelan judicial system. According to its public statements, the OTP seems to assume that the current Venezuelan judicial system will be able to carry out, independently and genuinely, investigations into crimes against humanity and serious human rights violations." (WOLA)
  • The U.S. Biden administration will phase out a controversial pandemic policy permitting the government to turn away asylum seekers. Lifting use of Title 42, as it is known, will likely swell the border with migrants who view it as easier to come to the United States and claim asylum, reports the Washington Post.

  • Cuba has stopped accepting deportations of its nationals from the U.S., a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Miami Herald.
  • Mexico’s governing Morena party has moved a key vote on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s energy reform to Easter Sunday, in what critics described as an attempt to force the bill through when attendance in congress might be lower, reports Bloomberg.

  • Nexos puts the numbers from Mexico's presidential recall election on Sunday in context: if the vote had been carried out with 1000 people, 824 would not have participated, 11 would have voted in favor ending President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's mandate early, 162 would have supported the president and 3 would have annulled their vote, and 224 people would have had to participate in order to reach the 40 percent threshold required to make the vote binding. (See Monday's post.)
  • Outgoing Colombian President Ivan Duque, speaking at the UN Security Council, touted his government’s accomplishments in building peace, including steps to reintegrate more than 12,800 former rebels into society. But he warned that drug trafficking remains the “greatest enemy” to achieving peace, reports the Associated Press.
  • Duque says there is evidence and testimony that seriously implicate “practically all” of the former Colombian soldiers being held in Haiti in the assassination of that country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, reports the Associated Press.
  • Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández is to be extradited to the United States as early as next week, reports the BBC.
  • Peru's poorest have increasingly turned to "common pots” of food, a survival strategy that surfaced in Lima’s sprawling shantytowns with the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Associated Press. The approach has since expanded in the midst of rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices and a government ineffective in keeping its promise to help the most vulnerable.

  • Southern Copper Corp accused Peru’s government of failing to intervene to guarantee security for its 1,300 workers and their families, and that its Peruvian mine remains closed after six weeks of a standoff with protesters. (Reuters)
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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