Brazil

Lula accuses Bolsonaro of 'genocide' of Yanomami

Brazil's government declared a public health emergency on Jan. 20 for the Yanomami indigenous people, now plagued by rising death rates from malnutrition and curable diseases such as malaria, flu and diarrhoea. President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva flew to the remote Yanomami territory in Roraima state after horrifying photographs emerged of emaciated Yanomami children and adults. The trip coincided with an an emergency airlift of 16 starving Yanomami to receive urgent treatment. After his visit, Lula tweeted: "More than a humanitarian crisis, what I saw in Roraima was genocide: a premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government insensitive to suffering."

Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazilian congress

Crowds supporting former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on Jan. 8 infiltrated and vandalized the country's seats of power, one week after the inauguration of left-wing President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva. Demonstrators smashed the windows of the the National Congress building and stormed its senate chamber. Protesters then breached the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), entering the main courtroom clad in Brazillian flags. Many also forced their way into the Planalto Palace, the presidential building. In an event eerily reminiscent of the January 2020 attack on the US Capitol, a large mass of protesters could be seen gathering outside the National Congress building while others streamed into its hallways and chamber. Protests have also been reported outside the country's Presidential Palace. Clashes between police and protesters have been reported, but one journalist tweeted a video of what appears to be a Federal District Military Police officer taking a selfie with demonstrators.

Tough congress for Brazil's new indigenous caucus

In Brazil's Oct. 2 general elections, five self-identified indigenous candidates won seats as federal deputies and two as senators—the highest number in the country's history. The most celebrated victory was that of Sônia Guajajara, a leader of her own Guajajara people in Maranhão state who has emerged as a voice for indigenous peoples on the national stage, and now takes a seat as deputy. But this new "Bancada do Cocar" (Feathered Headdress Caucus) will face tough odds in a generally more conservative National Congress. More seats were won by supporters of the reactionary outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, and especially the Bancada Rural (Rural Caucus, dominated by the agribusiness lobby), in both the lower and upper houses. (Mongabay)

Brazil: cyberattack on 'Democracy Manifesto'

Faculty at the University of São Paulo produced a "Manifesto for Democracy" in response to threats by President Jair Bolsonaro not to respect the results of Brazil's upcoming elections if he loses. The letter was released and read aloud at an event at the university on Aug. 11—the date of the release of a similar manifesto in 1977, opposing the military dictatorship then in power. The letter has accrued more than 800,000 signatures. However, the day before the manifesto's release, the computer system collecting the signatures was debilitated by a "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attack. The IP addresses indicated that the attack originated in Russia. (Brazilian Report)

Colombia joins 'new partnership' with NATO

US President Joe Biden issued an executive order May 23 that designates Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States, under terms of the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act. The designation will facilitate further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is now the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Other MNNAs include Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. On May 2-6, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country's participation in the alliance's Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO's newest "global partner" in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (More at El Espectador)

Brazil: bill to open indigenous reserves to mining

Under the slogan "Ato Pela Terra" (Stand for the Earth), thousands of protesters, including some 150 indigenous leaders from eight ethnic groups, gathered for the biggest environmentalist demonstration ever held in Brazil's capital on March 9, protesting a series of bills dubbed the "death package" by critics. The package being pushed by President Jair Bolsonaro would open indigenous reserves to a wide range of economic activities, including mineral exploitation. This measure, assailed as unconstitutional, is actually opposed by the Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM), which issued a statement calling it "inappropriate" and warning that it would give legal cover to informal "garimpo" mining in the Amazon rainforest. But Bolsonaro maintains the measure is mandated by the Ukraine war, which has threatened supplies of strategic minerals, including the key fertilizer ingredient potassium. Brazil, the world's top soy producer, imports 80% of its fertilizer—20% from Russia, its biggest supplier. (Mongabay, TRT World)

French troops hunt outlaw miners in Guiana

France has dispatched hundreds of army troops to the overseas territory of French Guiana, to hunt down outlaw gold miners who have destroyed thousands of hectares of rainforest along the Maroni River over the past months. But apprehending the garimpeiros is nearly impossible; they abandon their camps and dredges and melt into the jungle as the troops approach. Some 9,000 illegal miners are believed to be operating at around 150 sites across the territory—up from little more than 100 a decade ago. The garimpeiros, however, are the smallest links in a chain, paid a pittance—while the dealers they sell the gold to race up and down the river in speedboats. "We're only catching the little guys," admitted French Guiana's public prosecutor Samuel Finielz. (AFP)

'Net-zero' skeptics march in Glasgow

Thousands marched in Glasgow as the COP26 climate summit entered its second week Nov. 6, demanding ambitious and concrete proposals on limiting global warning to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels—the lowest target under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Police arrested 21 people, including members of the Scientist Rebellion movement who had chained themselves to the King George V Bridge over the River Clyde in Glasgow's city center. A UN Climate Change Update on Nationally Determined Contributions issued two days earlier found that even with the new pledges made thus far at COP26, emissions are still set to rise 13.7% by 2030. To be compliant with the 1.5C goal, they must fall 45% by that year.

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