As Amazon Fires Become Global Crisis, Brazil’s President Reverses Course – The New York Times

By Ernesto LondoñoManuela Andreoni and 

“RIO DE JANEIRO — As an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.

The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.

As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.

On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.”

 – The New York Times

In Ecuador, cameras across the country send footage to monitoring centers to be examined by police and domestic intelligence. The surveillance system’s origin: China.

By Paul MozurJonah M. Kessel and Melissa Chan


QUITO, Ecuador — The squat gray building in Ecuador’s capital commands a sweeping view of the city’s sparkling sprawl, from the high-rises at the base of the Andean valley to the pastel neighborhoods that spill up its mountainsides.

The police who work inside are looking elsewhere. They spend their days poring over computer screens, watching footage that comes in from 4,300 cameras across the country.

The high-powered cameras send what they see to 16 monitoring centers in Ecuador that employ more than 3,000 people. Armed with joysticks, the police control the cameras and scan the streets for drug deals, muggings and murders. If they spy something, they zoom in.

This voyeur’s paradise is made with technology from what is fast becoming the global capital of surveillance: China.”

Source: Made in China, Exported to the World: The Surveillance State – The New York Times

Opinion | Juan Guaidó: Venezuelans- Strength Is in Unity – The New York Times

Quote

By Juan Guaidó
Mr. Guaidó is leading the effort to remove Nicolás Maduro from office.

Jan. 30, 2019,  369 c

CARACAS, Venezuela — On Jan. 23, 61 years after the vicious dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez was ousted, Venezuelans once again gathered for a day of democratic celebration.

Pérez Jiménez was fraudulently elected by a Constituent Assembly in 1953. His term of office was scheduled to expire in 1958. But rather than calling for free and transparent presidential elections, he was undemocratically re-elected after holding a plebiscite on his administration late in 1957. Following widespread protests and a rupture within the military establishment, the dictator left the country and Venezuela regained its freedom on Jan. 23, 1958.

Once again we face the challenge of restoring our democracy and rebuilding the country, this time amid a humanitarian crisis and the illegal retention of the presidency by Nicolás Maduro. There are severe medicine and food shortages, essential infrastructure and health systems have collapsed, a growing number of children are suffering from malnutrition, and previously eradicated illnesses have re-emerged.

We have one of the highest homicide rates in the world, which is aggravated by the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters. This tragedy has prompted the largest exodus in Latin American history, with three million Venezuelans now living abroad.

I would like to be clear about the situation in Venezuela: Mr. Maduro’s re-election on May 20, 2018, was illegitimate, as has since been acknowledged by a large part of the international community. His original six-year term was set to end on Jan. 10. By continuing to stay in office, Nicolás Maduro is usurping the presidency.

My ascension as interim president is based on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, according to which, if at the outset of a new term there is no elected head of state, power is vested in the president of the National Assembly until free and transparent elections take place. This is why the oath I took on Jan. 23 cannot be considered a “self-proclamation.” It was not of my own accord that I assumed the function of president that day, but in adherence to the Constitution.”

via Opinion | Juan Guaidó: Venezuelans, Strength Is in Unity – The New York Times

Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman – NYT

Quote

By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman
Dr. Fearnside is an ecologist based in Brazil; Mr. Schiffman is an environmental journalist.

Sept. 26, 2018

The Trump administration is not the only government that has been busy slashing funds for environmental protection. Brazil has been doing the same.

While Mr. Trump makes no bones about his desire to roll back environmental laws, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, a signatory of the Paris climate agreement, has sent mixed signals. To his credit, Mr. Temer pledged in Paris to cut his country’s carbon dioxide emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

His actions since then tell a different story. Last year, the Environment Ministry’s budget was cut nearly in half, as part of a national austerity plan amid Brazil’s punishing recession. And the agency responsible for protecting Brazil’s vast system of indigenous reserves is being virtually dismantled by draconian staff cuts.

via Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – The New York Times

David Lindsay:: Behaviors similar to what are described here have occurred in Iran, which is turning into a dessert . In a century or two, Brazil might be in Iran’s predicament. US military intelligence predicts that Iran will have 50 million climate change drought refugees in the next 30 to 50 years. Brazil too, could turn itself into a dessert.

Opinion | The Men Who Terrorize Rio – The New York Times

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — More than two months have passed since the assassination of Marielle Franco, a human rights defender who was a member of Rio’s City Council. But the killing remains unsolved. The most probable hypothesis, according to Brazil’s public security minister, Raul Jungmann, is that local militias were behind her death.Militias in Brazil are different from paramilitary groups in other countries. Their origins here can be traced back to the 1970s, the days of the military dictatorship, when off-duty police officers formed death squads to execute criminals and political opponents, according to José Cláudio Souza Alves, a sociologist who studies the groups.

With 10 Million Acres in Patagonia- a National Park System Is Born – The New York Times

Two Americans snapped up large swaths of land in Chile, which they donated to a new conservation area that will be three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone…
NYTIMES.COM

 

“COCHRANE, Chile — An eagle soared over the lone house atop an arid hill in the steppes of Patagonia Park.

In the valley below, not far from the town of Cochrane, President Michelle Bachelet announced the creation of a vast national park system in Chile stretching from Hornopirén, 715 miles south of the capital, Santiago, to Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, where Chile splinters into fjords and canals.

The park is the brainchild of Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and her husband, Douglas Tompkins, who founded The North Face and Esprit clothing companies, and starting in 1991, put $345 million — much of his fortune — buying large swaths of Patagonia.”

via With 10 Million Acres in Patagonia, a National Park System Is Born – The New York Times

The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians – The New York Times

“SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — On April 30, a group of ranchers armed with rifles and machetes attacked a settlement of about 400 families from the Gamela tribe, in the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, an advocacy group, 22 Indians were wounded, including three children. Many were shot in the back or had their wrists chopped.

Soon after the attack, the Ministry of Justice announced on its website that it would investigate “the incident between small farmers and alleged indigenous people.” (Minutes later, the word “alleged” was removed.)”

Mud Erased a Village in Peru- a Sign of Larger Perils in South America – The New York Times

“BARBA BLANCA, Peru — A sheet of mud covers the village. Lampposts are bent sideways. Rooftops sit blocks from their homes. The nave of the village church is filled with sludge.

A catastrophic mudslide essentially erased Barba Blanca from the map last month. Yet somehow all 150 people who lived here in this Peruvian village managed to escape.

“A miracle,” said Diego Blanco, a 27-year-old construction worker, looking out from a hillside perch onto the ruined homes of his family members.

Large parts of South America have been pummeled for weeks by torrential rains that are wreaking havoc throughout the western region of the continent. Floods and destructive mudslides in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia have killed hundreds and displaced thousands more.”

Amazon Deforestation- Once Tamed- Comes Roaring Back – The New York Times

“A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world. That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.

In the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rain forest, deforestation rose in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade, to nearly two million acres from August 2015 to July 2016. That is a jump from about 1.5 million acres a year earlier and just over 1.2 million acres the year before that, according to estimates by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

Here across the border in Bolivia, where there are fewer restrictions on land clearance, deforestation appears to be accelerating as well.”