Temer backtracks on opening up Amazon reserve (Sept. 26, 2017)
Brazil's government backtracked on a controversial decree that would have opened up a large Amazon reserve to commercial mining, reports the BBC. A court had already suspended the measure, saying changes in the Renca reserve's status had to pass through Congress. (See Aug. 31's briefs.)
Conservationists are hailing the move as a victory, reports the Guardian, which calls "a humiliating reversal" for President Michel Temer. His August announcement that he was abolishing a protected area of 17,800 square miles caused widespread anger among critics who said the move would threaten important biodiversity and indigenous communities.
Earlier this month Greenpeace already denounced illegal mining activity in the area. Investigators flying over the Renca reserve found at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips used by miners. (See Sept. 20's briefs.)
The ongoing gun battle between rival drug factions in Rio de Janeiro's Rocinha suggests significant turmoil in the city's underworld, according to InSight Crime. "Whether or not security forces will be able to curtail, and ultimately end, the conflict remains to be seen."(See yesterday's post.)
Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza accused U.S. President Donald Trump of acting like "the world’s emperor" in a U.N. speech, reports the Associated Press. Experts have been warning that Trump's belligerent stance feeds into the Venezuelan government's anti-imperialist narrative and also rubs regional allies the wrong way.
Natural disasters, like the hurricanes that have destroyed swathes of the Caribbean or the earthquakes that hit Mexico this month, are a boon for organized crime, explains Oliver Leighton Barrett in an interview with InSight Crime. "In post-disaster situations there is often a breakdown in governance and institutions, even if only temporarily. This means the bad guys are going to have room to play. There will be a vacuum that they can exploit. When security forces are concentrated on disaster response and rescue efforts, they don't have time to focus on the criminal element, whether that be opportunists or organized crime groups."
Puerto Rico's governor warned of a "humanitarian crisis occurring in America", and called for more aid, reports the BBC. San Juan's major international airport is barely functioning, reports the Miami Herald.
Puerto Rico's hurricane recovery efforts will be dramatically hindered by preexisting problems with food insecurity, poor health care and resource-starved public transit, argues Lauren Lluveras in the Conversation.
An interview with the U.S. State Department's outgoing assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, William Browning, demonstrate confusion and lack of consensus in Washington over how to direct drug policy in the region, reports Insight Crime.
Brazil's government is opening up new areas of oil reserves for foreign investors, reversing a decision a decade ago to keep those deep sea discoveries for its state-run oil firm, Petrobras, reports the Wall Street Journal. However, the crude reserves are now worth just a fraction of what they could have garnered in 2007. And Brazil desperately needs the foreign investment, according to the WSJ.
Mexican officials have opened an investigation into whether the school building that collapsed last week, killing 19 children and six adults, was up to code, reports the New York Times. The Enrique Rébsamen school quickly became emblematic of the tragic toll of last week's earthquake.
In rural areas, residents whose homes collapsed in the earthquakes have essentially lost everything, reports the New York Times. In San Francisco Xochiteopan, residents have little faith in government aid, and worry that a U.S. crackdown on undocumented migrants will affect remittances that will be vital for rebuilding.
In an emotional New York Times Español op-ed, Enrique Krauze lauds Mexicans' generosity of spirit and assistance in times of need.