Brazil 2019

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Brazil 2016-18

Norway halts Amazon fund donation in dispute with Brazil
International concerns grow over deforestation surge since Jair Bolsonaro took power
(The Guardian) Norway has followed Germany in suspending donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon Fund after a surge in deforestation in the South American rainforest.
After weeks of tense negotiations with Norway and Germany, the Bolsonaro government unilaterally closed the Amazon Fund’s steering committee on Thursday. The fund has been central to international efforts to curb deforestation although its impact is contested.

7 August
Bolsonaro rejects ‘Captain Chainsaw’ label as data shows deforestation ‘exploded’
Data says 2,254 sq km cleared in July as president says Macron and Merkel ‘haven’t realized Brazil’s under new management’
(The Guardian) The far-right populist repeated claims that his administration – which critics accuse of helping unleash a new wave of environmental destruction – was the victim of a mendacious international smear campaign based on “imprecise” satellite data showing a jump in deforestation.
According to a report in the Estado de São Paulo newspaper, Amazon destruction “exploded” in July with an estimated 2,254 sq km (870 sq miles) of forest cleared, according to preliminary data gathered by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the government agency that monitors deforestation.
That is an area about half the size of Philadelphia and reportedly represents a 278% rise on the 596.6 sq km destroyed in July last year.

28 July
Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall
(NYT) The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.
Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.
But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.
While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.
Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the government agency that tracks deforestation.
In June alone, when the cooler, drier season began and cutting trees became easier, the deforestation rate rose drastically, with roughly 80 percent more forest cover lost than in June of last year.

14 July
He’s the Rush Limbaugh of Brazil. He has Bolsonaro’s ear. And he lives in rural Virginia.
(WaPo) For years, Olavo de Carvalho has recorded and uploaded lectures and rants from his home office in rural Virginia for consumption in his native Brazil — videos, blog posts and social media riffs laced with obscenities, homophobia and dark proclamations about a globalist conspiracy bent on enacting what he calls a “worldwide socialist dictatorship.”
Now that message is enjoying its moment. Carvalho, 72, a self-styled philosopher living in a self-imposed exile in the United States, is credited by supporters and critics alike for providing the intellectual spark that ignited the rapid rise of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — the newest member in a global cadre of right-wing populists, from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Hungary’s Viktor Orban to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte to President Trump.
… Carvalho is poised to take his message beyond Brazil. Former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who says he’s met with Carvalho frequently, wants to install him as a lecturer at a training camp in Europe for the next generation of right-wing thinkers, if such a project moves forward, and feature him in televised debates. “A seminal thinker,” Bannon called him in an interview.

7 July
João Gilberto obituary
One of the most important figures in Brazilian music who was known as the father of bossa nova
An evening with João Gilberto, the bright wallflower of bossa nova
(The Guardian) João Gilberto, who has died aged 88, was one of the most important and best loved figures in Brazilian music, who played a key role in the development of bossa nova in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Along with the composer Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim, he created a romantic, reflective new style in which samba rhythms were mixed with influences from the American “cool jazz” scene. As a guitarist, he pioneered a new technique that mixed the syncopated plucking of acoustic guitar chords with jazz-influenced harmonies and chord progressions, while as a singer his style was laid-back and understated.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has so far issued no official reaction to the death of a national hero – neither in print nor on the social media he is so fond of.
Brazil pays homage to ‘greatest artist’ Gilberto
Tributes pour in after the legendary artist, who pioneered bossa nova music, dies at the age of 88 in Rio de Janeiro.
… During Brazil’s military dictatorship years from 1964 to 1985, a time former army captain Bolsonaro often speaks of with nostalgia, the regime at times banned protests, engaged in censorship and tried political prisoners before military tribunals.
Large numbers of opposition members and artists were arrested, and many of them went into exile. Among them were Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.

5 July
Brazil: calls grow for Bolsonaro ally to quit after ‘devastating’ report on leaks
In new disclosures, conservative magazine Veja says Sergio Moro, who led Operation Car Wash, guilty of serious ‘irregularities’

4 July
‘A Brutal Violation of Press Freedom’: Glenn Greenwald Targeted With Investigation by Brazilian Government After Reporting on Corruption
(Common Dreams) “Criminally investigating journalist Glenn Greenwald for reporting on corruption within the Bolsonaro government is a shocking violation of his rights as a reporter.”
The Brazilian government is targeting one of its biggest critics, journalist Glenn Greenwald, in a move that has been decried by observers as an intimidation tactic designed to stifle opposition to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
The government’s finance ministry’s money laundering unit was asked by federal police to investigate Greenwald’s finances, O Antagonista reported Tuesday. The right-wing Brazilian news site said that the investigation would focus on whether Greenwald paid for access to leaked records he used in reporting on the Bolsonaro government’s “Operation Car Wash” sting.
The fallout from Greenwald’s reporting is having a major affect on Brazilian politics. On Tuesday, Moro appeared in front of the Brazilian Congress to answer questions on “Operation Car Wash” in a hearing that devolved at one point into near-violence.

3 July
Brazil: huge rise in Amazon destruction under Bolsonaro, figures show
Brazil pressured to protect Amazon under trade deal terms
Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest rose more than 88% in June compared with the same month a year ago, the second consecutive month of rising forest destruction under the rightwing president Jair Bolsonaro.
According to data from Brazil’s space agency, deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest totaled 920 sq km (355 sq miles)..
In the first 11 months, deforestation has already reached 4,565 sq km (1,762 sq miles), a 15% increase over the same period in the previous year.
Environmentalists have warned that Bolsonaro’s strong support for development in the Amazon and criticism of the country’s environmental enforcement agency for handing out too many fines would embolden loggers and ranchers seeking to profit from deforestation. Revealed: rampant deforestation of Amazon driven by global greed for meat

9 May
‘Exterminator of the future’: Brazil’s Bolsonaro denounced for environmental assault
Activist and politician Marina Silva warns Brazil’s rainforest protections being destroyed but vows ‘we can’t let that happen’
Jair Bolsonaro is transforming Brazil into an “exterminator of the future”, the activist and politician Marina Silva has warned, as she and seven other former environment ministers denounced the far-right president’s assault on rainforest protections.
The eight former ministers – who served governments across the political spectrum over nearly 30 years – warned on Wednesday that Bolsonaro’s government was systematically trying to destroy Brazil’s environmental protection policies.
“We are watching them deconstruct everything we’ve put together,” said José Sarney Filho, who served as environmental minister under the rightwing presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Michel Temer.
“We’re talking about biodiversity, life, forests … the Amazon has an incredibly important role in global warming. It’s the world’s air conditioner; it regulates rain for the entire continent.”

21 February
Simon Baptist: The first test for Bolsonaro
(The Economist) One of the most notable election results of 2018 was the victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election. Although his popularity was mostly on the back of a tough stance on law and order, he did articulate a reformist economic policy that was welcomed by international investors (although his subsequent speech at Davos disappointed many of them). I am more sceptical than the markets about whether he will manage to deliver on his promises: he lacks a majority in Congress for passing unpopular reforms, and his first couple of months in office have been marked mostly by confusion, miscommunication, infighting and scandal, which doesn’t bode well for governability or reform prospects.
A key test is about to come from proposed pension reforms, which are required if the country is to avoid a debt-sustainability crisis. The reforms do not currently have enough support to pass, but there will be a few months of debate, negotiation and amendment before a final vote. If this is successful, then it could be the start of a positive chain of events where other important policy areas are also addressed, and the optimism that surrounded Brazil a decade ago could return. If not, Bolsonaro is likely to revert to a relaxation of gun laws or a rollback of LGBT rights in order to appease his supporters.

15 January
Brazil’s Bolsonaro signs decree loosening gun ownership rules
President said the decree had been drafted ‘so that good citizens can have peace inside their homes’
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has signed a decree making it easier for citizens to keep a firearm at home in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates and a record 63,880 intentional violent deaths a year.

1 January
Brazil’s controversial new president embraced by Trump administration

Bolsonaro declares Brazil’s ‘liberation from socialism’ as he is sworn in
Far-right populist invited lawmakers to help country free itself from ‘ideological submission’ in speech
(The Guardian) Jair Bolsonaro has announced Brazil’s “liberation from socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness” after being sworn in as the country’s 42nd president.
His words delighted a crowd of more than 100,000 – many of whom had travelled to its modernist capital for the event, convinced the far-right populist can rescue their troubled country from virulent corruption, rising violent crime and economic doldrums.
“We have a unique opportunity before us to reconstruct our country and rescue the hope of our compatriots,” he said. “We are going to unite the people, rescue the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat genre ideology, conserving our values.”
He also referred to campaign promises such as freeing up gun possession. “Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves,” he said. Bolsonaro said he was counting on Congress support to provide “legal support” for police to do their work; he has promised impunity for police who kill criminals. “They deserve it and must be respected,” he said.
Bolsonaro has enjoyed the support of Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, which he said will have an “increase in efficiency” with “less bureaucracy” – words which will alarm environmentalists and indigenous activists concerned by his plans to reduce to streamline environmental licensing and allow commercial mining and farming on protected indigenous reserves.
These fears seem justified, in one of his first acts as president, just hours after being sworn in, Bolsonaro took the power to identify and demarcate indigenous reserves from the National Indian Foundation (Funai), giving it to the Ministry of Agriculture, according to local media reports.
Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration: the day progressive Brazil has dreaded
Brazil’s new president will feel emboldened to roll back rainforest protections and legitimise police’s use of deadly force
Perhaps no area faces a greater shake-up than the environment. To the horror of the environmentalists he so loathes, Bolsonaro has repeatedly signalled a desire to roll back environmental protections and make it easier to destroy the world’s biggest rainforest. Deeds have accompanied those words.
Since his stunning election, Bolsonaro has ditched plans to host key UN climate talks next year and appointed a foreign minister who believes climate change is a Marxist plot. As president, he looks set to take a sledgehammer to Brazil’s hard-earned reputation as a global leader in the fight against climate change and herald a new era of wrecking in the Amazon.
Foreign policy will also be upended, as Bolsonaro’s Brazil seeks a snug and historic allegiance with Donald Trump’s US and jettisons longstanding friendships with nations ruled by leftists, such as Cuba and Venezuela. “Everything we can legally and democratically do against these countries, we will do,” Bolsonaro recently vowed.

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