Brazil chooses ambassador to return to the OAS

July 24, 2014

Cláudia Trevisan, Washington Correspondent – O Estado de S. Paulo, 7/24/2014

Brazil prepares itself to take the last step in the process of stabilizing its relations with the Organization of American States (OAS) and should announce shortly the name of the diplomat Sérgio Danese as new ambassador of the country to the institution.

The post has been vacant since April of 2011, when Ruy Casaes was called back to Brasilia in protest against an injunction of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that determined the suspension of the construction of Usina Hidrelétrica in Belo Monte. Since then, the post has been held by Minister Breno Dias da Costa.

The removal of the ambassador just over three years ago was one of the methods adopted by Brazil in retaliation to the decision of the IACHR, given in proceedings initiated at the request of authorities who represented indigenous populations.

Read more [in Portuguese]…


Gaza Strip Attacks By Israel Draw Condemnation From Latin American Nations

July 24, 2014

AP – Fox News Latino, 7/23/2014

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Jerusalem to meet with other world leaders in an attempt to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas militants, many countries in Latin America began to voice their anger at the air strikes and ground war waged by Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.

Argentina became the latest of the so-called moderate Latin American nations to condemn Israeli attacks in Gaza in response to rocket attacks into Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas. Speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Argentina’s Representative Maria Cristina Perceval condemned the use of force in the Gaza Strip by the Israelis.

Perceval said that Israel used an “indiscriminate abuse of militarism” and that the citizens living in the Gaza Strip “paid the price of the disproportionate use of force.”

Read more…


Has Brazil Taken the Right Approach to Education Reforms?

July 24, 2014

Emily Gustafsson-Wright – The Brookings Institution, 7/23/2014

In an interview with Inter-American Dialogue, Emily Gustafsson-Wright discusses Brazil’s new National Education Plan, which sets forth 20 goals that the country aims to achieve over the next decade. Read the full interview here

Brazil’s National Education Plan is indeed ambitious. With 20 targets ranging from universalizing access to early childhood education by 2016 to expanding enrollments at the post-graduate level, the federal government has set its sights high in an effort to address the issues of low PISA scores and large inequalities in educational access and quality in terms of geography, race and income. This is not the first time that the Brazilian government has proposed audacious education goals, however.

In 1998, it adopted a radical reform of education financing (FUNDEF and later FUNDEB) to equalize spending per student, and the record shows impressive progress resulted. In 2005, it set the target of raising learning outcomes to OECD levels by 2021 and put in place a highquality national assessment system to monitor and publicize the progress of every state, municipality and school in the country. But this time, a disconcerting factor is the outsized emphasis on spending more rather than spending better. A target to increase public education spending to 10 percent of GDP within a decade is beyond what any developed or developing country has found sustainable: the OECD average of 5.8 percent and Brazil’s current average of 5.7 percent are little more than half that. Where that money will come from, at least in part, was confirmed by President Dilma Rousseff when she signed a law that earmarks 75 percent of oil royalties for education. How it will be distributed and spent effectively is less clear.

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World Cup demonstrates why international games leave millions behind economically

July 23, 2014

Jefferson Mok – Global Post, 7/23/2014

We often hear sport is a great equalizer that can level out distinctions like class and stomp out problems like racism. In fact, development agencies have long embraced sports as a means to transcend violent rivalries, especially in conflict-torn communities.

Kingsley Ighobor, information officer in the Africa Section for the United Nations, recalls the powerful ability of sports — soccer for men, kickball for women — to build trust between former combatants and civilians in post-civil war Liberia.

“People that had not had a reason to smile for many, many years, suddenly, they are all rallying around their team, they are happy,” he said. “Sports can enhance social cohesion within communities.”

Read more…


In Brazil, government, health groups work to shield isolated Indian tribes from disease

July 23, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/23/2014

Despite working for seven years with indigenous tribes in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world, the closest Carlos Travassos had ever been to any was earlier this month, when he and his team treated seven Indians for the flu.

Travassos, who is the general coordinator of isolated and recently contacted Indians for the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, FUNAI, had one word for the encounter: “tense.”

Late last month, the group of seven Indians first walked into a village called Simpatia — or ‘Niceness’ — deep in the Brazilian Amazon, near the Peruvian border, in the Kampa Indian reserve in Acre state. The Ashaninka — a so-called contacted tribe because its members have had encounters with outsiders — live there.

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Brazil to unleash GM-mosquito swarms to fight dengue

July 23, 2014

Sue Branford – New Scientist, 7/23/2014

Time to unleash the mozzies? Genetically modified mosquitoes will be raised on a commercial scale for the first time, in a bid to stem outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil. But it is unclear how well it will work.

Next week biotech company Oxitec of Abingdon, UK, will open a factory in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of modified mosquitoes. Once released, they will mate with wild females, whose offspring then die before adulthood. That should cut the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In April, Brazil’s National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved their commercial use.

The mosquitoes could be an important step forward in controlling dengue, which affects more than 50 million people every year, with a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. There is no vaccine or preventive drug, so all anyone can do is to spray insecticide on a large scale in a bid to kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Read more…


​​Dozens of Activists in Brazil Were Arrested Not for Protesting the World Cup, but for Possibly Planning to Do So

July 23, 2014

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia – Global Voices, 7/22/2014

A day before the final World Cup match, 28 people opposed to hosting the tournament in Brazil were arrested “preemptively” at their homes in the city of Rio de Janeiro on the early morning of July 12. Police suspected they would engage in violent acts during a protest scheduled for the next day and accused them of “forming an armed gang” based on what activists and alternative media are calling false evidence.

A total of 37 people were arrested as part of Operation Firewall; some were detained simply for having a connection to the activists. Most were released, but five are still in jail waiting to be brought before the court or indicted.

Police reportedly found weapons, masks and explosives at some of the homes of those arrested, but activists have disputed the claim, saying that only knee pads, a tear gas mask, newspapers and a flag were seized. A 16-year-old, one of two minors detained, was accused of forming an armed gang based on a gun belonging to her father discovered in the house she was in, according to the collective Rio na Rua.

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Brazil’s Luiz Ruffato: “We must defend freedom under any circumstance”

July 21, 2014

Simone Marques – Index on Censorship, 7/21/2014

While researching Brazil’s legislation called the biographies’ law, Index on Censorship’s Brazil contibutor Simone Marques spoke to award-winning Brazilian author Luiz Ruffato, whose works include acclaimed novel They Were Many Horses.

Index: By defending the idea of controlling of literary works, such as biographies, wouldn’t some Brazilian artists be executing the role of a censor?

Ruffato: This is a paradoxical subject, because these artists live from the public image they built. People do not buy only a song or a film, people also buy the exposition of this artist. And the moment he becomes a public figure he is no longer a private figure. If this person is no longer a private figure, it is possible that he may have his own life scrutinised. I do not see any problem with that. I think anyone can manage their own life the way they feel like. Whoever wants to write a biography about me can keep calm. They will find absolutely nothing that may dishonour my image. But if they did find something, it would be okay, because I am exposing myself, I am living off that, I am somehow using my public image to make money. Therefore I think that when you move into this public world, you must be aware of that.

Read more…


Brazil gets tougher on smugglers

July 18, 2014

Olívia Nascimento – Infosur Hoy, 7/18/2014

Authorities in Brazil are strengthening enforcement against smuggling. The legislation that covers the crimes of smuggling and duty evasion, which was introduced in 1940, changed significantly on June 26. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff then signed Law 13008/2014, which amends Article 334 of the Penal Code.

The main change in the law is the separation of the two types of criminal offenses and differentiation of their respective penalties.

The punishment for smuggling has become more severe. Previously, convictions for smuggling and duty evasion carried sentences of 1-4 years in prison. Now, the punishment remains the same for duty evasion, but it has changed to 2-5 years in prison for those convicted of smuggling charges.

Read more…


Brazil After The World Cup: Images Show What Billion-Dollar Stadiums Could Become

July 18, 2014

Philip Ross – International Business Times, 7/17/2014

Now that all the World Cup hoopla has ended and the millions of visitors to Brazil have bid farewell, the question remains: What will a country that spent $4 billion to renovate and build new soccer stadiums do with all that vacant space?

Some of the stadiums will still be used for soccer matches, but others have no obvious niche to fill now that the World Cup is over.

So a group of sustainable urban designers came up with a potential adaptive reuse: Using them as housing for the homeless and the displaced. Designers from 1week1project, an architectural think tank based in Paris and Santiago, say turning those stadiums into apartments for Brazil’s homeless would have the added effect of addressing the negative publicity Brazil generated for its exorbitant spending to upgrade its soccer infrastructure while social services languished — and while 250,000 low-income people across Brazil were forcibly relocated or evicted from their homes to make way for new construction.

Read more…


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