Israel Faces Latin American Backlash

July 31, 2014

Robert Kozak – The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2014

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday labeled Israel a “terrorist state” and announced that Israelis need visas to visit, the latest in a series of measures Latin American countries have leveled against Israel for the violence in the Gaza Strip.

Criticism of Israeli policies has come from some parts of the world. Latin American countries have stood out by coordinating a range of diplomatic measures, including recalling their ambassadors for consultations and issuing sharply worded statements, political analysts said.

“Israel doesn’t guarantee the principle of respect for life, and the basic right to live in harmony and peace in the international community,” Mr. Morales said Wednesday in a speech in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. There was no immediate Israeli response to Mr. Morale’s accusations or Bolivia’s decision to require that Israeli visitors apply for visas.

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Brazil grants refugee status to 532 Syrians

July 31, 2014

World Bulletin, 7/31/2014

Brazil has approved a record number of refugee applications, including for 532 Syrian nationals, the country’s National Committee for Refugees has announced.

Some 680 applications for refugee status were approved on Wednesday alone, more than all applications given the green light in 2013 the committee, which is linked to the Brazilian National Justice Secretariat, said.

The raft of new approvals – the first since a new resolution simplified procedures set out by the country – means the Brazilian refugee population grew to 6,588, an estimated 10 percent increase.

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Activists in Brazil are fighting to protect the environment — and their lives

July 30, 2014

Gerry Hadden – PRI, 7/29/2014

908. That’s the number of environmental and land-reform activists assassinated worldwide between 2003 and 2013, according to a study by the NGO Global Witness. The number might shock you, but perhaps even more shocking is that nearly half of those murders — 448 — took place in one country: Brazil.

What is it that makes Brazil the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist?

You’ll find clues in the story of Guarabana Bay. The bay, just minutes from downtown Rio’s world famous beaches, is a study in pollution and filth. Dark sludge cakes the shoreline. Garbage floats everywhere. It’s so bad that some sailors set to compete here in the 2016 Summer Olympics are warning colleagues not to let this water touch their skin.

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Brazil Can Put Safety and Justice at the Heart of Global Development

July 25, 2014

Robert Muggah – The Huffington Post, 7/24/2014

The future of global development policy is being hotly debated in New York over the coming months. Governments from 193 countries are negotiating the form and content of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. These new benchmarks will replace the eight Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015. Most diplomats agree on the importance of including core development priorities into the future SDGs including ending poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy lives and quality education, and guaranteeing access to water and energy. Many also believe that peace, security and justice, controversial and difficult to measure though they may be, must be explicitly recognized as development priorities in their own right.

The SDGs are about much more than achieving a diplomatic consensus. Starting next year, they will serve as a road-map for driving development around the world, including the world’s poorest countries. Like the remarkably successful MDGs before them, they will incentivize governments to establish forward-looking benchmarks, monitor progress, and provide critical signals about the health of our planet. They matter fundamentally. And yet the SDGs will stumble if they do not account explicitly for some of the most intractable roadblocks to development, including violence, injustice and corruption.

Most of the world’s governments are plugging for a new and improved global development agenda that puts the safety, legal entitlements and basic rights of people at its center. During discussions at the United Nations, government representatives from most member states argued in favor of including peace and justice as goals together with targets that reduce violent deaths, end abuses against children, promote access to justice, prevent corruption, and enhance transparency. They are determined to pull the billions of people trapped by warfare and criminal violence from harm, be they in rich or poor countries.

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​​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 Boosts Security in “Pacified” District

July 22, 2014

Latin American Herald Tribune, 7/22/2014

Brazilian authorities on Monday strengthened security in a cluster of Rio de Janeiro shantytowns that were officially pacified four years ago after decades as a bastion of drug traffickers.

The additional police presence follows a violent weekend.

A police officer was wounded, two vehicles were burned and a police base was attacked on Sunday night by suspected drug dealers who evidently were acting in reprisal for the death of a young man during a gunfight and the jailing of one of their associates, Rio state police said.

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Rio Olympics organizers can glean lessons from Brazil’s World Cup

July 21, 2014

Mimi Whitefield – Miami Herald, 7/19/2014

Brazil has barely said tchau to the World Cup, but it has no time for a breather. In two years, Rio de Janeiro will be throwing out a welcome mat to the world as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Only three countries — the United States, the former West Germany and Mexico — have had such a short turnaround between hosting duties for the two biggest sports events on the planet. In the 1930s, however, both the United States and Germany hosted summer and winter Olympics in the same year.

Despite misgivings about everything from security to transportation to whether stadiums would be finished on time, Brazil managed to pull off a successful FIFA World Cup. That’s a positive omen for the Aug. 5-21, 2016 Olympics and Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.

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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.

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Brazil tracks World Cup lessons for Rio Olympics

July 18, 2014

Stephen Fottrell – BBC, 7/18/2014

The World Cup may be over, but in just two years’ time Brazil will once again brace itself for an influx of huge numbers of visitors, sports fans and tourists for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 2014 tournament has generally been regarded as a success, in the face of many doubts inside and outside Brazil.

So what can the country learn from the experience that can help it to host its next major sporting event? BBC Brasil’s Renata Mendonca looks at the lessons learned and the challenges ahead for Brazil.

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BRICS sign deal to create development bank

July 15, 2014

Al Jazeera, 7/15/2014

The BRICS group of emerging powers have launched a $50bn development bank to be based in the Chinese city of Shanghai, according to a joint declaration.

The bank will have an initial subscribed capital of $50bn followed by an authorised capital of $100bn, equally shared among the BRICS members – Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

The New Development Bank’s first president will be from India while the board’s chairman will be Brazilian, according to the declaration released at a summit in Fortaleza, Brazil.

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