Brazil’s Marina Silva Reverses on LGBT Rights Overnight

September 2, 2014

Geoffrey Ramsey – The Pan-American Post, 09/01/2014

Marina Silva’s odds of winning Brazil’s presidential election in October are looking better and better. As the AP notes, Friday brought some bad news for President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election campaign in the form of a one-two punch: not only is the economy now officially in a recession, but polls show support for Silva is continuing to rise.

According to the latest Datafolha survey, support for Silva increased by 13 points in two weeks, with the poll showing both her and Rousseff tied in the first round with 34 percent of the vote. In a second-round matchup, however, Datafolha found that Silva would beat the president by ten points, 50 to 40 percent.

Also on Friday, Silva released her official electoral platform, outlining her position on a range of issues in a 244-page document. The program contains a number of interesting proposals, like putting an end to re-election and gradually increasing healthcare spending to 10 percent of GDP. On economic issues, Silva promised to lower the country’s tax burden and give more autonomy to Brazil’s central bank, which has earned her support among the business community.

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UN agency wants probe of Brazil prison violence

January 9, 2014

The Associated Press, 1/8/2014

The United Nation’s human rights agency called Wednesday for an “immediate, impartial and effective investigation” into the violence that has swept through a penitentiary in northeastern Brazil where at least 60 inmates were killed in 2013 in clashes between rival gangs.

Violence from the prisons has spilled onto the streets of Sao Luis, the capital of Maranhao state where the prison is located. Police say imprisoned gang leaders angered by authorities attempted crackdowns inside the prison ordered their members to spark terror by setting buses ablaze and shooting up the outside of police stations.

A 6-year-old girl died this week after being severely burned during one bus attack. Gas stations in the city largely complied with a police request to halt the sale of fuel to anyone wanting to fill-up a gas canister, hoping to squeeze off gangs’ ability to buy flammable liquids used to torch buses.

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Brazil’s Rousseff: NSA spying violated human rights

September 25, 2013

Aamer Madhani – USA Today, 09/24/2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used her address before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to sharply criticize the United States over allegations that the National Security Agency has spied on her government.

Rousseff, who spoke before President Obama had arrived in the hall for today’s meeting of world leaders, said the United States violated human rights and international law through its surveillance programs, which she said illegally captured Brazilians’ communications, including her own e-mails.

“We face … a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty of my country,” Rousseff said.

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Losing the land war

September 10, 2013

Lunae Parracho – Reuters, 09/09/2013

Three-year-old Sandriely has a look of suffering. She was born in the roadside camp along the same highway where her brother was run over by a truck. Her grandmother Damiana Cavanha, one of the few women chiefs among the Guarani Indians, has lost, beside her grandson, five other family members: one aunt died of poisoning from pesticides used on the neighboring sugar cane plantation, and her husband and three of their children were hit and killed by passing vehicles.

Damiana, Sandriely, and 23 other Guarani Kaiowa Indians are living in a makeshift camp along the shoulder of highway BR-463 in Mato Grosso do Sul since 2009. They settled here after their last failed attempt to take back their ancestral land, called Tekohá Apika’y. (Tekohá is loosely translated as ancestral land, and Apika’y, the name of that specific plot, means “those who wait.”) That was four years ago when they were expelled from their land by gunmen who shot one of them.

A federal prosecutor visited the camp back then, and wrote in a report, “Children, youths, adults and the elderly are subjected to degrading conditions against human dignity. The situation experienced by them is analogous to a refugee camp. They are like foreigners in their own country.”

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Focus on Indigenous peoples’ rights and police violence in Brazil

August 5, 2013

Amnesty International, 08/05/2013

Indigenous peoples’ rights and police violence are the focus of a High Level Mission (HLM) by Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, this week in Brazil.

He will be meeting with top politicians and officials to discuss an array of human rights abuses and violations which need to be addressed.

“Given the deep stated commitment of the people and Government of Brazil to realising all human rights of all Brazilians and its growing importance on the international stage, it is imperative that Brazil takes concrete steps to improve the state of human rights in the country,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

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Brazil policemen tried over Carandiru jail massacre

July 30, 2013

BBC, 07/28/2013

The trial has begun in Brazil of 26 policemen accused of killing dozens of inmates during a prison riot in Sao Paulo in 1992.

Witnesses say riot police began shooting at random as they stormed the Carandiru prison.

In half-an-hour, 111 prisoners were killed in what became known as the Carandiru massacre. The policemen currently facing trial are accused of killing 73 prisoners on the second floor of the jail.

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Syria in free fall

July 30, 2013

Statement by MR. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to the UN General Assemby, 07/29/2013

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, presented a disturbing description  of Syria’s national tragedy  in a speech delivered yesterday (29) to the United Nation General Assembly.  Although no negotiated solutions seems  possible, he warned that “there is no military solution” to the country’s civil war.  A Brazilian legal scholars, Pinheiro was Brazil’s National Secretary for Human Rights in the Cardoso government  and  member of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission during the Lula and the Rousseff administrations.

”Relentless shelling has killed thousands of civilians and displaced the populations of entire towns. An untold number of men and women have disappeared while passing through the ubiquitous checkpoints. Those freed from detention are living with the physical and mental scars of torture. Hospitals have been bombarded, leaving the sick and wounded to languish without care. With the destruction of thousands of schools, a generation of children now struggle to obtain an education. The country has become a battlefield. Its civilians are repeatedly victims of acts of terror,” said Pinheiro, an Adjunct Professor of International Studies at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, and  Research Associate at the University of São Paulo  Center for the Study of Violence.

“4.5 million people have been internally displaced. As the war rages on, 18 million people remain in their homes inside Syria. These families are the first providers of humanitarian aid to their fellow citizens. The estimated cost of the conflict to Syria’s economy is between 60 to 80 billion dollars, a third of its pre-war GDP. Over 2.5 million Syrians are now unemployed and struggling to survive.”


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