February 23, 2015
Ben Otto – The Wall Street Journal, 02/22/2015
The government recalled its newly appointed ambassador to Brazil, the latest sign of deteriorating relations after Indonesia last month executed a Brazilian citizen convicted of drug smuggling.
In recalling the ambassador, Indonesia cited a perceived diplomatic slight, as Brazil declined to accept the credentials of Jakarta’s incoming ambassador during a ceremony in Brasília, the capital, on Friday.
“The manner in which the foreign minister of Brazil suddenly informed the postponement when the ambassador-designate was already at the palace, is unacceptable to Indonesia,” the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.
February 3, 2015
Donna Bowater – The Guardian, 2/1/2015
Born five years apart, sisters Joyce and Jandyra Magdalena dos Santos Cruz lived together in a simple low-rise in Guaratiba, a poor neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, with Joyce’s four children, Jandyra’s two daughters, and their mother, Marie Ângela. Like many Brazilian families, their lives were inextricably meshed by economies of scale.
It was the honey-coloured eyes they also shared that Joyce Magdalena recognised last August, when Jandyra was found inside a burnt-out car. She had been mutilated, dismembered and charred beyond identification. She had climbed into the same car a day earlier, at a bus station in the nearby town of Campo Grande, to be taken for an illegal abortion.
“The press said they cut off her hands,” says Joyce. “It wasn’t just her hands. They took off her arms, legs, teeth. A woman so beautiful. OK, she committed a crime, but she was committing a crime against herself, against her own life. It didn’t hurt anyone.”
January 30, 2015
David Sim – International Business Times, 1/30/2015
The overcrowded Pedrinhas prison complex in Maranhao state, Brazil, is notorious for gang warfare and riots. About 75 inmates have been killed since 2013, including three who were brutally beheaded during a riot between rival gangs at the hellish penitentiary.
A gory video showing the beheaded bodies of two inmates lying in a pool of blood on the floor was uploaded to YouTube in January 2014.
Built for 1,700 inmates, the facility holds more than 2,500. Overcrowding is one of the primary causes of rioting and violence in Brazil’s prisons. Brazil now has the fourth-largest prison population in the world behind the US, Russia and China. The population of those imprisoned in Brazil has quadrupled in the past 20 years to around 550,000 and the country needs at least 200,000 new incarceration spaces.
January 29, 2015
Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 1/29/2015
In June 2013, an 8-cent bus fare increase spurred student-led protests that quickly grew into a wider movement in which more than a million people took to the streets nationwide to denounce Brazil’s poor public services, government corruption and police abuse.
That price increase was shelved. But this month, amid a series of difficult spending cuts and tax hikes, authorities have raised fares again, this time by 20 cents, to $1.35.
A new round of protests led by the same student groups has begun but has failed to catch on with the wider population.
January 22, 2015
Matt Sandy – Al Jazeera, 1/22/2015
Three-year-old Mirna held a doll in one hand and played with her tangled coffee-colored hair in the other. She flashed a smile and asked, “Tudo bem?”
The ubiquitous Brazilian greeting was expressed with its trademark positivity. Mirna, who was born in Damascus three months after the start of the Syrian civil war, is learning Portuguese fast.
Having arrived in Latin America’s largest city just weeks before, for the first time in her life she was enjoying being out in the sunshine and meeting new people. Before, she remained hidden with her family in their home, hearing it shake with every nearby explosion.
January 21, 2015
Eric Zerkel – The Weather Channel, 01/20/2015
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is still reeling from its worst drought in more than 80 years halfway through the wet season, with below average rainfall totals doing little to ease the dire state of the city’s reservoirs.
Government officials and residents alike invested much hope in a boisterous wet season to help pull the area out of drought.
So bad is the drought, that back in October, Vincente Andreu, president of Brazil’s National Water Agency, warned that “If it doesn’t rain, we run the risk that the region will have a collapse like we’ve never seen before.”
January 15, 2015
Eva Hershaw – VICE News, 1/15/2015
When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti for 35 seconds five years ago, killing hundreds of thousands of people and leaving millions injured and homeless, Exzaire Dorestin was finding his rhythm as a performer known as DJ Osymix. He lost a cousin who was living in the capital of Port-au-Prince when the quake hit, but his hometown of Gonaïves, located nearly 100 miles to the north, survived relatively unscathed. For a while, his music business even continued to grow. He played at nightclubs as foreign workers and aid dollars poured into the country.
“We felt the earthquake in Gonaïves and we knew it was strong,” Dorestin told VICE News. “Our city got lucky, though. We didn’t see all the death that they saw in Port-au-Prince.”
But the economic aftershocks of the disaster soon reached the countryside, affecting Haitians with little or nothing to give. Dorestin’s livelihood diminished, and his family had difficulty making ends meet. By 2013, he had sold his music equipment and bought a ticket to Ecuador, which requires no entry visa for foreigners. From Quito, he hired smugglers to move him through the Peruvian cities of Lima and Cusco and the country’s remote Madre de Dios jungle region to Brazil.