Compiled by Brenda Estrella
Brazil’s New President Offers Nation’s Natural Resources to Investors
Brazil is a lush landscape covered in dense, green rainforest however rapid deforestation has threatened the viability of Brazil’s Amazon forest for decades. This has mobilized indigenous groups as well as Non Governmental Organizations, like Greenpeace, in protecting the forest and have resulted in some policy reform but remain an ongoing struggle.
In January, environmental protection efforts faced a new challenge from the Brazil’s newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro won a landslide victory in October after running a far-right campaign promising to loosen regulations to facilitate investment. In his first overseas address, at the World Economic Forum, Bolsonaro invited global investors to make use of Brazil’s great biodiversity and mineral resources for business opportunities.
Indigenous groups in the Amazon are already suffering the consequences of the new administration’s pro-business plans. Their lands have been erupting in violence as criminals attempt to steal these in preparation for the influx of investment. FUNAI – Brazil’s National Indian Foundation has also been stripped of its efficacy by Bolsonaro. This resulted in the stalling of research and allocation of indigenous lands and removed the approval process by them for development on recognized indigenous lands.
European Countries Paying Migrants to Go Back Home
Militant groups have long threatened the safety of civilians in countries like Afghanistan, leading many to seek refuge elsewhere. The influx of displaced migrants seeking refuge in European countries has led to rising tensions, leaving the hosting governments with the task of alleviating these issues.
For some, the solution has been to partake in the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program, run by the United Nations; which allows countries to pay migrants, who are willing to return to their home countries, a sum of money in order to help him with business or educational endeavors. Some, however, have criticized the program for not adequately looking out for the best interests of participating migrants.
One concern, is the return of migrants to conflicted countries like Afghanistan, where civilians “face a real risk of serious human rights violations” according to a report by Amnesty International. Another is the program’s implementation, which some say it’s sometimes offered as a first chance to leave the host country, with the alternative being involuntarily being returned home without financial assistance. The program also has low success rates in conflict areas, with many participating migrants opting to seek refuge again.
Economic Crisis Leads to Threat of Coup
An economic crisis has been brewing in Venezuela during Nicolas Maduro’s presidency since its inception in 2013. Venezuelans are suffering under skyrocketing inflation and lack of access to food and medicine, which some have blamed on Maduro’s socialist government. Three million Venezuelans have responded by fleeing to neighboring countries since 2014, while many who remain have joined in demonstrations by political opposers.
Maduro was inaugurated into his second term on Jan. 10, following a controversial election; his political opposers were barred from running and some fled the country for fear of imprisonment. On Jan. 23, in show of dissent, the National Assembly elected leader Juan Guaido, declared himself the president of Venezuela; he cited a portion of the constitution, which allows this when the office of president is vacant. Guaido argued that since the elections were not fair and largely boycotted, then the results are illegitimate and therefore there is no democratically elected president to speak of; making Guaido the only legitimate choice.
In addition to countries coming forward to support Guaido, President Trump also recognized him as Venezuela’s president, via Twitter. America’s unexpected involvement has put Venezuelans and the world on high alert for what is to come.