‘Joujou’ is another name for hope in the Brazilian wetlands

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A male jaguar named Joujou has returned to his home sweet home in the wild.

In Brazil he has become a symbol of the efforts of environmentalists, volunteers and firefighters to protect and restore a much affected strip of the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area, which was ravaged by the fires last year.

Little by little, vegetation returning to the Serra do Amolar, a chain of mountains considered an environmental treasure because of the large number of species it houses.

Before the fires, 62 jaguars had been monitored in the region. Today, researchers are unable to say how many have survived and how many have returned to their habitat, which was scorched in the worst sequence of fires in 14 years. Between January and September of 2020, 2.3 million acres have been on fire, an area which is two times as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Joujou the catJoujou has become a symbol of hope because he was shown on national TV with his paws burned. Some Brazilians said they cried in front of the screen when they saw the big cat suffering so much. In November, two jaguars were rescued. They could barely move. One of them didn’t make it. Joujou was taken to a center for housing and treatment of wild animals in the city of Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

After months of intensive care, this example of the Americas’ biggest feline has recovered entirely and was flown back to Pantanal. Joujou now has a tracking collar and will be monitored for a year. He reached the hospital weighing just a hundred pounds. He now weighs almost 180 pounds.

Many other animals – including anteaters, armadillos, snakes, alligators and other jaguars – did not survive the blaze. However, Joujou, beautiful and strong, has been returned home safe and sound.

By Jorge Valente

The priest who left no sharp stones

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SAO PAOLO, Brazil – One of the most iconic figures in the fight for the homeless in the city of São Paulo has been in the spotlight since the beginning of February.

Father Julio Lancelotti learned that the City Hall’s authorities had decided to cover the ground under a bridge with pointed stones, a move to prevent the homeless from sleeping underneath.

A reputed advocate of human rights, father Lancelotti had no second thoughts about the line of action he was about to take.

With a sledgehammer in hand, he took to the streets and positioned himself right below the bridge. And then attacked and destroyed furiously what he considered another serious breach of human rights in a city already plagued by many other violations.

On social media he later posted a picture showing the result of his action and wrote, “Outrage against oppression”.

São Paulo is believed to have more than 24,000 homeless living below the poverty line, according to a 2019 survey. But Human Rights Watch groups say this number skyrocketed during the pandemic.

City Hall authorities said that the decision to put the stones under the bridge was an “isolated action” and had already fired the employee who was in charge of the task.

Father Lancelotti, however, was skeptical about this take on things, and said another similar action had already been done, commenting, “It’s inhuman, looks like a concentration camp.”

By Jorge Valente

Brazilian rainforest land for sale on Facebook’s Marketplace

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Plots as large as 2000 acres are being sold on the hyperlocal Marketplace section of the platform.

The Bolsonaro administration has taken criticism for looking the other way on encroachment into protected areas and deforestation, and indigenous groups have told the BBC that it is unwilling to stop these sales. “A common strategy is to deforest the land and then plead with politicians to abolish its protected status, on the basis it no longer serves its original purpose,” said the BBC report.

Illegal deforestation for timber often clears the land for cattle grazing, increasing its value as much as three-fold, and the practice is creating a growing land rush investment opportunity with Marketplace as its platform.

Facebook, for its part, says that its policies require users to follow the law, and reportedly said it is “willing to work with authorities,” but that it would not take unilateral action to take down the ads.

By Milan Sime Martinic

UF researcher moves Brazil to rescue legacy of man who helped end slavery

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The tomb of Brazilian abolitionist Francisco José do Nascimento, known as Dragão do Mar — Sea Dragon — whose contribution to the end of slavery in Brazil is widely regarded, has been identified by U of Florida student Licinio Nunes de Miranda after being lost and forgotten for more than 100 years and is now marked with a new monument. Brazilian media report this has spurred a movement to remember and honor the Sea Dragon, and to teach the value of his impact.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Criticism by Bolsonaro triggers $12.6 billion drop in market value for Brazilian multinational Petrobras

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SAO PAULO, Brazil – After replacing the state-controlled oil company’s CEO with a retired general, the Brazilian president blasted its pricing policies and said they should be changed to lower gas and diesel prices, causing a 21% drop Monday in the company’s shares on the São Paulo Stock Exchange.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Attempt to secretly revise human rights program in Brazil – HRW

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Human Rights Watch has raised alarm about Brazil’s exclusion of civil society from discussions about changing the country’s human rights policies, suspecting a secret plan to undermine what has for decades been regarded as a critical achievement in the defense of human rights in Brazil.

“The Bolsonaro administration, which has promoted an anti-rights agenda, has announced it is planning to change the National Human Rights Program in absolute secret, and without the participation of anyone who disagrees with its policies,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch.

By contrast, the last revision to the program under President Lula involved some 14,000 people in the discussions and a widely regarded transparent process. The National Human Rights Programs (PNDH) follow the guidelines of the 1993 Vienna Convention, and Brazil was one of the first countries to promote this formulation (PNDH-1, in 1996, PNDH-2, in 2002, and PNDH- 3, in 2009). PNDH establishes a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of government efforts to improve the human rights conditions in Brazil.

Since 2019, Bolsonaro has eliminated the government committee in charge of coordinating the implementation of the National Human Rights Program, now the group proposing new changes is made up solely of members of his administration.

The approach is an affront to the democratic rule of law, the Constitution, and the National Human Rights Programs built in Brazil, say some 211 Brazilian NGO stakeholders in calling for the immediate revocation of the administration’s new regulations that created the working group for the PNDH-3 review.

By Milan Sime Martinić

European public opinion puts pressure on Brazil to decrease deforestation of the Amazon

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SAO PAULO – Recently, London-based YouGov conducted the poll that surveyed people in several European countries and reported that only 12% of those interviewed supported moving forward with the pact if the current rate of Amazon deforestation continues.

Unfavorable European public opinion may, it is thought, threaten the loss of the EU-Mercosur commercial accord, worth around $19t total. Brazil deforests it’s land more than the other three Mercosur members — Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — combined.

By Milan Sime Martinić

 

 

French bank will stop financing companies that exploit deforested land in the Amazon

Amazon deforestation
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Continuing a trend of European businesses moving independently to protect the Amazon, France’s BNP Paribas announced it will no longer finance companies that buy cattle or soy produced on deforested or converted Amazon lands after 2008. The measure also applies to deforested lands in Brazil’s Cerrado region, a threatened tropical savanna eco-region covering 20% of Brazil that has lost half its land to agricultural clearing.

PNB said it will only finance those who adopt a Cerrado strategy of Zero Deforestation by 2025, promoting criticism from environmentalists that it is weak action that gives deforesters a 5-year free pass in an area they see spiraling into a collapse of its biodiversity.

The immediate move to fight Amazon deforestation, however, will also affect Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, and French Guiana, which hold parts of the Amazon forest along with Brazil. An area the size of the state of Maryland was lost to deforestation in 2020.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Standoff as migrant caravan closes Brazil-Peru International Bridge

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SAO PAULO – A humanitarian crisis is escalating in the far west Brazilian state of Acre as about 300 Haitians, Indians, Pakistanis have taken over the Friendship Bridge connecting Assis, Brazil with Peru at the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border. Peruvian authorities are refusing entry and the immigrants are demanding to be allowed to return home through the Andean country.

The area has been a popular entry point for immigrants from many parts of the world seeking asylum in Brazil. Having failed in their quest to obtain legal papers but unable to be deported due to Brazilian laws and international treaties that prevent deportation into potential harm’s way, the immigrants have been staying in empty schools in the area, but hygienic and toilet facilities are not sufficient and the municipality of 7500 is stressing its resources providing food baskets and help for the immigrants. Described as hungry and exhausted, the immigrants say they want to return home by way of Peru but are suspected of really wanting to make their way to the United States. Brazilian authorities say they have been in the area for months, under precarious conditions, sleeping in open barracks, living off state help and charity, and bathing in the Acre River.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Brazil, top instant coffee exporter, keeps title despite drop in sales to Saudi Arabia

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A global increase of 2.4% in Brazilian instant coffee exports in 2020 occurred alongside a 39% drop in exports to the Arab bloc, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 33% of the decrease, according to numbers made public by ABICS, the Brazilian Instant Coffee Industry Association.

Despite the Arab purchase drops, Brazil remains the top producer and exporter of instant coffee. Global instant coffee consumption climbs at a rate of around 3% per year. Addressing the decrease in Arab purchases, ABICS Director Aguinaldo Lima noted 2019 was already a record year for Brazil and that imports fluctuate from year to year. Saudi Arabia has been a longtime top importer of Brazilian instant coffee, said Lima, pointing out that it contributed to the 2019 record exports.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Brazilian Supreme Court rules there is no right to be forgotten in media

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SAO PAULO – Despite a 2018 decision that allows the right to de-indexation of certain information from search engines, a majority of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) has voted that there is no right to prevent media from disclosing truthful old information obtained legally, citing the Freedom of Expression Clause of the Brazilian Constitution and noting that such right does not degrade over time. The ruling sets precedent to guide jurisprudence over similar cases that come before the courts.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Facebook limiting political content in news feeds

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The move, which will first affect Brazil, Canada and Indonesia before being tried out in the US in a few weeks, is part of a company goal to “lower the temperature and discourage divisive conversations” globally, and was announced by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg at a January conference. The change will initially impact only a small percentage of users as the company explores different ways of classifying political content and finding a balance for the types of things that people want to see.

By Milan Sime Martinic