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Latam Brief: Brazil’s government cracks down on enviromental crime (February 28, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing
Latin America Daily Briefing

A high-level delegation of the Brazilian government traveled to the Javari Valley region, a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest where British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira were murdered last year. The trip is meant to show the Lula administration’s commitment to combatting illegal economies driving deforestation and Indigenous devastation in the Amazon.

The group was led by Sônia Guajajara, Brazil’s first minister of Indigenous Peoples. She was joined by the widows of both slain men. “We are here to reestablish the presence of the Brazilian government in the Javari Valley region,” Guajajara said. “It is no longer possible for Indigenous people to be cowed and afraid within their own territory.” (Associated Press)

Brazil’s government has embarked on what it bills as a historic drive to expel miners from the country’s largest Indigenous territory, the Yanomami lands, and rescue the Amazon after four years of chaos, criminality and bloodshed. The Guardian reports from the frontlines of raids carried out against illegal miners by the country’s environmental agency.

Government agents have already blocked illegal movement on the area’s two main rivers, said Felipe Finger, an Ibama coordinator. “Now we are starting another phase — to attack these mining operations, break up and neutralize these camps.” (AFP)

Regional Relations

  • Two Iranian warships docked in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government granted permission despite pressure from the United States to bar them, reports Reuters.

  • Peru recalled its ambassador in Mexico indefinitely after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Peru’s Boluarte government was “unconstitutional.” (BBC)

  • AMLO again criticized the detention of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, yesterday, calling the situation a “total farce” and a “great injustice.” (Al Jazeera)

  • Venezuela and the U.S. are in negotiations for a prisoner swap that would include Colombian national Alex Saab, who is close to the Maduro government, reports Newsweek.

  • Ecuador and Belgium agreed to increase bilateral crime fighting cooperation, a day after Ecuadorean police seized nearly nine tonnes of drugs bound for Belgium. (Reuters)


  • The Guatemalan Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s recent decisions to bar Thelma Cabrera, an indigenous left-wing leader, and Roberto Arzú, a right-wing candidate, from running in the 2023 presidential elections on dubious grounds threatens political rights and damages the credibility of the electoral process, according to Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America.


  • Chile has become a major migration hub in recent years — tens of thousands of Latin American migrants and asylum seekers have crossed the highland plateau from Bolivia, braving extreme conditions. (Al Jazeera)


  • Several Mexican states are feverishly competing to win a potential Tesla facility — though there’s no guarantee Tesla will build a full-fledged factory, reports the Associated Press.


  • Argentina’s Fernández administration is in a race against time to complete construction of a 356-mile-long gas pipeline before winter hits Argentina, and demand for gas spike. The project, which could make Argentina a major energy exporter, could have significant electoral impact ahead of the October presidential elections, writes David Feliba in Americas Quarterly.


  • Fernanda Pineda photographs young people finding ways to express themselves and avoid gang warfare in Quibdó, one of Colombia’s most violent cities — Guardian.


  • Heinz, the condiment brand, found Elvis Francois, a Dominican sailor who survived 24 days at sea off of ketchup. Heinz wanted to buy him a new boat, but ran into difficulties locating Francois. (Washington Post)

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