Climate is on the agenda for today’s meeting between Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden. Lula is hoping to use environmental diplomacy, such as protecting the Amazon rainforest, to elevate the country’s position in the world, while Biden has long made addressing climate change a key policy for his administration, notes USA Today.
The U.S. is reportedly considering a contribution to the multilateral Amazon Fund against deforestation, and Biden could make an announcement later today, reports Reuters.
The fund was frozen by Lula’s predecesor, Jair Bolsonaro, in 2019, but has been restarted this year by Brazil’s new administration, with support from Norway and Germany. Britain might also join the fund, which has received $1.3 billion so far.
Today’s meeting between Lula and Biden “being framed as a chance for a fresh start after the chaos left behind by both of these presidents’ predecessors — tenures marked by polarization, political tumult and the ideological convergence of hard-right nationalists in both countries,” reports the Washington Post’s WorldView.
Indeed, for both presidents hope to use the meeting as a signal that their democracies are resilient, Brian Winter told to the Washington Post.
Ukraine could be a flashpoint between the two presidents however. Lula criticized peace efforts and, last week after meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, refused to send ammunition to the country. (Economist, see Jan. 31’s briefs)
- After El Faro’s report that El Salvador’s controversial crackdown against the country’s gangs successfully disarticulated the criminal groups, it’s time to revisit whether “mano dura” policies work, writes Steven Dudley at InSight Crime. (See Monday’s briefs.)
- “The gains under Bukele are laudable, but among other gang experts consulted by InSight Crime, there is a counter-consensus: They are impossible to sustain unless the underlying conditions that allow the gangs to emerge and flourish are addressed. What’s more, the experts said, the ultimate target may not be the gangs but democracy itself.”
- The 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners released yesterday and sent to the U.S. were transported in the morning from detention without being informed of their destination. A Managua court classified the transfer as a “deportation,” though legal experts say it is an exile. The Ortega controlled National Assembly then stripped the released political prisoners of their nationality. (Confidencial)
- After the charter flight from Managua landed Dulles airport, yesterday, most of the former detainees were taken to a nearby hotel, but around 15 of them were taken to hospital, reports the Guardian. Many of the political detainees spent over a year in detention — many suffered human rights violations, inhuman conditions and some were denied medical treatment.
- Those released include leading opposition politicians, detained in the lead up to the 2021 presidential elections, and business leaders. (Washington Post)
- Nicaraguan authorities sent Bishop Rolando Álvarez to La Modelo penitentiary after he refused to board yesterday’s flight to the U.S. He had previously been held under house arrest. (Confidencial, see yesterday’s post.)
- European bishops, on Wednesday, demanded the immediate release of Nicaraguan clergy detained in the government’s crackdown on the Catholic Church, saying they have been falsely accused and are being subjected to unjust persecution. (Associated Press)
- Honduran lawmakers will vote to select new Supreme Court magistrates today. The country’s National Anticorruption Council (CNA) warned the ruling Libre party is undermining efforts to reach a consensus. The current court’s mandate ends tomorrow, and lawmakers must select new justices from a list of 45 candidates selected by a nominating committee. (TuNota, ConfidencialHN)
- The third-year of La Niña, and the resulting megadrought in South America, has ”shaken up South American agriculture and energy markets—and prompted reflections about how climate change will increasingly affect the region’s economies,” writes Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief.
- U.S. customs officials in Miami seized a record amount of fentanyl in December, “signaling that traffickers are turning to their old smuggling route of the Caribbean to shift the drug that is driving an overdose epidemic in the United States,” writes Ioan Grillo in Narco Politics.
- Colombia classified dissident FARC groups as criminal groups following the 2016 peace deal with the guerrilla group. “Though funded by extortion, illegal mining, as well as cocaine and gold smuggling, most of these groups still maintain political objectives as well,” reports Pirate Wire Services in a guide to rebel groups in talks with the Petro administration.
- The Turks and Caicos Islands warned would-be Haitian migrants against traveling to their territory, promising to pursue undocumented migrants and to target employers who harbor, hire and employ them, reports the Miami Herald.
- The Oscar-nominated film Argentina 1985 has put a spotlight on former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo’s dogged pursuit of human rights abuses, and “also on his stubborn faith that – when it comes to preventing genocide – reconciling ideological divides is as important as winning convictions,” reports the Guardian.
- Peru said that 585 sea lions and 55,000 wild birds have died of the H5N1 bird flu virus in recent weeks. (AFP)
- A man who repeatedly admitted scheming to smuggle finches from Guyana into New York for birdsong competitions was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. (Associated Press)