The leaders of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela are scheduled to participate in the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization meeting next week in Brazil. (See yesterday’s briefs.)
It is an opportunity for the countries to set a coordinated policy for the Amazon, and will focus on forest conservation and security along the borders, according to the host, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He said that private businesses will be asked to help with the reforestation of 30 million hectares of degraded land. (Reuters)
Security should be high on the agenda, according to the International Crisis Group.
“Criminal groups are expanding across the Amazon, extracting natural resources and aggravating environmental damage. Their illicit activities are also generating violence that threatens many of the approximately 40 million people who live in the region. As climate change intensifies, it could compound these threats by generating severe weather hazards, which could lead to worsening food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition. These problems, in turn, could displace much of the local population and exacerbate deadly conflict.”
“Narco-deforestation,” as it was referred to in a United Nations report last month, represents a new target for law enforcement operating in the Amazon rainforest, where the lines between specialist criminal outfits are increasingly blurred, reports Reuters.
A new in-depth investigation by 37 journalists maps the Amazon’s criminal ecosystem, delving into the forces that drive the protagonists of the Amazon Underworld to engage in illicit activities that have a devastating impact on Amazonian communities and the environment. Amazon Underworld includes a database and map of armed groups on international Amazonian borders, and a series of in-depth reports.
Security is also a top concern for Indigenous groups, Kleber Karipuna, a member of the organizing committee for the upcoming summit told Americas Quarterly. Indigenous communities also want protection of isolated and recently contacted peoples on the agenda, as well as land rights, he said.
Participating leaders should to commit to ratify and carry out the Escazú Agreement, argues Human Rights Watch. “The regional agreement would help shore up protection of the Amazon rainforest and other vital ecosystems across the region by requiring countries to protect environmental defenders, guarantee access to information, and ensure public participation in decision-making on environmental matters.”
Latin America’s disinformation vulnerabilities
Latin America’s use of social media as the primary channel for political engagement makes the region especially vulnerable to disinformation, according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Disinformation has been identified by the UN secretary general António Guterres as a “precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide.” This is due to the fact that vulnerable populations, such as women and minority groups, are disproportionally targeted by disinformation.
“Yet striking the balance between freedom of expression while safeguarding information integrity is a major challenge governments and civil society organizations need to grapple with,” according to the CSIS.
A series of reports published by Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism (CLIP) “reveal how disinformation has been deployed across the region in recent years—and that the systems that are supposed to catch it have often failed to do so,” writes Catherine Osborn at the Latin America Brief.
She compares Brazil’s proactive judicial stance to other countries in the region, like Mexico and Chile where authorities have few tools to combat electoral misinformation.
With the advent of AI, and the technology’s potential to both help and hinder governments in strengthening democratic institutions, countries in the region must develop a strategy puts democratic principles and protection first, argue Antonio Garrastazu and Beatriz de Anta in Americas Quarterly.
“A regional AI strategy would provide a public policy framework, laying out a clear set of priorities for expanding AI’s positive effects and combating its potential for abuse. It would outline parameters and identify opportunities for ongoing dialogue. Ideally, it would include funding commitments to ensure goals are reached.”
- Even as the U.S has applauded a Kenyan offer to lead a security mission to Haiti, human rights groups have voiced concern about an international role for a police force long accused by rights watchdogs of killings and torture, most recently of gunning down 30 people in anti-government protests last month, reports the Associated Press. (See Monday’s post and Tuesday’s.)
- “The Kenya-led mission would be a hybrid arrangement. It would operate under a Security Council mandate but U.N. staff won’t have the same kind of monitoring and oversight capabilities that they would have with a peacekeeping operation. Still, the U.N. will be blamed for any shortcomings,” reports the Miami Herald.
- Many Haitians have expressed skepticism over Kenya’s offer to lead a multinational force, but also said ongoing bloodshed in their country leaves them with few other options, reports Al Jazeera.
- Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his country could contribute troops to the mission. (Jamaica Gleaner)
- The Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have previously indicated potential contributions to an international force in Haiti. (Miami Herald)
- “In the absence of any homegrown force that can restore stability, let alone organize democratic elections, Haiti’s only realistic hope is outside intervention,” according to the Washington Post editorial board, though any effort must obtain Security Council approval and “a carefully defined mandate.”
- Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s eldest son, Nicolás, has admitted to receiving illicit money from a Colombian contractor charged with murder, a former senator convicted of drug trafficking and a “powerful” businessman. Prosecutors said Nicolás Petro revealed that some of the money was used for his personal benefit and that the rest went to his father’s presidential campaign, reports the Washington Post.
- Nicolás Petro, who was a legislator representing a northern coastal region, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the probe after being charged earlier this week, reports the Associated Press.
- Undocumented migrant workers power the U.S. state of Wisconsin’s dairy industry. However, they are restricted from obtaining driver’s licenses, a situation that leaves workers isolated and stuck at farms they work at, and forced to take risks to get groceries, take children to school or seek medical care. “So they either rely on others who, for a price, drive them where they need to go, or they break the law and take their chances,” reports ProPublica.
- Independent investigators leaving Mexico after eight years searching for answers to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from a teachers’ college, say they experienced a “double reality” unlike anything they ever encountered in other international missions, reports the Associated Press. (See July 26’s post.)
- The real contest in Guatemala’s presidential election “seems to be taking place not on the campaign trail, but in the country’s judicial system,” according to a United States Institute for Peace report.
- Argentina is paying the International Monetary Fund with help from Qatar, the latest creative measure the country has resorted to in order to pay off an IMF loan as foreign reserves stand near record lows amid a deepening economic crisis, reports Bloomberg.
- Argentina tapped almost $3 billion of a Beijing currency swap line to pay the multilateral lender last week — “however, questions are mounting over the terms and conditions of the agreement between the two countries’ central banks,” reports Reuters.
- The former personal lawyer of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took a seat on the country’s Supreme Court, yesterday. (Associated Press)
- From overpopulated, crumbling prisons to tens of thousands of disappearances every year, as well as millions of weapons in circulation, Brazil’s security panorama looks grim, according to the 2023 Brazilian Public Security Annual — InSight Crime breaks down the main findings.
- Investors are increasingly optimistic about Brazil’s economy, according to the Economist.
- São Paulo Governor Tarcísio de Freitas is a potential political heir to former President Jair Bolsonaro. But, “with years to go and other powerful figures likely to contest the succession, Tarcísio’s prospects are contingent not just on a successful stint as governor—but also his pulling off a difficult balancing act between deference to Bolsonaro and distance from him,” writes Nick Burns at Americas Quarterly.
- Coca cultivation is surging in Peru’s remote Ucayali department. “A metastasised drug trade, once concentrated within the folds of the Andes, has descended into this lowland jungle region, threatening the reserves of some of the world’s most isolated tribespeople,” reports Al Jazeera.
- Lula said Wednesday that he supports more countries joining the BRICS group of large developing nations, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Reports earlier this week indicated that Brazil opposed expanding the group. (Associated Press)
- Lula said this week that Brazil is working for peace in Ukraine but neither its leader nor Russia’s are prepared to talk peace, reports Reuters.
- Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar called for deeper ties with Latin America and Caribbean nations, reports EFE.
- It’s midwinter in South America, but “multiple spells of oddly hot weather have roasted the region in recent weeks,” reports the Washington Post.