Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Can African Agriculture Learn From Brasil?

Off-Duty Brasil Military Policeman Shoots Two Robbers Dead While Holding His Baby

Haiti: Strummming Pain


Strumming Pain

Washington is ending a program granting temporary protected status to nearly 60,000 Haitians, which allowed them to live and work in the US following a devastating earthquake in 2010.
Those covered under the program will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation, the New York Times reported.
The decision was expected, but Haiti was lobbying the Trump administration to extend the program, as the country still relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home.
The catastrophic earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter just 16 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince. The destruction affected some 3 million people, and killed as many as 300,000 – though the Haitian government has been accused of inflating the death toll.
The US Department of Homeland Security said Monday that the conditions that prompted the decision to allow the Haitians to remain in the US “no longer exist,” USA Today reported. Some US lawmakers contended that Haiti – which was also hit by hurricane Matthew in 2016 – isn’t ready to take back the displaced citizens

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chile: One Down


One Down

Former President Sebastián Piñera won the first round of presidential elections in Chile, triggering a run-off election on Dec. 17.
The election – which was also for the lower house of Congress and for half the seats in the Senate – was the first to be held under new electoral rules that limit campaign spending and impose greater transparency, the New York Times reported.
Having won 36 percent of the votes cast, the conservative billionaire will face center-left journalist and former news anchor, Alejandro Guillier, 64, who received 22 percent. The leftist coalition Frente Amplio won 20 percent of the vote – double what pundits had forecast.
The vote breaks the dominance of the two major coalitions that have governed Chile since the end of military rule in 1990, the paper noted. Frente Amplio made significant gains in Congress, there was a marked generational shift and a greater number of 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

An Argentina Navy Submarine Is Missing

8:03 PM (7 hours ago)
This undated photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina's Navy said Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, it has lost contact with its ARA San Juan submarine off the country's southern coast. (Argentina Navy via AP )© The Associated Press This undated photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina's Navy said Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, it has lost contact with its ARA San…
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina's Navy said Friday it has lost contact with a submarine carrying 44 crew members off the country's southern coast and has mounted an extensive search.
The Navy said that ships and aircraft were searching near the last known location of the ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, which had not been heard from since Wednesday.
The Navy said it was scanning all possible radio transmission frequencies for a sign of the San Juan.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told The Associated Press that it is possible that the submarine had an electrical issue and said it could not yet be termed lost.
"The last position (registered) was two days ago. Without wanting to be alarmist or overdramatic, the facts are that there no form of communications could be established between the vessel and its command, even with the alternative methods that the submarine has," Balbi said.
"What we interpret is that there must have been a serious problem with the communications (infrastructure) or with the electrical supply, cables, antennae or other (onboard) equipment."
Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez, chief of the Mar del Plata base that was the submarine's destination, said the vessel had sufficient food and oxygen.
"We have a loss of communications; we are not talking of an emergency," he said.
Still, relatives of some of the crewmembers were at the base awaiting word of the search.
"We are praying to God and asking that all Argentines help us to pray that they keep navigating and that they can be found," Claudio Rodriguez, the brother of one of the crewmembers, told the local Todo Noticias TV channel.
"We have faith that it's only a loss of communications," he added.
Balbi said the sub was headed from the naval base at Ushuaia in Argentina's extreme south to Mar del Plata, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires. He asked for patience while the search is carried out and said that the sub must surface so visual or radar contact can be made.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the governments of Britain, Chile and the United States had offered "logistical help and an exchange of information for this humanitarian search." The statement also said that Argentina is also working with authorities in neighboring countries in case it needs support to locate the submarine.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Donald Trump For Brasil?

A radical from RioJair Bolsonaro hopes to be Brazil’s Donald Trump

Can a right-wing demagogue win next year’s election?
IN THE arrivals hall of Belém’s airport the excitement is palpable. Hundreds of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, a seven-term congressman and would-be president, gather under the steady gaze of a squad of policemen. Some hold banners with Mr Bolsonaro’s campaign slogan: “Brazil above everything, God above everyone”. A few wear “Godfather” T-shirts, with his face in place of Marlon Brando’s. When the candidate finally emerges through sliding doors the crowd surges forward, straining for a glimpse. While bodyguards forge through the scrum, the crowd hoists Mr Bolsonaro aloft as if he were a homecoming hero.
The visit to Belém, the sweltering capital of the Amazonian state of Pará, is an early stop in Mr Bolsonaro’s campaign to win the presidential election due in October 2018. A religious nationalist and former army captain, he is anti-gay, pro-gun, and an apologist for dictators who tortured and killed Brazilians between 1964 and 1985. He rails against the political elite, whose venality has been exposed by the three-year Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation.

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His message resonates. If the election were held today, an eighth of Brazilians would vote for Mr Bolsonaro, according to Ibope, a pollster. In a crowded field, that would put him second to the former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has the backing of a third of the electorate. The two would face each other in a run-off.
Polls this early are unreliable and Mr Bolsonaro’s eighth of the electorate is hardly a groundswell. His appeal may well fade as the economy recovers from a recession and voters pay more attention to the election. But his second-place status says much about the turbulent mood among Brazilians. A choice between him and Lula, who has been convicted by a lower court of corruption, would be a grim one indeed. Lula is appealing against the verdict.
Telling it like it isn’t
Mr Bolsonaro, who represents Rio de Janeiro in congress, hopes to be a Brazilian Donald Trump. His rhetoric is even more indecorous. In 2016 Mr Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to impeach Dilma Rousseff, then Brazil’s president, to the dictatorship’s chief torturer, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. (Ms Rousseff herself, once a member of an urban guerrilla group, had been tortured by the military regime.) In 2014 he told a congresswoman he wouldn’t rape her “because you don’t deserve it”.
Mr Bolsonaro, whose middle name is Messias (Messiah), talks little about what he would do as president, apart from restoring law and order. He admitted in a recent interview with Bloomberg to a “superficial understanding” of economics. He holds some mainstream views, such as favouring gradual reform of the ruinously expensive pension system. Less conventional is his wish to loosen gun-control laws, restrict Chinese investment in Brazil and cosy up to Mr Trump. He opposes gay marriage (legal since 2013) and adoption by gay parents. “His political instincts are to radicalise rather than moderate,” says Paulo Sotero of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington.
Public opinion is becoming more militant, too. The influence of social conservatism appears to be growing. In September Santander, a bank, abruptly closed an exhibition of “queer art” in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, which included a painting that showed someone having sex with an animal. Campaigners said it promoted blasphemy and bestiality. Around a thousand people joined a “Christian march for Brazil” on October 16th in São Paulo. Some held banners that called for the military to take over the country. Mr Bolsonaro, who was baptised in the Jordan river last year, will attract support from evangelicals. They make up a fifth of the population, according to the census taken in 2010; three decades before, they were one in 15.
Anger about the economy, crime and corruption will add to Mr Bolsonaro’s support. Despite a recent pickup in economic growth, the unemployment rate is still high at 12.4% and poverty is increasing. The murder rate is rising. Michel Temer, the current president, survives in office only because congress has twice rejected appeals by prosecutors to put him on trial for corruption. His approval rating is a risible 3%. Just 13% of Brazilians think democracy works well; a third would back another coup. Nearly 60% want a president from outside one of the three biggest parties.
Mr Bolsonaro has belonged to seven during his 26-year congressional career. He is now a member of the Christian Social Party, which has just 11 of the 513 seats in the lower house. He pays a price: public money for campaigns and time on television and radio are distributed according to parties’ share of seats in congress. But money has become less important since recent reforms capped campaign spending and prohibited corporate donations. Mr Bolsonaro boasts that he will spend just 1m reais ($310,000) on his campaign (in 2014 Ms Rousseff spent 300 times as much).
He is betting on social media. He has 4.8m followers on Facebook, more than any other Brazilian politician, and posts several videos a day, many of which are viewed by more than 1m people. His campaign is well organised. In Belém it deployed women to deal with any female protesters who might show up; sending men to confront them might have produced ugly press coverage.
“Bolsonaro is the only honest candidate we have,” explains Bárbara Lima, a 27-year-old volunteer. “There is no proof that he is racist or homophobic.” Older supporters remember the military dictatorship fondly. “My childhood was one of the happiest times of my life. I had liberty, security and health,” recalls Tom Meneses. “Then the socialists came to power.”
Despite fury and nostalgia, the odds are against Mr Bolsonaro becoming president. A third of Brazilians rule out voting for him in the first round. As the economy improves, fewer may gamble on a radical presidency. The two-round electoral system makes it hard for extremists to win; in a run-off, the moderate majority rallies to the more mainstream contender.
The only candidate with higher rejection rates than Mr Bolsonaro is Lula, but he may be not be able to run if a higher court upholds his conviction. His disqualification would make things still more difficult for the Rio radical. Even so, Mr Bolsonaro’s strong early showing is a warning sign. Centrists must prove that they are better equipped than extremists to repair the damage politicians have done.
This article appeared in the The Americas section of the print edition under the headline "He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy"

Chile: The Pendulum


The Pendulum

Chile’s Nov. 19 presidential election will likely cement a trend in South America of right-wing business types ousting left-wing premiers who came to power at the turn of the millennium, according to the Brookings Institute.
But where Chile differs from its neighbors is that its swing to the right is a move toward a friendly and reliable face: former president and billionaire airline magnate Sebastian Pinera.
In 2010, Pinera became the first conservative to win the Chilean presidency since the fall of General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in 1990. Center-left parties have dominated Chile’s political scene for 23 of the past 27 years, Bloomberg reported.
Flash forward to 2017, and the political and economic conditions in this Andean nation – one of the continent’s most stable and open economies – mirror the situation that originally brought Pinera to power seven years ago.
If Pinera wins this year, he’ll once again succeed President Michelle Bachelet, whose first term from 2005 to 2010 was branded as undynamic and mired in party infighting.
Pinera’s fresh, pro-business platform at the time fueled investor confidence while prices for copper, the country’s largest export, skyrocketed. Average annual growth during his first tenure neared 5 percent, the Financial Times reported.
This time around, President Bachelet, in power since 2014, had another rough go of it.
The economy contracted with decreasing copper prices, which made her hefty, poorly managed labor and educational reforms divisive among her supporters, Reuters reported.
Investor confidence is low again, Bachelet’s ministers are at wits end over botched mineral deals, and her center-left coalition is fraying at the seams. Six separate left-wing candidates are running against Pinera for the presidency.
Observers are confident that Pinera will come out on top, if not in the first round on Nov. 19, then definitely during the second round planned for mid-December.
But while Chilean markets are already gearing up for Pinera’s second coming, there’s reason for pause, Forbes reported.
Voter turnout in Chile is one of the lowest among developed countries. In 2012, it bottomed out at an abysmal 42 percent, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
A recent survey by Chilean pollster CEP found that this year won’t be much better, and that 60 percent of citizens are completely disenchanted with the political situation in the country. Voter apathy could work either for or against Pinera, depending on if the opposition unites behind a singular candidate in the second round, Voice of America reported.
And Pinera’s pro-business agenda could be curtailed by Bachelet’s lingering loose ends, like pension and tax reform, not to mention corruption allegations related to his various business interests in the state-run copper industry.
Pinera’s hated by many progressives, and some of his more radical policy proposals are already fielding major resistance, such as his plans to bleed the country’s anemic public sector, the Santiago Times reported.
Even with the pendulum predicted to swing Pinera back into the La Moneda Palace, conservatives should be wary of popping the cork too soon.