Brazil, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

Brazil Refuses to Sign U.N. Forest Initiative

September 24, 2014 By Staff

Top Story – A plan to eliminate deforestation worldwide in the next 15 years collapsed when Brazil said it would not participate, reported The Associated Press. The United States, Canada and the entire European Union signed the declaration, the first of its kind, during a U.N. climate meeting Tuesday but without Brazil’s involvement the plan will be nearly impossible as the country contains most of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Brazil was not consulted on the declaration, and that her government is concerned the text might contradict Brazil’s laws, which permit some logging in the Amazon.

More negotiations are scheduled later this year in Peru, as governments seek to sign a new treaty by the end of 2015.

Despite Brazil’s refusal to sign the agreement, President Dilma Rousseff maintained that environmental preservation is a priority for Brazil in her own address before the U.N. Climate Summit.

Rousseff emphasized that Brazilian economic growth is compatible with cutting emissions and stressed her ability to promote economic development and curb deforestation simultaneously.

Her speech comes at a pivotal moment. Rousseff is running for re-election on Oct. 5 against Marina Silva, who has been labeled the potential first “green” president to preside over a major economy.

An environmental activist since her youth, Silva has listed ecology and conservation as part of her platform. This particularly resonates with Brazilian voters as their country’s deforestation rates jumped by 29% in the past recorded year, the first time rates have increased since 2008.

Though the latest polls show the incumbent Rousseff with a first-round advantage over Silva, a runoff is expected, and is likely to be much closer.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • An SUV belonging to Gabriel Gomez Michel, a Mexican congressman kidnapped on Monday, was found burned on Tuesday, with two still-unidentified charred bodies inside.
  • A new poll by Pew suggests 56 percent self-identified Republicans say they disapprove of their party’s handling of immigration issues.


  • The Vatican arrested archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who is accused of paying for sex with children while he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic, as Reuters reports.
  • Climate change is an ”existential threat” to small island nations, according to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. His country has suffered major damage or loss of life from five weather events since 2010.
  • UNESCO said further research is necessary to confirm the claim by two researcher that they found Christopher Columbus’ original ship the Santa Maria, the Miami Herald reports.

Central America

  • In El Salvador, protesters and activists are fighting to keep “toxic” gold mining out of the country, The Nation reports.
  • The Panama Canal, currently in the midst of a $5.3 billion expansion, is likely to receive an upgrade in the next 25 years in order to meet increasing capacity demands.


  • Venezuelan soldiers have cracked down on gasoline smuggling on the border with Colombia, causing an outcry among local residents who make a living selling the contraband, VICE News reports.
  • Norway will pay Peru as much as $300 million to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Reuters.

Southern Cone

  • Brazilian presidential hopeful Marina Silva continues to lose ground to incumbent Dilma Rousseff ahead of October elections, Reuters reports.
  • A judge in Chile has ordered two suspects to remain in jail and another under house arrest for the next 10 months to allow prosecutors to investigate their alleged role in a Sept. 8 bombing that injured 14 people in Santiago.
  • Argentina is planning to deliver a $200 million payment coupon on its restructured bonds, though Reuters reports that this will do little to ease the frustrations of investors.

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