Brazil, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

Brazil Withdraws Ambassador to Indonesia after Excecution of Citizen

January 19, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — The government of Brazil withdrew its ambassador to Indonesia on Saturday after the execution of a Brazilian national on drug trafficking charges. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement that she was “outraged” by the execution by firing squad of Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was arrested in 2003 by Indonesian authorities who found cocaine concealed in his hang glider at the Jakarta airport.

Moreira was executed along with five others, most of them foreign nationals, and was the first Brazilian to be executed abroad, Rousseff said in her statement. Another Brazilian citizen in Indonesia, Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte, faces the death penalty on drug charges. Rousseff on Friday made a phone call to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, pleading for both sentences to be commuted, a request Widodo denied.

Despite Rousseff’s statement of outrage, an analyst who spoke to Bloomberg said a major diplomatic crisis is unlikely, as the two countries have no reason outside of this incident for contention. Trade with Indonesia accounts for less than 1 percent of Brazil’s overall trade, while Indonesia enjoys Brazilian tourism in places like Bali.

The death penalty is illegal in Brazil, although rights organizations have expressed concerns over the state of its prisons, as well as allegations that its police engage in extrajudicial killings at a high rate.

Before his execution, Moreira was visited by his family, who brought him the Portuguese salted-cod dish Bacalhau. “I will blindfold myself and the firing squad will shoot me,” he said. “But I have hope. My life cannot end this way, so dramatically.”

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexican authorities have detained a leader of the Guerreros Unidos criminal gang, who is believed to have ordered the group that killed and then burned the 43 disappeared students from Guerrero state.
  • Gas company BP will be charged at least $13.7 billion for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, several billion less than anticipated because the company succesfully argued that the size of the spill was smaller than government estimates.
  • Utah’s attorney general announced his participation in a sex-trafficking sting operation in Colombia with nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad that ultimately freed 54 children.
  • Robert E. White, a former U.S. ambassador to several Latin American countries and an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in the region, died last week at the age of 88.


  • A U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Cuba on Saturday for a three-day visit to discuss each country’s expectations in normalizing relations and to “explore opportunities for greater cooperation.”
  • A drug trafficker from the Dominican Republic said she was forced to bribe several police agencies in order to deal drugs, accusations that may lack credibility according to InSight Crime analysis, but warrant investigation after over 20 officers were accused of profiting off the seizure of over a ton of cocaine.

Central America

  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned by the upsurge of violent crime in Central America during his recent visit to El Salvador to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the peace talks that terminated the country’s brutal civil war.


  • A Venezuelan politician, known normally as a moderate member of the opposition, said the country is “in a state of emergency,” and urged citizens to take to the streets and demand change as the economy worsens, food shortages continue and President Nicolás Maduro is traveling outside of the country.
  • Cheap, subsidized products and gasoline from Venezuela are still popular on Colombia’s black market despite a government crackdown, with entire Colombian communities thriving on the contraband, reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • Colombian officials complained to Venezuela about the allegedly poor treatment of around 100 immigrants deported by Caracas earlier this month.

Southern Cone

  • The main reservoir for São Paulo, Brazil — providing water for millions of people — is at just 6 percent of its capacity and at risk of drying up completely as the region faces its worst drought in 80 years.
  • Inflation in Argentina reached 23.9 percent last year — second-highest in South America after Venezuela — according to government statistics released Friday, though opposition leaders say the number could be even higher.

Image: Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, CC BY-SA 2.0

Subscribe to Today in Latin America by Email