United Nations headquarters in New York. (Photo by Joao Araujo Pinto, courtesy of the UN)
Latin America: Week in Review

Bolsonaro, Trump Defend Policies in Speeches at UN General Assembly

September 25, 2019 By Staff


BRAZIL/UNITED STATES: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro opened the United Nations’ General Debate yesterday by defending Brazilian policy in the Amazon. Bolsonaro said that Brazil has preserved the Amazon and that wildfires have not destroyed the forest. Brazilian fact checkers noted nine errors and five imprecise claims in Bolsonaro’s speech about policies affecting the environment and indigenous communities. 

In a separate speech immediately following Bolsonaro, U.S. President Donald Trump warned that migrants attempting to cross into the United States from its southern border “will be promptly returned home.” Bolstering Trump’s stance on immigration, a Republican-led Senate panel voted yesterday for a $71 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that included $5 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The bill will likely face heated opposition tomorrow when the full Appropriations Committee votes. 

Also likely to heat up today is the controversy surrounding Trump’s alleged abuses of power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday afternoon that the chamber would launch a formal impeachment inquiry after the president was accused of threatening Ukranian foreign aid for information on his political opponent Joe Biden.

Headlines from the western hemisphere


URUGUAY: Uruguay exported 10 kilograms of cannabis to Australia yesterday, marking the country’s first commercial export shipment of marijuana. Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana nationwide in 2013. Uruguay hoped to generate export revenue through marijuana legalization, but previously the country had only shipped cannabis samples.


BOLIVIA: Bolivia’s worst forest fires in the last two decades have destroyed nearly 10 million acres of the Bolivian Amazon. The fires are especially impacting wildlife and the Indigenous Ayoreo groups in the Chiquitanía. Volunteer firefighters, who have been at work for nearly two months, have become demoralized. Elias Johns, governor of the province Ñuflo de Chávez, reported that 700 to 800 firefighters returned home.


GUATEMALA: Guatemala announced Friday that it would ban a multitude of single-use products by 2021. Plastic bags, straws, cups and plates are to be switched with compostable replacements. Plastic will still be allowed for medical purposes.


BARBADOS: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley warned world leaders about the imminent rise of climate change refugees at the UN climate summit Monday. Barbados is a member of the Alliance of Small Island States, all 44 of which will be at great risk if temperatures increase the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit the UN predicts they will by the middle of the century. Climate change is expected to increase water scarcity, which is linked to the spread of disease and bacteria. The country already has the highest rate of dengue fever in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization. But Mottley said Barbados refuses “to be relegated to the footnotes of history and to be collateral damage for the greed of others.”

PUERTO RICO: A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico’s northwest coast Monday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Three aftershocks were felt in the hour that followed. There did not appear to be significant damage, according to CBS News, but officials are cautious as a new storm builds off of the southeast coast of the island. Tropical storm Karen increased in size to Category 2 yesterday. Karen is expected to bring a maximum of 10 inches of rain.


MEXICO: Mexican prosecutors issued arrest warrants yesterday for seven police officers accused of killing eight people in Nuevo Laredo, a town near the U.S.-Mexico border. The officers were charged with homicide, abuse of authority, making false statements and performing illegal searches. The Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee said the police covered up the crime by making it look like a shootout. Violence between police and cartels has been increasing in Nuevo Laredo in recent weeks. About a dozen people were killed in four different gun battles in one day in August.

MEXICO: A Mexican LGBTQ activist accused the organizers of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates of discrimination after he was barred from entering the event in Mérida last week. Alex Orué, the executive director of It Gets Better Mexico, said security guards prevented him from entering the convention center on Thursday when the summit began, even though he had already registered and been approved to attend. Orué said he was not told why he couldn’t enter, but he blamed anti-LGBT sentiment in a conservative culture.