News from Latin America

Brazil 5-11-2021 violence in the country’s largest reserve

Illegal mining is widespread in the Amazon rain forest. Three illegal miners have been killed in a shootout in an indigenous reserve area. The Yanomami group said that gunmen in several boats attacked a remote settlement. It is estimated that more than 20,000 illegal miners are prospecting in the reserve area. Commentators blame President Bolsonaro for the uptick in violence on the reserves. He has criticized the size of the reserves. It is alleged that his rhetoric has emboldened illegal miners to enter the reserves. The riverways are valuable resources for the areas peoples. However, illegal miners use the waterways to move supplies back and forth to their encampments. The indigenous tribes are not able to keep the miners off of their lands.  

Colombia 5-10-2021 protests are not likely to fizzle out any time soon

On April 28, 2021 protests swept across the country. Colombians took to the streets to ostensibly object to the government’s decision to impose a new set of taxes. The government claimed tax reform was needed to bolster the economy. The protestors countered that the taxes would only hurt the poor and middle class. They claimed that they, the poor, shouldered the burden of the pandemic. Unemployment has shot up over 6%. Colombians believe that this number is low because more than 60% of them work in informal markets. Now other groups and industries have joined the protests. These additional protestors have their own agendas to push. More than 24 people have died in the clashes and hundreds have been injured. Property damage is calculated to be in the millions. President Duque has called for dialogue with protest leaders, but it is not clear who can speak for the diverse groups of demonstrators.   

Honduras 5-9-2021 drug trafficking reaches to the top of the government

Accusing and convicting top Latin America officials of drug trafficking is nothing new. For years, the U.S. government has brought hundreds of politically connected drug pins to justice. Honduras is believed to be permeated by corrupt officials involved in dealing drugs. Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez was found guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering by a U.S Federal Court. He is the brother of the current president of the country, Juan Orlando Hernandez. During the younger Hernandez’ trial, his bother’s name was concealed as being a “co-conspirator.” The court papers and proceedings indicated that the President was intimately involved in other drug trails. Prosecutors and U.S. officials have known for years that the country is a semi-narcotic state. It seems like the public officials wanted control of the drug trade.