BRAZIL: A Human Rights Watch report released yesterday found that more than 300 environmental and land rights activists were killed in Brazil in the last decade. The report, titled “Rainforest Mafias” and based on more than 170 interviews, documented how illegal logging and forest fires are linked to violence against activists in the region. Only 14 cases have gone to trial, according to the report.
Sixty percent of the Amazon rainforest is under Brazil’s jurisdiction. Under President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation has doubled compared to last year—culminating in August’s unprecedented rainforest fires. The HRW report found that protections for the Amazon and environmentalists have deteriorated under Bolsonaro, who slashed funding to Brazil’s environmental agency.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
CHILE: UN Human Rights Chief and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet denied being involved in Brazil’s Operation Car Wash corruption scandal. Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo published a story Monday that said Brazilian businessman Leo Pinheiro told prosecutors he paid Bachelet’s 2013 presidential campaign $141,000 to cover debts. Chilean authorities said they are waiting for Brazilian prosecutors to confirm Pinheiro’s statements, which were part of a plea agreement, before they take any action.
VENEZUELA: Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly voted yesterday to give Juan Guaidó its “unrestricted political support” until the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime. The vote followed the decision by four minority opposition parties to break rank with Guaidó and negotiate with Maduro’s government. In January, the National Assembly declared Guaidó interim president until new elections can be held. The young politician has yet to dislodge Maduro from power or garner the support of the military.
ECUADOR: Nearly every citizen of Ecuador was impacted by a massive data leak discovered Monday. The leak exposed the personal data of more than 20 million people. Ecuador’s population is only 16.5 million. The unprotected information was found on a server of Novaestrat, an Ecuadorian consulting and analytics firm. VpnMentor, which discovered the breach, said that virtually all of the population is now at risk of identity theft, financial fraud and other crimes. Authorities raided the home of William Roberto G., the legal representative of Novaestrat, on Monday. They later detained him.
PUERTO RICO: A former marine and DEA agent pleaded guilty yesterday to taking part in a drug ring that smuggled cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York. Fernando Gomez, who served in the law enforcement agency for nearly a decade, helped move thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Gomez will face sentencing in Manhattan in November. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
CUBA: Seven migrants were rescued Sunday by a Royal Carribbean cruise ship after their raft broke about 20 miles from the Cuban coastline. The migrants received first aid on board “Majesty of the Seas,” according to a spokesperson from the company.
REGION: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador lost power for hours Monday, after a regional electrical grid failed. EOR, the Salvadoran electricity operator, said that El Salvador and Guatemala experienced partial outages. Nicaragua and Honduras faced a total blackout. The outages wiped out traffic lights, internet service and water pumps for two hours.
MEXICO: Forensic examiners in the Mexican state of Jalisco announced yesterday that they reassembled the remains of 41 bodies found in a well in early September. The remains, found separated into 119 black bags, were discovered when residents reported smells coming from the well. Four of the bodies have been identified. More than 3,000 mass graves have been discovered in Mexico since 2006.
MEXICO: The Mexican government is demanding that an auction house in France return some of its pre-Hispanic artifacts. Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said some of the items, which the auction house intends to sell in Paris today, belonged to the Olmec, Teotihuacan and Maya cultures. Other items in the collection, the department said, might be fakes. The auction house recently removed another Mayan artifact that was likely stolen from Guatemala after it sparked a similar controversy.