TIME brazil

Over 150 Injured in Teacher-Police Clashes in Brazil

The city's mayor called the scene a "war without precedent"

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Police unleashed waves of rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades on striking teachers in a southern Brazilian city Wednesday, leaving over 150 people injured.

The police said their action was ignited after a few of the protesters attempted to gain access to a state congressional building where legislators voted to make cuts to teachers’ pension plans, but the authorities’ action was widely criticized as heavy handed.

Live television images showed police firing the non-lethal weapons into tightly packed clusters of striking teachers after some protesters tried to break through police lines around the Parana state congressional building. Water cannons were also used to knock demonstrators back.

A statement on the Curitiba municipal government’s website said at least 150 people were treated for injuries suffered in the melee. The state security secretariat said about 20 police officers were hurt. It was not yet clear how severe any of the injuries were in the action, which appeared to end by nightfall.

Curitiba mayor Gustavo Fruet called the scene a “war without precedent” in the city and labeled it a “tragedy foretold” that he blamed on the security forces, who are under the responsibility of the state government.

The statement on the municipal government’s website said the city’s unarmed municipal guard security officers had formed what was described as a security corridor that allowed the injured striking teachers to reach the city hall building to receive first aid.

The Parana state government, which controls the security forces that clashed with the teachers, said in a statement on its website that it “deeply regrets the acts of confrontation, aggression and vandalism caused this afternoon by protesters” not associated with the striking teachers.

It said masked protesters used stones, fireworks, sticks and iron rods to try to break through the police lines to invade the state congressional building and that they’re “directly responsible for the confrontation.”

The statement added that seven people had been arrested for attacking policemen.

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Media Says 8 Foreign Drug Smugglers Executed

PHILIPPINES-INDONESIA-CRIME-DRUGS-EXECUTION
Ted Aljibe—AFP/Getty Images Activists hold candles and placards with portraits of Mary Jane Veloso in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2015.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency appeals

Eight drug convicts, all foreigners, were reportedly executed by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday, after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the executions.

The inmates, four Nigerians, two Australians, one Brazilian and one Indonesian, were killed on the Nusakambangan prison island early Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reports. But another condemned prisoner, Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at least temporarily after new evidence came to light confirming her claim she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

The executed inmates included Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was earlier given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi were among the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Families of the condemned came to Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military stepped up security there and in Cilacap. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, asked to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME Crime

More Than Two Environmental Activists Were Killed Each Week in 2014

US-PERU-ENVIRONMENT-UNREST
Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images Diana Rios Rengifo, the daughter of one of the four indigenous Ashéninka leaders murdered in the Peruvian Amazon in early September, speaks during a ceremony in New York on Nov. 17, 2014

A majority of deaths were tied to disputes over hydropower, mining and agri-business

The killing of environmental activists jumped by 20% in 2014, with at least 116 deaths around the world tied to disputes involving land and natural resources, the London-based advocacy organization Global Witness claimed this week.

“[That’s] almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period,” its report said. “Disputes over the ownership, control and use of land was an underlying factor in killings of environmental and land defenders in nearly all documented cases.”

According to How Many More?, the majority of deaths took place in Central and South America; Brazil topped the list with 29 cases followed by Colombia with 25.

Global Witness dubbed Honduras as “the most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental activist,” where during the past five years 101 individuals have been killed in relation to their advocacy work.

The organization urged governments across the globe to take bolder measures to tackle the issue ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris later this year.

“Environmental and land defenders are often on the frontlines of efforts to address the climate crisis and are critical to success,” said the report. “Unless governments do more to protect these activists, any words agreed in Paris will ultimately ring hollow.”

TIME Pop Culture

Identical Triplets in Brazil Get Married at the Same Wedding

They wore matching dresses too

It’s not every day you see three brides walk down the same aisle in the same dress and same hair style.

And yet, that was the case for Rafaela, Rochele and Tagiane Bini, who all got married at the same time at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Catholic cathedral in their hometown of Passo Fundo, Brazil on Saturday, according to a BBC video.

The 29-year-old brides didn’t plan to match hairstyles or makeup. In fact, they went to their appointments with the intention of not matching.

“We tried a number of styles, but we all liked the same one,” Rochele told the Daily Mail. “It’s not even worth trying, it always ends up like that.”

The female guests were pleased to have three opportunities to catch the bouquets, which matched the color of each of the 18 bridesmaid’s dresses to the corresponding bride.

The only thing that helped their guests and grooms – Rafael, Gabriel and Eduardo – distinguish between them was their different colored bouquets.

The brides admit to sometimes deliberately confusing their fiancés, said Rafael, who married Rafaela.

But on their wedding day, they didn’t have a problem spotting their true loves.

“Oh yes, I knew which one was mine, for sure. I knew as soon as she entered the church, she was the most beautiful,” Eduardo, who married Tagiane, told the news outlet.

Rafaela met Rafael 10 years ago in college, and a year later Rochele met her future husband Gabriel. After Tagiane and Eduardo got engaged, their parents, Pedro and Salete, suggested that the girls get married together.

When it came time to decide how Pedro was going to walk all three daughters down the aisle at once, it was settled that he would walk halfway down the aisle with all three and then take one at a time to the altar.

Pedro walked Tagiane, the first born, down the aisle first.

“I tried to hold back my emotion, but I couldn’t,” Tagiane admitted. “To see my dad there, at that moment, was a feeling I can’t explain.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME brazil

Here are the 4 Challenges Rio de Janeiro Must Meet to Host a Successful 2016 Olympics

A young man rests next to a destroyed house at the shanty town Vila Autodromo, which is located close to the Olympic Park built for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 01 April 2015.
Antonio Lacerda–EPA A young man rests next to a destroyed house at the shanty town Vila Autodromo, which is located close to the Olympic Park built for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 01 April 2015.

With fewer than 500 days to go before the next Summer Games Rio faces great problems including crime, pollution and energy

The countdown is on until the 2016 Olympics and Rio de Janeiro is preparing to welcome millions of people from around the world. But in order to succeed as hosts, the Brazilian city — which won the bid to host the Summer Games back in 2009 — must address the social tensions, environmental problems and water crises that threaten to marr the biggests sporting event in the world. Here are four of the main challenges Rio must tackle before the Opening Ceremony.

1. Pollution in Rio’s Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay borders Rio de Janeiro’s east side and is the host site for the Olympic’s sailing and windsurfing events. It’s also made international headlines due to its polluted waters, filled with raw sewage and massive amounts of garbage. While part of Rio’s Olympic bid included a promise to clean up the bay by 80 percent, the state environment secretary, Andre Correa, admitted in January that it would not be possible. They’re currently at 49% of their cleanup goal.

Mario Moscatelli, a biologist and outspoken bay advocate, says the state has the technology, time and money to make significant improvements but that politicians are not interested in making it a priority. He believes they never intended to fulfill this promise and tells TIME they “simply lied” to get the Olympic bid.

Mayor Eduardo Paes told CNN last June that pollution doesn’t pose any health risks for the athletes, but Moscatelli thinks otherwise, claiming that sailing in the bay is “like playing Russian roulette.”

“Sailors run the risk of hitting anything from plastic bags to a car bumper, pieces of wood, tires and even furniture,” he warns. “Falling in the water, the sailors could potentially be victims of gastrointestinal infections, mycoses, otitis or hepatitis.”

2. The water and energy crisis

Brazil is suffering from the worst drought in 40 years. The southeastern city of São Paulo has started rationing water and Rio could be next. Making matters worse, Brazil gets about 70 percent of its energy from hydropower. In Brazil, water crisis equals an energy crisis.

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Eduardo Braga, also made a frightening announcement last week: the turbines on Brazil’s principal hydroelectric plants will stop running if water levels dip below 10% capacity. They’re currently at 17%.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Brazilian government spent $5 billion to subsidize fossil fuels to make up for lost hydroelectric power in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup and may have to do so again for the Olympics.

3. Olympic development is raising social tension

In the informal settlements known as favelas, about 8,000 families have been, or are at risk of, removal from their homes for construction linked to the Olympics and the World Cup, according to a 2014 study done by an activist group, the Popular Committee. While the government has been praised for promising market-rate compensation for those evicted, in practice it seems there is no standard price per square foot. A recent study by MIT reported that government officials go from house to house and negotiate behind closed doors. Residents think this is both an intimidation tactic and has sparked rumors of how much people are receiving.

Meanwhile, the “Olympic Legacy” in Rio has been criticized for serving mostly the interests of the private sector and the wealthy. Olympic sites like the golf course and the Olympic Village will be handed over to private construction firms who plan to build luxury apartments, made possible through a financial model known as Private-Public Partnerships (PPP). PPPs mean that private construction firms are footing 60 percent of the bill for Olympic construction projects. While it saves public money, the construction firms are then able to develop the land for profit. Another report by the Popular Committee describes the PPP model as “the eviction of a low-income community, that the city of Rio has made their priority to remove in order to make room for yet another commercialized project.”

Professor Mauro Kleiman, an urban studies professor at the Federal University of Rio, agrees that the legacy will primarily serve private interests, excluding public transportation projects like the extension of the metro and rapid transit bus lines. “The legacy is [in] the interests of real estate development and the tourism sector,” Kleiman tells TIME. “So far, we’re seeing inflated costs, similar to in Greece [where the 2004 Olympics were held in Athens].”

4. Street crime and public security

While street crime has generally fallen over the last 30 years, Rio has seen a spike in street robberies in recent months, reaching levels not seen since 1991.

In March alone there were seven mass robberies, known as arrastões, in public spaces. Armed robbers assaulted commuters twice in the metro and another group of armed criminals closed off a major tunnel and robbed the stopped cars.

A representative from the Rio State Security Secretary said they are responding by increasing police presence in strategic points throughout the city and pointed out that the city of Rio has held major events like the World Cup and Pope Francis’ visit with no major security incidents.

TIME brazil

Watch Tens of Thousands Demand Brazil President Rousseff’s Impeachment

Protesters say the President knew about a huge graft scandal at the state oil company Petrobras

More than 1 million people took to the streets across Brazil on Sunday to demonstrate against President Dilma Rousseff.

Many were calling for her impeachment over a massive corruption scandal while she was head of the state oil company Petrobras, Agence France-Presse reports.

Rousseff, 67, also faces anger over rising inflation and a weak economy, especially among lower-income voters who traditionally back her Workers’ Party, locally known as PT.

The biggest demonstration was in São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, where some 500,000 people took to the streets, dressed in the yellow and green of the national flag. “Get out, Dilma; get out, PT!” they chanted. Rallies took place in 83 other towns and cities across the country, including the capital, Brasilia, where 40,000 people marched toward Congress.

Opposition parties backed the protests but didn’t go so far as to call for the President’s impeachment.

Petrobras officials allegedly accepted bribes totaling a whopping $3.8 billion in exchange for contracts for refineries, oil tankers and deep-sea platforms, with payments channeled to powerful politicians and political parties.

An investigation into dozens of prominent political figures is under way, but the President, who was chairwoman of the company’s board at the time, has not been directly implicated and denies any involvement.

After the protests, the government said it would introduce measures to fight corruption and impunity.

[AFP]

TIME energy

Petrobras Scandal Goes Far Deeper Than Previously Thought

Drilling Companies At Rio Oil And Gas 2014 Expo
Bloomberg—Getty Images A Petrobras logo sits on display at the Petroleo Brasileiro SA trade stand during the Rio Oil & Gas 2014 Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 15, 2014.

As debt piles up and the corruption probe digs deeper, Brazil's oil giant is looking weaker by the day

The ongoing and seemingly widening scandal plaguing Petrobras is beginning to cause fissures in Brazil’s political system. New evidence suggests that the ruling political party may have been much more involved than once thought.

The state-owned oil giant is embroiled in a scandal over kickbacks, in which it would overpay contractors in exchange for bribes. Some of the money was also diverted to the coffers of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT), the political machine that has run the country for over a decade.

Read more: Rolls-Royce Roped Into Petrobras Corruption Scandal

A former Petrobras manager spoke at a hearing on March 11 and admitted to having taken bribes as far back as 1997. Pedro Barusco said he took over $100 million in bribes over the years, but he dropped a bombshell on the hearing when he said that the PT probably accepted twice as much.

Barusco met directly with the PT treasurer and would discuss the specifics of how the bribe scheme would work. “That makes me estimate that between $150 million and $200 million went to the PT,” he said.

Read more: New Petrobras CEO Facing Widespread Disapproval

The scandal has the PT in a state of crisis. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has had no choice but to allow an investigation to unfold, which has now ensnared 47 top political officials and allies, including the most powerful members of Congress. To make matters worse, Rousseff’s coalition partners are starting to abandon her, which will make responding to the deteriorating economy politically difficult.

Along with a stagnating economy, the high cost of living, and a horrific drought facing parts of Brazil, the public is angry at the extent of corruption that appears to reach all the way to the top of the Brazilian political system. Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets this weekend to demand the resignation or impeachment of President Rousseff.

Read more: The Plot Thickens In Petrobras Corruption Scandal

But the President and her party are not the only casualties of the Petrobras scandal. Petrobras itself is in serious trouble. According to Galp Energia, a company that partners with Petrobras to drill for oil, the fallout from the scandal will likely delay four major offshore oil projects. That could significantly cut into Petrobras’ future production levels.

As debt piles up and the corruption probe digs deeper, Petrobras is looking weaker by the day. In late February, Moody’s downgraded the oil giant to “junk” status.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME brazil

Brazil Enacts Law Imposing Stricter Penalties for Violence Against Women

Dilma Rousseff
Eraldo Peres—AP Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a signing ceremony for a harsher law against femicide, at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 9, 2015.

The new legislation is seen as a victory for Brazilian women

Brazil has passed new legislation that imposes harsher penalties for those who harm or kill women and girls.

President Dilma Rousseff signed the femicide law on Monday, saying it was part of the government’s zero-tolerance policy towards violence against women in a country where 15 women are killed every day, reports the BBC.

Under Brazil’s criminal code, femicide is now described as any crime that involves domestic violence, contempt or discrimination against women.

Aggravated murder charges will carry sentences of between of 12 to 30 years imprisonment.

The bill also includes longer jail terms for crimes committed against pregnant women, those under 14 years of age, women over 60 and people with disabilities.

Rights groups hail the law as a triumph for Brazilian women, days after International Women’s Day celebrations.

“The law identifies femicide as a specific phenomena. This kind of law is preventive in nature,” said the Representative of U.N. Women in Brazil, Nadine Gasman.

Brazil joins several other Latin American countries in enacting such legislation, including El Salvador, which has one of the highest murder rates of women in the world.

[BBC]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com