Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his American counterpart Donald Trump assured him on Friday that he will not impose tariffs on the South American country's steel and aluminum.
"I had the great satisfaction of receiving a call from President Donald Trump. A 15-minute long conversation, with a spirit of cordiality and respect between two heads-of-states," Bolsonaro said in a short Facebook live video.
"Our aluminum, our steel will not be over-taxed," Bolsonaro said.
Brazil was among a group of U.S. allies initially exempted from such tariffs. On Dec. 2, however, Trump accused Brazil and neighboring Argentina of manipulating their currencies and hurting American farmers and pledged to lift the exemption.
On his own Twitter feed, President Trump said he had "a great call" with Bolsonaro but did not mention the tariffs.
"We discussed many subjects including Trade. The relationship between the United States and Brazil has never been Stronger!" Trump said.
If confirmed that Trump has walked back his prior decision, that would come as a relief for Bolsonaro and help him save face. Bolsonaro has focused much of his diplomacy on rapprochement with the U.S. and Trump's tariff announcement this month caught the Brazilian government by surprise.
With the failure of the U.N. climate conference to produce an agreement, some Brazilians who participated in previous climate meetings say their country is now part of the problem in efforts to forge an international approach to global warming.
Others, taking a cue from Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, are blaming the world's wealthy nations. Salles demanded money from industrialized countries to help with protecting the Amazon, accused those countries of being hypocritical about addressing climate change.
Salles also took a jab at environmentalists who wring their hands over what they consider damage caused by beef consumption. He tweeted a photo of his enormous beef meal "to offset carbon emissions" at the Madrid conference.
Activists questioned what Brazil's role will be in climate conferences, noting that the two-week conference held in Madrid originally was supposed to be put on by Brazil, before Jair Bolsonaro took office as president last Jan. 1. His government declined to do so, citing fiscal constraints.
Where previous Brazilian administrations sought to join in multinational approaches to dealing with problems, Bolsonaro takes a more Brazil-centered view along with a combative, far-right political approach.
He has questioned whether activists were behind some of the fires that raged in the Amazon region this year and accuses nonprofit groups of working on behalf of international powers to hinder Brazil's development. He has presented no evidence for either claim.
Rubens Ricupero, a former Brazilian environment minister and head of the U.N. trade and development organization, said the government's approach in Madrid "had no pragmatism at all" and could hurt Brazil's trade and efforts to attract investment. He said he attended the U.N.'s historic 1992 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, where global warming discussions started gaining traction.
"Brazil's administration has moderated on a few topics, such as bringing Chinese investment in, which they refused until not long ago. But there has been no moderation in environmental discussions, (or) in anything that has a relation with human rights," Ricupero said.
Claudio Angelo, communications coordinator for the nonprofit group Observatório do Clima, said the Brazilian delegation left journalists and activists in the dark about its positions during the negotiations in Madrid.
"Diplomats and nonprofits often have disagreements, but that never stopped conversations during meetings, some of them very frank. But that didn't happen this time," Angelo said.
Two Brazilian diplomats who took part in the climate conference did not respond to a request for comment on their handling of negotiations.
Salles said rich countries were the cause of the failure to reach agreement in Madrid. "They want measures and point their fingers at the rest of the world, but when they have to put their hands into their pockets they don't want to," he said on Twitter.
Conservative pundit Rodrigo Constantino agreed with Salles' assessment.
"They are trying to kick the ladder out from under developing countries. One thing is for a rich country to talk about much more expensive alternative energy. Another is for developing countries like Brazil to replace their energy sources," Constantino said on Jovem Pan radio.
Celso Amorim, who led Brazil's delegation at the 2009 climate change conference, said the positions taken by Bolsonaro's administration at the U.N. meeting will have an impact on future discussions.
"Until recently, leaders of other countries looked to Brazil for some help on this issue," Amorim said in an interview. "Now Brazil is the problem, and that surely brings consequences for agribusiness, for example."
He added that he was a diplomat during Brazil's hard-line military dictatorship, but said that "even then there was much more moderation in international forums."
Chile's defense minister said Thursday that human remains have been found from a military aircraft that disappeared on a flight to Antarctica.
The plane was carrying 38 passengers when it took off from southernmost Chile on Monday. Searchers on Wednesday found debris floating the water believed to be from the plane.
The C-130 Hercules military transport plane was bound for a Chilean base on the frozen continent.
Nearly two months ago, Catalina Santana jumped a turnstile in the Santiago metro and helped launch a movement that changed the course of Chilean history.
Student protests over a fare hike morphed into a nationwide call for socioeconomic equality and better social services that brought millions to the streets and forced President Sebastián Piñera to increase benefits for the poor and disadvantaged and start a process of constitutional reform.
But Santana, 18, isn't done. Although the headlines have faded, she and thousands of other young people are still taking to the streets of Santiago and other Chilean cities almost daily to demand the government follow through on its promises of chance.
Two similar student-driven movements over the last decade and a half led to significant but limited reforms in education policy, including lower costs for university students. The young protesters are hoping that this time around they will be able to force the government to make deep-rooted structural changes that address the fundamental causes of inequality, economic injustice and poor social services in Chile.
"If my grandmother retires, she shouldn't die of hunger," Santana said during a recent protests in central Santiago. "If I go to a hospital, I shouldn't die waiting for treatment. The professor teaching my classes shouldn't be paid so little money. It can't be this way."
Starting with high-school students in 2006, then university students five years later, Chile has been hit by regular, large-scale protests led by young people that have won concessions from the government.
High school students' protests won discounts on public transportation and the waiver of charges for university entrance exams for most students. University students won free tuition for nearly half the students in the country, and lower interest rates on student loans.
In several cases, student protesters went on to become left-wing legislators who are now pushing for the reforms demanded by the street protesters.
"In 2006 and 2011 we won partial solutions," said Fabrizio Termini, a 31-year-old law student who went onto the streets for the third time this year. "Now the support is widespread for all the demands we made, somewhat timidly, for years, and every sector of society is hoping for solutions to their problems."
Piñera has already canceled some interest payments on student loans, but protesters are demanding more relief for education payments and related debt.
The largely peaceful protests have been accompanied by vandalism and violence at the hands of masked young people in cities across Chile, and use of tear gas and non-lethal ammunition fired by police that has wounded thousands.
Tensions across the country remain high despite the government's slight raising of pensions for the poorest citizens, a hike in the minimum wage, a freeze of power prices, increased taxes on the richest people and the granting of additional medical benefits under the public health system.
Protesters say they have no plans to stop and like Catalina Santana, many are high-schoolers, who have shown up at protest after protest even as adults and university-age students stopped attending.
"In many senses, they've been in the vanguard," said Mario Garcés, a historian of social movements in Chile. "Many times they've been a step ahead, announcing what's to come."
Gabriel Boric, a 2011 student leader who became a left-wing congressman, said he was confident that the 2019 student-led movement would lead to important changes in Chile.
"The movement today is part of something that's happening worldwide, with people protesting to express deep unhappiness, and it will end up provoking a much-needed reconfiguration of the political map in Chile."
Gunmen opened fire Saturday on a group of indigenous people in Brazil's Maranhao state, killing two, according to the state's public security secretariat.
The attack on members of the Guajajara group, known for its forest guardians who protect their territory against illegal deforestation, occurred on the margins of a federal highway near El-Betel village. The assailants lowered the car's windows and immediately started shooting, Magno Guajajara, a local leader, told the Associated Press.
The incident comes during the U.N.'s two-week international climate change conference in Madrid, where Brazilian indigenous leaders are present and attempting to draw attention to the importance of protecting their forest territories. Last month, one of the Guajajara's forest guardians was killed.
"How long will this go on? Who will be next?" Sonia Guajajara, coordinator of a network to connect Brazilian indigenous peoples, said in a phone interview from Madrid. "The authorities need to look at our indigenous people. They're taking away our lives."
Brazil's federal police are investigating the killing in El-Betel and its motivation, Justice Minister Sergio Moro said on social media. Moro also said he is evaluating the possibility of dispatching a National Guard team to the state.