“Brazil is back.” That has been Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's refrain for the better part of the last year, with the president deploying the snappy slogan to cast Brazil — and himself — as a leader of the Global South no longer content to abide the world's outdated workings. Last year, Lula thwarted the reelection bid of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, who showed little interest in geopolitics or diplomacy during his four years in office. Lula, by contrast, has crisscrossed the globe and visited 21 countries in recent months, from the United States to China, Italy to India, Argentina to Angola. He has sought to boost Brazil's cred with each state visit and speech, one multilateral forum after another. On Tuesday, his address at the U.N. General Assembly will mark his return to that rostrum for the first time since 2009, the last year of his previous presidency’s second term. Read: Brazil restores stricter climate goals “We will see references to the ‘Brazil is back’ narrative, as Brazil seeks to more broadly project itself as a country that not only wants to preserve, but also lead the reforms of the multilateral system in the coming years,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo. That will also serve to contrast himself with Bolsonaro, who wasn't seen as a reliable supporter of multilateralism. Lula's election victory last year was the narrowest in Brazil's modern history, and the danger of fierce polarization in Brazil's young democracy was evident even after he took office. Bolsonaro supporters stormed the capital in an attempt to oust him from power. Many thought Lula would need to stay home to focus exclusively on domestic issues and healing a riven society. But he has simultaneously pursued a whirlwind of international touring more typical of a president's second term. PUSHING FOR GLOBAL GOVERNANCE — BRAZIL-STYLE During Lula’s travels, he has pushed for global governance that gives greater heft to the Global South and advocating diminishing the dollar’s dominance in trade. He has made clear that Brazil has no intention of siding with the United States or China, the world’s two largest economies and Brazil’s two biggest trading partners. Read: Brazil's Amazon Summit ends with a plan to protect the world's rainforests, but no measurable goals And he has refused to join Washington and Western Europe in backing Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, instead calling for a club of nations to mediate peace talks. After the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrest, Lula said he would review Brazil's membership in the court. Lula’s comments on some of these issues have already raised eyebrows in Washington, or even drawn criticism. Some are likely to be present in his speech on Tuesday. “I expect Lula to give very strong speech in defense of the Global South, in defense of a multipolar order with a much bigger role for the U.N., and the need for wealthy countries, including the U.S., to pay their fair share on climate issues,” said Brian Winter, a longtime Brazil expert and vice president of the New York-based Council of the Americas. “I don’t think Lula will pass up an opportunity to champion these causes in front of the world.” When Lula took office in January, some in the Biden administration had expected him to become a staunch ally, but there has been recognition that he is more a partner who, Winter says, “will not fundamentally change his world view.” Biden and Lula are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting in New York on Wednesday and participate in an event with labor organizers, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday. Brazilian and American presidents, who speak first and second at the general assembly, also typically meet backstage for a few minutes beforehand. That didn’t occur last year with Bolsonaro in office. Read: Heading for UN, Ukraine's president questions why Russia still has a place there Regarding the Ukraine war, at least, Biden appears to have become more willing to look past differences with complicated allies that he badly needs to keep close for the sake of stability. His pragmatic approach was on display the G20 summit in New Delhi this month in his friendly interactions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Those two leaders have not shied from saying no to Biden and have paid little regard when he raises concerns about their human rights records. Lula’s divergences with Washington were on display as recently as this weekend as he rekindled relations with Cuba and denounced Washington’s policy toward the Caribbean island. Cuba “is the victim of an illegal economic embargo. Brazil is against any unilateral coercive measure,” Lula said in Havana on Saturday, adding that Brazil opposes its inclusion on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Lula likewise visited Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro in May. There, he said allegations of the country’s authoritarianism stem from a false narrative — despite widespread political arrests and election interference as well as threats to journalists. Some in Washington had initially hoped Lula could be helpful in advancing a shared agenda in Venezuela, Winter said. LULA HAS COMPETITORS IN HIS LEADERSHIP BID Lula isn't alone in his ambition to enact a vision for the developing world of his making. Modi has endeavored do the same, saying in an independence day speech last month that “India is becoming the voice of the Global South.” And India has greater economic and strategic importance to the world than Brazil, which makes Lula’s quest to occupy that role more challenging, according to Thomas Traumann, a Brazilian political analyst. That was perhaps evident earlier this month when Modi announced the African Union's entry into the G20. Its chair, Azali Assoumani, walked swiftly across the room and the two men shared a warm bear hug. As they stood embracing, Lula remained seated while applauding a few feet away and nearly out of the camera frame. Afterward, he shook Assoumani's hand briefly. Read: As leaders convene, the UN pushes toward its crucial global goals. But progress is lagging Lula will have his chance to welcome foreign leaders for important multilateral fora in coming years, as well, hosting the G20 next year and likely the U.N. climate conference in 2025. Already Lula has been at least one of the “most important voices in defense of reshaping the political and economic architecture established after the Second World War,” if not the most important, said Paulo Peres, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. And his speech Tuesday will reflect Brazil's longstanding demands — namely, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council — as well as Lula's efforts to date this year. Said Peres: “The opening speech is the culmination of these past months, where Lula has been working to reposition Brazil on the international stage.”
Brazil is reinstating stronger greenhouse gas commitments it made in 2015 as part of the Paris Agreement that were weakened under former President Jair Bolsonaro. The announcement was made Thursday by the country’s Committee on Climate Change, a joint body made up of 18 government ministries. “Brazil is a major actor in helping the planet in this challenging moment,” Vice President Geraldo Alckmin said during the committee meeting in Brasilia. Flooding in southern Brazil leaves at least 31 dead and 2,300 homeless The change will be officially transmitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international body that works to advance global action on climate change. It tracks each country’s Nationally Determined Contribution or commitment to reducing national emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. During the tenure of far-right President Bolsonaro, Brazil backtracked on its Nationally Determined Contribution calculation twice. The most recent weakening occurred in 2021 and was estimated by the Climate Observatory, a network of numerous environmental and social groups, to increase Brazil’s target emissions by 73 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030. Brazil’s target under the Paris Agreement is 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2. Fierce storm in southern Brazil kills at least 21 people and displaces more than 1,600 Releasing its own analysis Friday, the Talanoa Institute, a climate policy-focused think tank, called the restoration merely an initial step, saying bolder commitments are needed. The Institute said the emissions target process should be opened to society as a whole in contrast to what it called the closed-door decision-making that has taken place up until now. This would enable Brazil to set more ambitious targets, not merely reinstate commitments from 2015, it argued. Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing nearly 3% of global emissions, according to Climate Watch, an online platform managed by the World Resources Institute. Brazil's Amazon Summit ends with a plan to protect the world's rainforests, but no measurable goals Almost half of these emissions stem from destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest, which reached a 15-year high during Bolsonaro’s presidency. The former president dismantled Brazil’s environmental agencies in favor of expanding agribusiness, neglecting preservation efforts. In a stark turnaround, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has reduced deforestation by 48% for the period from January to August. In Lula's first six months, Brazil Amazon deforestation dropped 34%, reversing trend under Bolsonaro
A small passenger plane crashed in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest Saturday, killing all 14 people on board, Amazonas state Gov. Wilson Lima announced. “I deeply regret the death of the 12 passengers and two crew members who were victims of the plane crash in Barcelos on Saturday,” Lima said on X, formerly known as Twitter. The Embraer PT-SOG aircraft had taken off from Manaus, the Amazonas state capital and the biggest city in the Amazon, and was attempting to land in heavy rain when it crashed, local media reported. The passengers were Brazilian tourists on their way to fish, the reports said. Read: Russia says it has confirmed Prigozhin died in the plane crash Video footage posted by the Globo television network showed the plane lying on a muddy dirt track with the front part of the aircraft in green foliage. A couple of dozen people are seen standing nearby holding umbrellas. Read: 5 killed in Poland as plane crashes into hangar The Brazilian air force sent a team from Manaus to collect information and preserve any evidence that could be used for the investigation into the crash, an air force statement said. Read more: Small plane crashes in Malaysia, with at least 9 bodies recovered
A strong earthquake followed quickly by a strong aftershock shook Colombia’s capital and other major cities Thursday, sending panicked residents out onto the streets and damaging Colombia’s congressional chamber. At least one person was reported killed. Read also: More than 60 Senegalese migrants are feared dead on a monthlong voyage to Spain The midday quakes were both centered about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Bogota, with the first one registering a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 and the aftershock registering a preliminary magnitude of 5.7, the U.S. Geological Survey said. A magnitude 5.0 earthquake rattled Colombia later Thursday evening. People in the capital city of 11 million felt buildings and floors rumble, and alarms blared as throngs of residents left their homes and gathered outside. “Everything was moving, and people came out screaming, ‘It’s shaking, it’s shaking!’,” Bogota resident Gonzalo Martin said. “A lot of people started to rush out onto the street because of the tremor.” Read also: Pakistan arrests 129 Muslims after mob attacks on churches and homes of minority Christians Paula Henao, the Bogota fire department’s deputy director of operations, said one person died when they panicked and jumped from the seventh floor of a building. The quake trapped some residents in elevators, and prompted scores of emergency calls to firefighters, Henao said. Read also: China appears to be building an airstrip on a disputed South China Sea island A patch of ornate stonework from the ceiling at Colombia’s House of Representatives in Bogota fell onto the seating area for lawmakers, according to video posted on an official congressional account on X, formerly known as Twitter. The chamber was unoccupied at the time, and nobody there was hurt there. The earthquake was also felt in other big cities like Medellín and Cali. Videos on social media showed furniture shaking and chandeliers swinging during the quake.
An Ecuadorian presidential candidate known for speaking up against cartels and corruption was shot and killed Wednesday at a political rally in the capital, amid a startling wave of gang-driven violence in the South American country. President Guillermo Lasso confirmed the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio and suggested organized crime was behind his slaying, less than two weeks before the Aug. 20 presidential election. "I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished," Lasso said in a statement. "Organized crime has gone too far, but they will feel the full weight of the law." Also read: Japan's ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech Ecuador's attorney general's office said that one suspect died in custody from wounds sustained in a firefight after the killing, and police detained six suspects following raids in Quito. In his final speech before he was killed, Villavicencio promised a roaring crowd that he would root out corruption and lock up the country's "thieves." Prior to the shooting, Villavicencio said he had received multiple death threats, including from affiliates of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, one of a slew of international organized crime groups that now operate in Ecuador. He said his campaign represented a threat to such groups. "Here I am showing my face. I'm not scared of them," Villavicencio said in a statement, naming detained crime boss José Adolfo Macías by his alias "Fito." Also read: Rohingya leader Mohibullah assassinated Villavicencio was one of eight candidates, though not the front-runner. The politician, 59, was the candidate for the Build Ecuador Movement. Supporter Ida Paez said that Villavicencio's campaign had given her hope that the country could overcome the gangs. At the rally, she said, "We were happy. Fernando even danced. His last words were, if someone messes with the people, he is messing with my family." As drug traffickers have begun to use the country's coastal ports, Ecuadorians have reeled from violence not seen for decades. The sounds of gunfire ring in many major cities as rival gangs battle for control, and gangs have recruited children. Just last month, the mayor of the port city of Manta was shot and killed. On July 26, Lasso declared a state of emergency covering two provinces and the country's prison system in an effort to stem the violence. Also read: Tension rises in Iraq after failed bid to assassinate PM Former vice president and candidate Otto Sonnenholzner said in a news conference following Wednesday's killing, "We are dying, drowning in a sea of tears and we do not deserve to live like this. We demand that you do something." Videos of the rally on social media appear to show Villavicencio walking out of the event surrounded by guards. The video then shows the candidate getting into a white pickup truck before gunshots are heard, followed by screams and commotion around the truck. This sequence of events was confirmed to The Associated Press by Patricio Zuquilanda, Villavicencio's campaign adviser. Lasso said "the murderers" threw a grenade into the street to cover their flight, but it didn't explode. Police later destroyed the grenade with a controlled explosion, he added. Zuquilanda said the candidate had received at least three death threats before the shooting, which he had reported to authorities, resulting in one detention. He called on international authorities to take action against the violence, attributing it to rising violence and drug trafficking. "The Ecuadorian people are crying and Ecuador is mortally wounded," he said. "Politics cannot lead to the death of any member of society." Villavicencio was one of the country's most critical voices against corruption, especially during the 2007-2017 government of President Rafael Correa. He was also an independent journalist who investigated corruption in previous governments, later entering politics as an anti-graft campaigner. Villavicencio filed many judicial complaints against high-ranking members of the Correa government, including against the ex-president himself. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for defamation over his criticisms of Correa, and fled to Indigenous territory in Ecuador, later receiving asylum in neighboring Peru. Edison Romo, a former military intelligence colonel, said the anti-corruption complaints made Villavicencio "a threat to international criminal organizations." Lasso, a conservative former banker, was elected in 2021 on a business-friendly platform and clashed from the start with the left-leaning majority coalition in the National Assembly. A snap election was called after Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree in May, in a move to avoid being impeached over allegations that he failed to intervene to end a faulty contract between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company. Ecuador's constitution includes a provision that allows the president to disband the assembly during a political crisis, but then requires new elections for both the assembly and the presidency. Diana Atamaint, the president of the National Electoral Council, said the election date, Aug. 20, was "unalterable" due to constitutional and legal mandates, as well as electoral activities that have already been approved by the council. The country has faced a series of political upheavals in recent years. Authorities said that at least nine others were injured in the Wednesday shooting, including officers and a congressional candidate, in what they described as a "terrorist act." The killing was met with an outcry by other candidates who demanded action, with presidential front-runner Luisa González of the Citizen Revolution party saying "when they touch one of us, they touch all of us." Villavicencio was married and is survived by five children.
The number of migrants crossing Panama's dangerous, jungle-clad Darien Gap swelled to almost 250,000 in the first seven months of 2023, surpassing the number that crossed in all of 2022, officials said Friday. It is a record pace of migration through the gap, which connects South America to Central America. The surge comes despite an agreement announced in April between the United States, Colombia and Panama to offer alternatives to migration. The United Nations projects that if the pace keeps up, as many as 400,000 may cross the gap by the year's end. Experts say it would be hard to crack down on the smuggling gangs that operate the route. At least 39 migrants dead in bus crash in Panama Panama's National Immigration service said 248,901 migrants had made the trip through July 31, and that 21% of those crossing were children or adolescents. Security Minister Juan Manuel Pino confirmed that was higher than last year's total. Migrants from South America — mainly Venezuelans — use the Darien Gap to travel be land through Central America and to the U.S. southwestern border. But a host of people from other places, including Africa and Asia, travel to South America to use the gap as well. Greece: 32 migrants dead, more than 100 rescued after fishing vessel capsizes In April, The United States, Panama and Colombia said in a joint statement said the countries will use "new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration." The also involved investment to reduce poverty and create jobs in the Colombian and Panamanian border communities, presumably so fewer people work at smuggling migrants
Bolivia is now using the yuan to pay for imports and exports, becoming the latest country in South America to regularly use the Chinese currency in a small but growing challenge to the hegemony of the U.S. dollar for international financial transactions in the region. Between May and July of this year, Bolivia conducted financial operations amounting to 278 million Chinese yuan ($38.7 million), which accounts for 10% of its foreign trade during that period, Economy Minister Marcelo Montenegro said on Thursday. "We're already using the yuan. It's a reality and a good start," Montenegro said during a news conference. "Banana, zinc, and wood manufacturing exporters are conducting transactions in yuan, as well as importers of vehicles and capital goods." These electronic transactions are carried out through the state-owned Banco Unión. Also read: Bangladesh clears payment of $318 million in Yuan to Russia for nuclear power plant "The amount being used in yuan is still relatively small, but it will increase over time," Montenegro said. With these transactions, Bolivia joins other countries in South America, most notably Brazil and Argentina, which are using the yuan. The three countries are ruled by leftist or left-leaning governments. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the use of the yuan is growing especially "in those countries that are looking to establish stronger ties with China, that view themselves as in some way politically aligned on this particular objective on decreasing their overall reliance on the dollar and on the U.S. in general," said Margaret Myers, director of the Asia & Latin America Program at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue. The use of the yuan comes at a time when China's footprint in the region is increasing with rising trade and investment. Also read: ‘De-dollarisation’: Bangladesh, India to trade using taka, rupee from September "There is a lot of anxiety in Washington about threats to the special role of the dollar in regions like Latin America," Benjamin Gedan, director of the Latin America Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said. "China's new role as a lender of last resort in Argentina, and the use of the yuan for international trade by Bolivia, are a sign of the times." Earlier this year, Argentina's government unveiled a plan to use the yuan to pay for imports from China as a way to preserve its dwindling foreign reserves and it has raised the possibility of paying off debts with the International Monetary Fund using the Chinese currency. In Brazil, the yuan surpassed the euro as the second most important currency in its foreign reserves at the end of 2022, when 5.37% of the central bank's holdings were in the Chinese currency, compared to 4.74% for the euro. In Bolivia, the yuan started to be used after months of severe dollar shortages that have been impacting the country's economy since February. Some analysts and members of the opposition have questioned the move to use the yuan. Also read: Top 10 Strongest Currencies in the World in 2023 "It is not a long-term solution, and it seems more like an attempt to cover up economic problems," said José Gabriel Espinoza, an economics professor at Bolivia's Catholic University. The manager of the Chamber of Exporters of Bolivia, Marcelo Olguín, dismissed the criticism, characterizing the use of the yuan as merely "an alternative to operate." Beyond political considerations, looking for alternatives to the U.S. dollar that has become more expensive amid rising interest rates also makes economic sense, said Rebecca Ray, senior academic researcher at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center. "They're all facing the same global macroeconomic conditions, and the most important part of that is the US dollar is really expensive and hard to get a hold of. So there's basically a global dollar shortage among current central banks," Ray said. "Central banks everywhere are looking for alternatives." Bolivia's President Luis Arce said earlier this month the Andean country was looking for alternatives amid a "dollar liquidity crisis." During a visit to China in April, Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva questioned the omnipresence of the U.S. dollar in foreign trade. "Who was it that decided that the dollar was the currency after the disappearance of the gold standard?" he said. Beijing is welcoming this new dynamic after years of a concerted effort to push for the yuan to be used more widely on the international stage. "China clearly wants to challenge the global dominance of the dollar, both for practical and symbolic purposes," Gedan said. Now that is starting to be more appealing to more countries. "China has been wanting to internationalize (its currency) for many years. What is new is that other countries are receptive to the idea because the current situation isn't sustainable," Ray said. Experts agree though that any large-scale shift to the yuan is unlikely in the near future. "I think there's a sort of natural limit that most countries will hit," Myers said. "So many transactions still need to be done using the dollar." The "primary limitation here is the fact that the Chinese financial system is still relatively closed," Myers added. Gedan added that at least "for now, there is generally more faith in the Fed than in China's central bankers."
An apartment building condemned for more than a decade but used by homeless people collapsed in Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, killing 14 people, including six children, firefighters reported Saturday. The building in Recife’s Paulista suburb crumbled in the early hours of Friday, prompting a frantic search for victims. Searchers combed through the rubble with the help of sniffer dogs and rescued two 15-year-old girls and a 65-year-old woman alive, firefighters said. An 18-year-old man was also removed alive, but later died from his injuries. “Search operations are now focused on the removal of animals,” the fire department said Saturday. Read: Drone footage of collapsed dam shows ruined structure, devastation and no sign of life The building was occupied by homeless people although living there had been forbidden since 2010, the Paulista city hall said in a statement. City officials referred to the structure as a “coffin block,” a name given to buildings built on a large scale in the 1970s in the metropolitan region of Recife, the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported. The city hall statement said the problem of people using officially closed buildings in Paulista is “chronic.” It said officials raised the issue during a recent visit by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is from the northeastern state. The collapse in Paulista was the second such tragedy in less than three months in Pernambuco. A building disintegrated in April in neighboring Olinda, causing at least five deaths. Read:Turkey earthquake: Missing Bangladeshi student rescued from collapsed building Heavy rains had soaked the Recife region before the building collapsed in Paulista, prompting Pernambuco’s water and climate agency to post an alert for the metropolitan area. A Presbyterian church near the site of the fallen building was offering housing assistance to families who had been living there, city officials said. The church was also collecting donations of food, clothes, mattresses, water and hygiene products, officials added. Read more: 8 more dead pulled from rubble of collapsed Florida condo
In Lula's first six months, Brazil Amazon deforestation dropped 34%, reversing trend under Bolsonaro
After four years of rising destruction in Brazil's Amazon, deforestation dropped by 33.6% during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's term, according to government satellite data released Thursday. From January to June the rainforest had alerts for possible deforestation covering 2,650 square kilometers (1,023 square miles), down from 4,000 square kilometers — an area the size of Rhode Island — during the same period last year under former President Jair Bolsonaro. This year's data includes a 41% plunge in alerts for June, which marks the start of the dry season when deforestation tends to jump. "The effort of reversing the curve of growth has been reached. That is a fact: we reversed the curve; deforestation isn't increasing," João Paulo Capobianco, the Environment Ministry's executive secretary, said during a presentation in Brasilia. An Amazon rainforest rite of passage in threatened territory Capobianco noted that full-year results will depend on a few challenging months ahead. Still, the data is an encouraging sign for Lula, who campaigned last year with pledges to rein in illegal logging and undo the environmental devastation during Bolsonaro's term. The former far-right leader weakened environmental authorities while his insistence on development of the Amazon region resonated with landgrabbers and farmers who had long felt maligned by environmental laws. They were emboldened, and Amazon deforestation surged to a 15-year high. Thursday's deforestation data comes from a system called Deter, managed by the National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency. It is an initiative mainly focused on detecting real-time deforestation. The most accurate deforestation calculations come from another system called Prodes, with data released only annually. "Bottom line, we are prioritizing environmental law enforcement," Jair Schmitt, head of environmental protection at Ibama, Brazil's federal environmental agency, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. However, the continued shortage of personnel means the task hasn't been easy, he said. Many Ibama agents retired and weren't replaced during Bolsonaro's administration, reflecting his effort to defang environmental authorities. Lula has committed to restoring the workforce, but the number of Ibama's enforcement agents remains at its lowest in 24 years. For the entire country that is bigger than the contiguous U.S., there are just 700 agents, with 150 available for deployment. Haunted by post-election riot, Brazil’s Lula reins in army Ibama has also strengthened remote surveillance, where deforestation is detected through satellite imagery, according to Schmitt. By cross-referencing with land records, it is possible to identify the owner of the area in many cases, leading to an embargo that restricts access to financial loans and imposes other sanctions. Another strategy has been to seize thousands of illegally raised cattle within embargoed areas. It is effective because it inflicts immediate punishment, whereas fines are rarely paid in Brazil due to a slow appeals process, Schmitt said. Rodrigo Agostinho, the head of Ibama, noted in the presentation Thursday that the value of fines imposed in the first half of the year jumped 167% from the 2019-2022 average, and the agency embargoed 2,086 areas — up 111%. "We started the year with a lot of difficulty because of everything we inherited, reorganizing all the enforcement teams, environmental protection, reactivating tech systems," said Agostinho. Brazil: UN regional group has endorsed Amazon city to host 2025 climate conference Improved deforestation data also reflect the change in rhetoric coming from the top, said Schmitt. Whereas Bolsonaro openly criticized Ibama and advocated for the legalization of deforested areas, Lula has said he will rebuild law enforcement and promised to expel invaders from protected areas. Experts say the mere expectation that a land-grabbed area will eventually be regularized has historically been one of deforestation's biggest drivers. It may be premature to celebrate the reversal in deforestation's trend, however. According to satellite monitoring, there were 3,075 fires in the Amazon in June alone, which marks the beginning of the dry season — the most since 2007. The jump is due to the clearing of areas deforested in the second half of 2022, Schmitt said. In the Amazon, fires are mostly man-made and occur after clear-cutting of the forest. With El Niño looming, which typically brings less rain and higher temperatures to the Amazon, Ibama has doubled its budget for fighting forest fires and increased the scope of its fire squads by 17% for the most critical period, typically July to October. Approximately half of the 2,117 temporary firefighters are Indigenous peoples. The Amazon rainforest covers an area twice the size of India and holds tremendous stores of carbon, serving as a crucial buffer against climate change. Two-thirds of it is located in Brazil. Next month, Lula will preside over a meeting in Belem, bringing together heads-of-state from all Amazonian nations to discuss means to effectively cooperate in the challenging region. Lula has promised to end net deforestation in Brazil's Amazon by 2030. His four-year mandate, his third term, ends two years earlier. To achieve this, law enforcement alone will not be enough, says Adevaldo Dias, a rubber-tapper leader who presides over the Chico Mendes Memorial, a non-profit organization that assists traditional non-Indigenous communities in the Amazon. "It is necessary to invest in sustainable productive chains under community management, such as managed pirarucu (arapaima) fishing, Brazil nuts, vegetable oils, and açai," he told the AP. "This will help revitalize and expand these chains, generating decent income for those engaged in conservation efforts within their territories." Ibama's Agostinho also stressed his agency's efforts within Indigenous territories, particularly the land of the Yanomami people where thousands of illegal gold miners — seeking to carve out a living — invaded during Bolsonaro's term. Their activities contaminated waterways and sickened local people, and Lula's government has spent months expelling most of them. Some remain, however, working at night to avoid being caught, Agostinho said. "We are very content with the result so far," he said. "We know the fight isn't over, we will continue doing this work."
A bus carrying seniors to a casino collided with a semi-trailer truck at a highway intersection in a rural part of the Canadian province of Manitoba Thursday, killing 15 people and injuring 10 more, police said. Rob Hill, Commanding Officer of the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said the bus was carrying 25 people and authorities in Manitoba were deploying all their resources to the scene. Ten people were taken to hospitals. TV broadcasters aired images of what looked like a large van or bus smoldering in a ditch near a transport truck with a smashed engine on a road. The pavement was littered with debris — broken glass, a large bumper and what looked like a walking aid. Seven blue and yellow tarps were stretched out. Also read: Black Lives Matter movement lost support among Americans after 2020: Report RCMP Supt. Rob Lasson said "as of right now the drivers of both the bus and truck are alive and in hospital." He did not say if they were among the 10 listed as injured. The dead were mainly seniors. Lasson said the bus was heading south and there would have been a stop and yield sign. He said the bus was crossing the east bound lanes when it was struck by the truck that was going east, adding that who had the right of way is critical to the investigation. "The public is reeling and asking a lot of questions and people are trying to determine if their loved ones were involved," Lasson said. "Death on this scale is never normalized for us." Also read: At least 15 people killed and dozens injured in bus crash in Mali The crash scene was in Carberry, a city 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Manitoba's capital of Winnipeg. "The news from Carberry, Manitoba is incredibly tragic," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. "I'm sending my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones today, and I'm keeping the injured in my thoughts." A family support center has been set up at a Lutheran Church in Dauphin, Manitoba for relatives. Police said the people on the bus were from Dauphin and the areas around it. Flags have been lowered to half-staff at the Manitoba legislature. Also read: Bus carrying wedding guests in Australian wine region rolls over, killing 10 and injuring 25 A spokesperson for the Sand Hills Casino in Carberry said the van had been scheduled to arrive there later in the day. Kim Armstrong, the administrator of the Dauphin senior center, said the bus left from the senior center Thursday morning. The senior community is extremely tight knit in the city of around 8,600 people and the center is sometimes like a second home, she said. "It's huge to lose so many individuals of our community and of course it is shocking. We just pray for those that are surviving," she said. Armstrong said seniors and community members often go on trips on buses to nearby events or casinos. The truck company said in a statement it was heartbroken about the crash but had limited details about what happened. "We will fully cooperate with the investigation and offer any assistance and support that we can," said William Doherty, CEO of Day & Ross. Nirmesh Vadera, who was working at a business on the side of the highway when the crash happened, said he went outside and saw a transport truck with a smashed engine on the highway. The bus was on fire in the grass on the side of the road. First responders were trying to get people out of the burning vehicle, he said. "It was burning and all the (firefighters) and medical help and everybody was trying to get them away from the fire," he said. The crash brought back memories of the 2018 bus crash in the neighboring province of Saskatchewan that killed 16 people from the Humboldt Broncos minor league hockey team. Lasson said investigators in that crash are assisting. "Sadly this is a day in Manitoba and across Canada that will be remembered as one of tragedy and incredible sadness," said Hill, the RCMP commanding officer.