Amid global concern about raging fires in the Amazon, Brazil’s government complained Thursday that it is being targeted in smear campaign by critics who contend President Jair Bolsonaro is not doing enough to curb widespread deforestation. French President Emmanuel Macron called the wildfires an international crisis and said the leaders of the Group of 7 nations should hold urgent discussions about them at their summit in France this weekend.
Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year, new space agency data suggests. The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said its satellite data showed an 84% increase on the same period in 2018. It comes weeks after President Jair Bolsonaro sacked the head of the agency amid rows over its deforestation data. Wildfires often occur in the dry season in Brazil but they are also deliberately started in efforts to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.
Police in Rio de Janeiro say a sniper has “neutralized” an armed man who took dozens of people hostage on a bus. The man, who reportedly identified himself as a policeman, took 37 people hostage on a bus that was traveling across a busy bridge connecting the suburb of Sao Goncalo to central Rio on Tuesday morning. All the hostages were released unharmed.
A Brazilian drug dealer who tried to escape prison dressed as his daughter has been found dead in his cell. Clauvino da Silva, a 42-year-old leader of one of the most powerful criminal groups in Brazil, Comando Vermelho, was stopped by guards at the prison in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. He was dressed in a silicon mask, a long-haired dark wig, tight jeans and a pink t-shirt – trying to pass off as his 19-year-old daughter, who had come to visit him.
At least 57 people have been killed in a prison riot in Brazil which saw rival gangs battle for five hours, officials say. Gang members from one prison block invaded another part of Altamira jail in Pará state. Sixteen of the dead were decapitated and the remainder suffocated after part of the prison was set on fire, officials said at a news conference.
Armed men stole $40 million of gold and other precious metals on Thursday from a Sao Paulo cargo terminal at South America’s busiest airport, taking two hostages, police said. A police report said the thieves left with about 750 kg (1,650 lbs) of gold and other precious metals, along with two airport workers taken as hostages, and remained at large.
Spanish police have arrested a member of the air force traveling with the Brazilian president’s advance party for the G20 summit in Japan after 39kg of cocaine was discovered in his luggage during a stopover in Seville. Bolsonaro confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday night, saying he had been informed of the airman’s arrest by the defense minister.
At least 40 prisoners in Brazil were found strangled to death on Monday in four jails in the Amazon jungle city of Manaus, where a fight between rival prison gangs resulted in 15 dead the day before, authorities said. A federal task force is being sent to Manaus in an effort to halt the violence. Prison clashes often spread rapidly in Brazil, where drug gangs have de facto control over nearly all jails. Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to regain control of the country’s prisons – along with building many more jails.
School textbooks in Brazil will be rewritten after its education minister denied a 1964 military coup, prompting accusations of historical revisionism. Ricardo Vélez Rodriguéz told the Valor Económico magazine that “there will be progressive changes [in textbooks] to the extent that a wider version of history is rescued.” The announcement comes days after a judge in Brazil barred far-Right president Jair Bolsonaro from publicly celebrating the anniversary of the 1964 coup that ousted the democratically elected government of João Goulart.
Two former students opened fire at a Brazilian school on Wednesday and killed at least five teenagers as well as two school officials before committing suicide in an attack that police said was inspired by the 1999 Columbine massacre in the United States. Ten people, including the two attackers, were killed in total, Sao Paulo police said. The students who died were boys mostly 15 and 16 years old. Police identified the assailants as Guilherme Taucci Monteiro, 17, and Luiz Henrique de Castro, 25. The 17-year-old was the leader and main planner, an investigator said.