World News

Protests and Looting Follow Brazilian Carrefour Store Killing

Street protests and episodes of store looting were seen across Brazil after a video of a black man’s killing by grocery store security guards went viral.

Two Carrefour employees were filmed beating a 40-year-old black man to death in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on Thursday. By Friday, which happened to be Black Consciousness Day in Brazil, protesters had gathered in the streets of the city, and in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to object to the killing and — more broadly — to the country’s racism. Some protesters carried banners that read “Black Lives Matter” in Portuguese.

The protests forced the closing of the chain in Rio de Janeiro and resulted in police launching tear gas at participants in Porto Alegre. On Friday, Carrefour announced that they would be terminating their contract with the company that provided the security guards, local media reported.

President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted late Friday about the country’s violence and conflicts, but didn’t acknowledge the black man’s death or address racism. He said “there’s no use in dividing the people’s suffering by groups” and added the country has problems that “go beyond racial issues.” Earlier, Vice-President Hamilton Mourao told journalists “there’s no racism in Brazil.”

The grocery chain has been a source of unrest in Brazil in the past. In 2018, Carrefour security killed a dog at a store in Sao Paulo state, drawing protesters to the location. And in August of this year, after a salesman suffered a heart attack and died, store employees covered his body with umbrellas and left the supermarket open for business.

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World News

Brazil Says Privatizations Will Help Save the Environment

Brazil is framing its slow-moving privatization program as a way to protect forests and rivers following international investors’ mounting criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies.

Martha Seillier, special secretary of the Investments Partnerships Program, said infrastructure building via concessions and privatizations not only represents good business opportunities but is also an environment-friendly strategy as the country battles a reputation damaged by surging deforestation rates and rampant forest fires.

“It’s not true that the Brazilian government doesn’t care about the environment,” Seillier said in a video interview. “The question is how we obtain the resources and solutions we need to preserve the environment.”

Recently-appproved legislation backed by the government to facilitate the privatization of water and sewage treatment will reduce river pollution and improve hygiene standards, and railways concessions will cut down on car dependence, she said, adding that wind and hydroelectric facilities are also opening to concessionaires.

Read more: Brazil Unlocks Billions of Dollars in Sanitation Investment

“As big funds are increasingly seeking ESG portfolios, we have very significant green investment proposals,” she said of environmental, social and governance opportunities.

Brazil’s allure to investors was initially boosted by Bolsonaro’s pro-business agenda, but big European funds and businesses have recently started to express dismay over his environmental policies, which included minimizing forest fires raging across the country and defunding enforcement agencies. As their pressure mounted, the government switched strategies and is now calling on the private sector to help protect the Amazon.

Slow Process

Bolsonaro has yet to deliver on his ambitious privatization promises as plans to sell large state-controlled entities aren’t ready yet.

“Considering the four-year presidential term, the main decisions were taken during the first year while the second one has been used for shaping the privatization models,” Seillier said. “If all goes well, next year is when auctions will actually take place.”

She cited asset managers Emgea and ABGF, food storage companies Ceagesp and CeasaMinas, and port manager Codesa as companies whose sales are likely to move faster next year. Postal service Correios and utility Eletrobras may also be privatized in 2021, pending congress approval, she said.

Read more: Brazil Seeks $2.7 Billion With Postal Service Privatization

But currency volatility has kept investors wary. The Brazilian real has been one of the worst-performing currencies among emerging-market economies, largely due to investor concerns that Bolsonaro may break a constitutional spending cap to finance a new cash-transfer social program aimed at mitigating the effects of the pandemic.

Seillier said Bolsonaro’s pro-business agenda is not at risk and that the government will create a currency hedge for investors. “There will be a separate account to compensate currency fluctuations that may affect investment.”

— With assistance by Martha Viotti Beck

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India’s Covid-19 Death Toll Tops 100,000 as Infections Spike

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India’s coronavirus death toll passed the 100,000 mark on Saturday, a milestone reached only by the U.S. and Brazil.

The South Asian nation’s total number of positive cases is 6.47 million and the death toll from the virus is 100,842, according to the health ministry. India may overtake the U.S. in the coming weeks to become the world’s worst-affected country.

54,441 in U.S.Most new cases today

-2% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​032 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

5.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), Aug.

Hospitals in several Indian states are struggling to maintain supplies of medical oxygen as manufacturers scramble to plug the gaps in supply and transportation.

Still, even as the epidemic surges across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has continued to gradually ease restrictions to open up the economy following the world’s biggest lockdown in late March.

India reported the biggest contraction among major economies last week, with gross domestic product shrinking 23.9% in the three months to June from a year earlier.

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