- Brazil calls in army to defuse conflicts over Indian lands
- Magnitude 5.6 earthquake strikes Pacific Ocean near Hawaii
- China, Mexico vow broad cooperation as Xi visits; no trade pact soon
Posted: 04 Jun 2013 07:40 PM PDT
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - President Dilma Rousseff's government said on Tuesday it would send 110 federal troops to the Brazilian farm state of Mato Grosso do Sul to try to prevent more violence between Indians claiming their ancestral territory and ranchers.
The government has been struggling to defuse tensions with indigenous tribes over farmland in several states as well as over hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.
Tensions escalated in a disputed property in Mato Grosso do Sul that was invaded last week for a second time by Terena Indians angered by the fatal shooting of one of their tribe's members. Local media said the man's cousin was shot and injured on a nearby ranch on Tuesday.
"We must avoid radicalizing a situation that goes back a long way in Brazilian history," Justice Minister Jose Cardozo told reporters after meeting lawmakers from Mato Grosso do Sul in Brasilia.
"We're not going to put out the flames by throwing alcohol on the bonfire," he said.
However, protests have now erupted across the country.
In Rio Grande do Sul state, about 2,000 Kaingang and Guarani Indians were blocking roads to protest the government's decision to put on hold the granting of ancestral lands to indigenous communities, a concession to Brazil's powerful farm lobby.
"The government has abandoned us. Dilma isn't supporting indigenous peoples," Indian chief Deoclides de Paula said by telephone from a blocked highway.
In Curitiba, the Parana state capital, 30 Kaingang Indians invaded the offices of the ruling Workers' Party on Monday and only agreed to leave 10 hours later when they were promised a meeting with Rousseff's chief of staff, Gleisi Hoffmann.
Hoffmann, who will run for governor of Parana next year, said last month that the role of the government's Indian affairs office, Funai, in land decisions would be restricted.
Cardozo, however, stressed on Tuesday that Funai would not be gutted and would continue to play a central role as the main institution that defends Indian rights, though others will be brought in to improve the process of deciding ancestral lands.
FIELDS BURN AFTER INDIAN DEATH
The government has been scrambling to avert violence since a 35-year-old Indian man was shot dead last week when police evicted 200 Terena from the disputed cattle ranch of a former congressman.
Angry Terena Indians armed with sticks, bows and arrows reoccupied the property on Friday and set fire to fields and blocked roads on Tuesday.
Late on Monday, a local judge extended for 36 hours the eviction order, allowing more time for a peaceful resolution.
Brazil's indigenous land policy, established in the country's constitution, is considered one of the most progressive in the world, with about 13 percent of the huge South American nation's territory already set aside for Indians.
Farmers say Funai is trying to create reservations on land that has belonged to European-descended settlers for 150 years.
In another move to ease tensions with Brazil's indigenous population, one of Rousseff's ministers, Gilberto Carvalho, met in Brasilia with Munduruku Indians flown in on air force planes from the Tapajos, the only major river in the Amazon basin with no dams.
They want the government to shelve plans to build a dozen dams there, while the government hopes to finish work on the controversial Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River, a huge project aimed at feeding Brazil's fast-growing demand for electricity.
Last week Indians paralyzed work at one of three building sites at Belo Monte, which is slated to become the world's third-largest dam, capable of producing 11,233 megawatts of electricity - equivalent to about 10 percent of Brazil's total current generating capacity.
Belo Monte is a pet project of Rousseff, but has become the target of international criticism by environmental groups. It has also become a stage for Indians from other parts of the Amazon.
"We went to see for ourselves what a hydroelectric dam is and we saw that it has nothing good in store for us," a Munduruku leader told Carvalho, adding that promised development had not benefited the Indians of the Xingu. "We saw Indians being humiliated and we do not want that for our region."
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Brunnstrom)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:36 PM PDT
(Reuters) - A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Hawaii's big island on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury and no tsunami was generated, a spokesman for the governor said.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean 33 miles (54 km) southeast of Pahala on the big island of Hawaii.
A spokesman for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said the temblor was felt across the big island and Maui but that authorities had not received any reports of damage or injuries.
Darryl Oliveira, director of the Hawaii County Civil Defense, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the agency sent out a mass notification of the quake via text messages, email and radio broadcasts.
"It was a pretty significant jolt," Oliveira told the newspaper.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Christopher Wilson)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:32 PM PDT
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - China and Mexico promised broad cooperation on issues ranging from energy to mining and infrastructure during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, but any free-trade pact between the emerging market powers is still some way off.
Mexico's government has voiced worry about its massive trade deficit with China, an imbalance Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wants to set right.
Mexico wants "to find a greater equilibrium in our trade balance," Pena Nieto said during a joint address to the media with Xi. They did not take questions.
He said the two countries had also agreed to defuse a standoff over textiles that had resulted in litigation.
The two governments signed agreements to cooperate on commercial defence, and agreed on access for Mexican tequila and Mexican pork to the Chinese market.
State oil monopoly Pemex said Export-Import Bank of China would provide it with a $1 billion (653 million pounds) credit line to buy ships and offshore equipment. It also signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Xinxing Cathay International Group to explore ways to work together on pipelines.
More than 15 percent of Mexico's imports came from China in 2012 - an amount worth $57 billion - while just 1.5 percent, or $5.7 billion, of Mexican exports went to the Asian giant.
Xi said China planned to sign commercial contracts to buy an additional $1 billion worth of Mexican goods, but did not specify what.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said it was too soon for a free-trade agreement between the two countries - something China is eager to pursue.
'TOO EARLY' FOR FTA
"I think at this stage it is too early to talk about a free-trade agreement," Meade told local radio.
"I think we are still at a stage at which we are becoming aware of opportunities, opening a space for business dialogue, so it does not seem to be the instrument or path which best serves us," he added, saying it was an alternative to evaluate in the future.
Mexico ran a slight surplus with its global trading partners last year, but posted a huge deficit with China, largely because of an influx of manufactured goods.
Mexico and China have been direct competitors to supply the U.S. market with manufactured goods and Mexican producers have fought to keep the Chinese off their turf.
"We have agreed on the importance of reinforcing mutual political trust, and broadening cooperation," Xi said through a Spanish translator.
Xi is set to address Mexico's Congress on Wednesday before heading to the ancient Maya pyramids of Chichen Itza. He then flies to the United States to meet President Barack Obama later in the week.
Mexico has regained U.S. market share in recent years as the labour-cost differential with China has narrowed sharply, eating into a Chinese cost advantage.
A decade ago, Mexico's average labour costs were nearly three times higher than China's but, according to at least one report this year, hourly wages in Mexico are now lower.
Mexico is part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which aim to boost trade among the Americas, Asia and Australasia. The talks include the United States, Canada and other major economies on the Pacific rim.
China has said it will study the prospect of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
(Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
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