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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 18, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Brazil Protests Signal Growing Unrest

Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters  

Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters

Around 200,000 demonstrators marched through Brazil's biggest cities on Monday in a burgeoning wave of protests (BBC) signaling widespread anger at poor public services, police violence, and government corruption. The protests began as a movement against a hike in public transportation and the billions being spent ahead of next year's World Cup (MercoPress), which Brazil is hosting, and have intensified after images of police violence against protestors spread on social networks. The demonstrations rank among the largest (NYT) since the nation's military dictatorship ended in 1985, and have centralized in cities including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Curitiba, Belém and its capital, Brasília, where marchers made their way to the roof of Congress.


"Few doubt that the upgrades [for the World Cup and Olympics] are necessary, but civil rights groups question whether the money has been used as well as it should be and whether the rights of long-term residents and poor communities are being adequately addressed," writes Jonathan Watts for The Guardian.

"President Dilma Rousseff, who inherited an economy growing at 7.5 percent, has made an effort to stimulate recovery by hiking up public spending, minimum wages, and encouraging bank lending. Her attempts at reform have been welcomed by Brazilians--who gave her a near-80 percent approval rating in March--but her influence is limited and her popularity falling, as it becomes increasingly clear that Brazil is stuck," writes Jake Maxwell Watts for Quartz.

"Their bright banners bore diverse demands--but all reflected a fatigue with what people here get from the state. I repeatedly heard the word 'tired': protesters told me they were tired of corruption, of nepotism, of high taxes paid for poor public services. People chanted that others should join the movement and that 'the people have awakened,'" writes Julia Carneiro for the BBC.



Russia, Japan Agree on Future Talks

Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to send its top diplomat to Japan in the fall to boost political dialogue (JapanTimes). Putin also shored up bilateral talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on an island dispute that has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

CHINA: China launched the Shenzhen Emissions Exchange program Tuesday, trading its first carbon dioxide permits (Bloomberg) at 22 percent below the European price.

CFR's Scott Snyder discusses North Korea's defiant proposal for denuclearization talks in this blog post.



Kabul Marks Official Handover of Power

At least three people died after a bomb hit Kabul during the formal handover of nationwide security (al-Jazeera) from the U.S.-led NATO coalition to Afghan forces. The transition marks a milestone in the nearly twelve-year war against the Taliban, opening the way for full withdrawal in eighteen months.

PAKISTAN: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has been forced to delay a late-June visit to Pakistan due to the worsening crisis in Syria. Kerry had been slated for talks with the new government (AFP) of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.



Turkey Detains Protest Suspects

Turkish police raided homes in Istanbul and Ankara and detained dozens suspected of violence against police during recent protests (Bloomberg). The raids come after a Turkish newspaper reported that a representative from Ankara was boycotting a series of meetings with the EU.

IRAN: In his first news conference since Iran's Friday's election, president-elect Hassan Rowhani said that the country was ready to show more transparency on its nuclear program (BBC).

Suzanne Maloney discusses Rowhani's electoral win in this Foreign Affairs article.



Militants Drive Farmers From Nigeria

Islamic militants have driven nineteen thousand rice farmers from northeast Nigeria during a military crackdown that has prevented thousands more from cultivating fields, officials said. Nigeria's agriculture commissioner warned that food shortages were imminent (AP).

MOZAMBIQUE: Armed men killed six soldiers at a military weapons depot in central Mozambique. Former rebel group Renamo (ZeeNews) allegedly carried out the attack.



G8 Pushes Syria Agenda

G8 leaders will try on Tuesday to patch over differences to their approach to Syria (FT), aiming for a communiqué that stops short of demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear on Monday he was not prepared to abandon the Syrian leader.

The G8 retains an important role in a rapidly changing world, writes CFR's Stewart Patrick in this blog post.

EUROPEAN UNION: The EU and the United States will launch talks toward a free-trade agreement (WSJ) that officials hope will strengthen the world's biggest economic relationship. The first round of talks will be held next month in Washington.



Washington Appoints Official for Guantanamo Closing

The Obama administration announced Monday it had chosen a longtime Washington attorney to facilitate the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (LAT). The move comes three days after the Republican-led House passed a measure to keep the prison running.



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