Marielle Franco Presente!

Marielle Franco is present in our struggle for equality and democracy. She is a voice for the poor, for women, for the LGBT community, and people of color. She is with us in spirit and struggle.

Last Wednesday armed men gunned down Marielle and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes in downtown Rio de Janeiro after their attendance at an event organized to promote black women’s empowerment. Her murder is a political assassination.

Marielle was elected to the Rio de Janeiro city council eighteen months ago and was a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). Marielle was raised and lived most of her life in the favela of Maré located between the international airport and downtown. She earned her undergraduate degree at PUC-Rio and a Masters degree from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Public Administration.

Marielle openly opposed police brutality and extrajudicial killings. She denounced President Temer’s decision to deploy the Army to occupy the city of Rio de Janeiro and other communities in the state. Her resistance to oppression, her resilient and courageous denunciations of policy brutality, and her opposition to the use of force to resolve the poverty and despair of Rio’s poorest communities inspires all of us, but threatens those bent on destruction and violence. 

According to The Guardian, there were 61,600 homicides in Brazil during 2016 and police forces were responsible for 4,200 of these murders. The high levels of violence continued into 2017 and remain a threat to public security everywhere, but particularly among poor and black communities in Brazil.

The Washington Post draws from research from the Instituto Igarapé to report,

“Underpaid and under pressure, police here are also under threat: At least 120 officers were killed in 2017, including many in confrontations with drug traffickers, according to the Rio-based Igarapé Institute. But last year, 1,124 people died at the hands of police, the highest number in a decade, the institute reports. In recent years, nearly 80 percent of those killed by police were black or mixed-race.”

According to friend and founder of the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald,

“Days before her assassination, she went to Acari, a sprawling Rio slum, to protest recent murders by one of the city’s most notoriously violent and lawless police battalions. What makes it difficult to determine exactly who killed Franco was precisely her bravery: she was a threat to so many violent, corrupt, and powerful factions that the list of possible suspects, with motives to want her dead, is a long one.”

According to the Washington Post,

“Her killers have not been caught. But the federal prosecutor’s office in Rio says that the evidence, including the highly professional killing, points to a hit by corrupt police officers. The bullets, authorities say, came from police ammunition stocks. A representative for the civil police would not comment beyond saying the investigation is ongoing.”

We join the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) to call for justice.

“The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) calls upon the Brazilian government to guarantee a swift, fair, and thorough investigation into the killing of Marielle Franco taking into account her political position as Afro-descendant city councillor, feminist and human rights defender, and urges the Brazilian judiciary to make sure both the material perpetrators of this crime as well as those who masterminded it will be held accountable. In addition, LASA calls upon the federal government and Rio City Council to take seriously the concerns expressed by Marielle Franco before she died in regard to the militarized response to crime in the favelas and to reconsider its strategy to provide security for the entire population of Rio.”

Please consider signing the AVAZZ petition,

Quem matou Marielle Franco?

Marielle Presente!

Mark S. Langevin, Ph.D.

Director of the Brazil Initiative

2018 Capstone


Following up on the activities that the ESIA Capstone 2018 team which the Brazil Initiative has been supporting is developing in Brazil, find below some uptades about the group's work at Access Sao Paulo. The group is focused on Community Mapping and Vulnerabilities Pre-Assessment to help assess needs and plan future programming for the organization and the children that Access serves to.

The Capstone team is integrated by candidates Aida, Connor, Blake, and Shannon. They have had several days of activities with the children of "Capao Redondo", a district in the city of Sao Paulo. Access and the Capstone team visited three different pockets of "Capao Redondo" neighborhood -   Jerusalem, Valqueria and Portalina.

The team had 3 separate focus group discussions with the children in each pocket where it could learn about the children's background and about their lives. The team could gain a lot of insights on the context of "Capao Redondo" and discuss some aspects of children lives such as home, school, and how they feel about their community in a positive or negative light. 

Also, for the community mapping exercise, the group distributed digital cameras to the children who attended the focus groups. 

Keep up the great work, ESIA Capstone 2018 team!


Access here the one-pager description of the group's project.

Report-Harvesting Innovation: Brazilian Agriculture in the 21st Century

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            Harvesting Innovation: Brazilian Agriculture in the 21st Century took another step toward understanding the central role of innovation in Brazilian development with a particular focus on agriculture. During the past year the Brazil Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs has gathered scholars, practioners and policymakers to explore, discuss and debate innovation and development in Brazil. Harvesting Innovation featured researchers and farmers dedicated to incorporating science driven innovations to increase productivity, shift toward intensive forms of agriculture and livestock production. The symposium explored these themes as they intersect environmental sustainability and the growing productivity gap between modern Brazilian agriculture and traditional, extensive forms.

Agricultural Modernization

         Maurizio Guadagni, Senior Agricultural Specialist at the World Bank Group  presented an overview of the global food supply and Brazil contribution to food security through impressive gains in Total Factor Productivity (TFP).  Guadagni noted that Brazil still retains the potential for even larger gains in TFP for livestock production. He also reported the central role of the federal government’s agricultural research and extension agency, EMBRAPA, in pushing productivity. Guadagni also noted the positive relationship between agricultural modernization and greenhouse gas reductions, showing the potential for green growth through intensive, science driven agricultural production.

Increasing Productivity and Intensive Agriculture

            Geraldo Martha Jr. Coordinator of EMBRAPA, Labex-USA, provided an historical  examination of the evolution of Brazilian agriculture, reminding attendees that Brazil suffered from low productivity, production, and high food prices before agricultural modernization took root in the late 1970s. He noted that Cotton and Soy led the way, achieving the but largest advances in yields through science based production systems are observed for major crops and beef production. Martha pointed to the critical relationship between modernization and its measureable land savings effect as technology replaced agricultural frontier expansion. He also reported that government supports, measured by OECD’s Producer Support Estimate, played a small role in agriculture, compelling farmers to seek out technology to raise yields and profitability. The result was falling food prices beginning in the 1980s and carrying through into the 21st century. Martha argues that Brazilian agriculture can continue to modernize and achieve ever-higher productivity by intensifying the relationships between knowledge and applied techniques in the field. This effort can be developed through cutting edge gene editing, preventive breeding, digital and big-data  approaches, advanced modeling at all levels, and fostering sustainable systems (with higher input-use efficiency), and thinking through agricultural value chains to maximize efficiency and profitability. For Martha, EMBRAPA plays a critical role in advancing this agenda. Recognizing and mitigating market imperfections along the way is necessary for increasing future positive outcomes. 

            Dan Jenkins, Senior Director for Food and Agriculture at BIO, highlighted some of the challenges Brazil and other tropical countries face in their agricultural sector going forward such as a changing climate, institutionalized bureaucracy not equipped to regulate some of the innovations, and poor infrastructure and logistics. Jenkins emphasized how the application of science and technology can continue to lead and overcome these challenges. However, he notes that it is imperative that farmers buy into the changes; society can only advance if farmers have the education to understand how to use these new technologies and they accept them.

            Both Jenkins and Martha emphasized the need for expanded data collection and analysis to develop and drive the application of innovations. Data can be used to identify, mitigate and overcome challenges and problems, but such big data driven solutions require more investment in information technology and professional development among professionals and farmers. Farmers must be included in the process of technological development and data collection, and be willing to apply solutions identified through big data analysis.

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Science into Practice: Experiences from the Field

            The second panel discussion explored the application of science to farming in Brazil. First, Haroldo Cunha, former President of the Brazilian Cotton Producers Association (ABRAPA) and current President of the Brazilian Cotton Institute (IBA), highlighted how innovations have allowed the cotton sector to reduce land use while boosting production. Cunha demonstrated how no-till technology, biotechnology, and general investment in research and development paved the way for increasing cotton yields in Brazil. Specifically, there has been a 55% reduction of pesticide application and land use has declined from a high of 4,136 million hectares to 935.3 hectares in the same period when production increased tenfold.

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            Dirceu Ferreira, Director of the Center of Expertise in Tropical Agriculture for Bayer-Crop Science, and Henri Colens, European Public Affairs Manager for Braskem, highlighted their organizations’ innovations in the agricultural sector. Ferreira reviewed the global trends in agricultural and put them in the context of the sustainable development goals. He discussed three projects Bayer has with key strategic partners. All three are examples of how Bayer is working to promote best practices in agriculture and create a more open discussion around challenges. Colens examined the biopolymer industry and analyzed how Braskem is working towards decoupling plastic production from fossil fuels. Finally, Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, Head of the Latin American and Caribbean Program at the International Food Policy Research Institute put all of these innovations in tropical agriculture in a global context. He stressed the need for further innovations to address the world's changing diets and the inequality between small farmers and large farmers and highlighted that large farming operations can be met by science-based institutions like EMBRAPA.

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Brazilian Agriculture and Global Challenges    

The Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Shenggen Fan discussed the relationships between Brazilian tropical agriculture and such global challenges as climate change, hidden hunger and food security, changing diets and the onset of obesity. These challenges require responses from the agricultural sector. Life expectancy, for the first time in years, will start to decline because of food related issues. In the coming years, Brazil will continue to lead the way in tropical agricultural innovations and is positioned to play a key role in solving many of these global problems.

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            Presenters and participants agreed that greater efforts are needed to understand how science and technology innovations can be applied to overcome agricultural challenges to achieve greater yields, meet the need for food security, and deepen environmental sustainability.


Download Presentations Here:

Dirceu Ferreira

Maurizio Guadagni

Geraldo Martha Jr.

Haroldo Cunha

Henri Colens

Shenggen Fan

When the mega-dam breaks: shaping the future of environmental licensing in Brazil

If the problems and potential of environmental licensing are not taken seriously in this year’s policy debates and electoral campaigns, future development and economic recovery could trigger environmental degradation far more serious than any single mega-dam project, write Mark S. Langevin and Olivia Smith (both George Washington University).

Read the full article at the London School of Economics and Political Science-Latin America Blog here.