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In Case You Missed It: Diego Luna’s Getting Love, Oprah’s Race Issue, Brazil’s Corruption And More

In today’s world, the news happens so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest, breaking developments. Here are five quick headlines to keep you up on the stories that might have gotten lost in the shuffle this week.

Dreamboat Diego Luna was selected to join the cast of “Berlin, I Love You.”

FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL / FLICKR

Diego Luna’s career continues to get tons of love. The 37-year-old actor was tapped to join the all-star cast of “Berlin, I Love You.” The release date for the film, which is currently in pre-production, has not yet been announced, but several cast members have been announced, including Jared Leto, Orlando Bloom, and Gemma Arterton. For fans who can’t wait to see Luna on the big screen, he will star alongside Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev in the remake of “Flatliners” this fall.

[More] The Hollywood Reporter: Cannes: Diego Luna, Orlando Bloom Joining ‘Berlin, I Love You’ (Exclusive)

Brazilian President Michel Temer implicated in a bribery scandal.

Michel Temer / FLICKR

It’s as if Brazil’s President looked at the scandals affecting politicians in the U.S. and said, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” As The Guardian reported, recordings of President Temer allegedly “discussing hush money pay-offs to a jailed associate” have lead to calls for his impeachment and investigations into the alleged corruption running rampant in his administration. Several officials from his administration have resigned already. While Temer’s approval ratings have sunk to the single digits, he has said he will not resign.

[More] The Guardian: Brazil: explosive recordings implicate President Michel Temer in bribery

Undocumented Guatemalan immigrant calls 911 to have himself deported.

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Cesar Sanchez is currently in jail on $2,000 bond after calling 911 in Florida to have himself deported. When the operator asked what the emergency was, Sanchez, “It’s not an emergency, I just want to be deported.” He was charged with misusing 911, which is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. He is expected to be handed over by local law enforcement to ICE.

[More] Associated Press: Guatemalan Man Calls 911 and Asks to Be Deported

FUERZAFest’s “Still Here” exhibit examines the “history of erasure” within the Latinx LBGTQI community

FUERZAfest.Com

New York’s FUERZAfest’s “Still Here” exhibition honors members of the Latinx LGBTQI community who have been dismissed or ignored from the larger conversation of equal rights. It also challenges the norm that these voices are somehow less important within the community. The “Still Here” exhibit runs through May 21st. For more information, check out their website here.

[More] OUT: Still Here: Exploring the Erasure of Latinx LGBTQ Identities in Art

Oprah Magazine’s May 2017 photo essay, “Let’s Talk About Race” wonderfully addresses stereotypes and society.


A white child trying to find a white doll. Asian women getting pedicures from white beauticians. A white maid waiting on a rich Latina. These are just a few of the images presented in O, The Oprah Magazine’s May 2017 issue. The “Let’s Talk About Race” photo essay “grew out of a big ideas meeting we had with Oprah,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief Lucy Kaylin told the Huffington Post. Kaylin added, “The main thing we wanted to do was deal with the elephant in the room — that race is a thorny issue in our culture, and tensions are on the rise.” Check out the full spread at the Huff Po.

[More] Huffington Post: These Profound Photos Masterfully Turn Racial Stereotypes On Their Head

READ: Latino Man Held At ICE Detention Center Appears To Have Committed Suicide After Being In Isolation For 19 Days

Water Pollution In This Guatemalan Town Dropped 90 Percent After The Town Banned All Plastic

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Water Pollution In This Guatemalan Town Dropped 90 Percent After The Town Banned All Plastic

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The residents of San Pedro La Laguna have witnessed their town’s lake go from a garbage dump to its original pristine alpine condition within just three years. Why? In 2016, the entire town and its municipal government took on a monumental task: no new plastic would enter the town. Three years later, Lake Atitlán is clean, and plastic waste in the lake has reduced by 90 percent. It took all 10,000 residents of the town to fully commit to completely eliminating their use of plastic in order to revitalize Lake Atitlán, but it was worth it.

“Quitting plastic has not been an easy task,” resident Taira told Naturaleza Gurú, “but you just have to get used to it. We wrap the food in large banana leaves, store the bread in cloth napkins and use wicker baskets or woven palm bags to take purchases home.”

The town unequivocally banned straws, plastic bags, and styrofoam from entering its borders.

Credit: the.yogi.nomadic / Instagram

“There are three products that may not seem significant,” San Pedro’s Mayor Mauricio Mendez said last year. “But when we start to see rivers and lakes polluted with these products, we realize that they are a very important key to create change on this planet.” The town swiftly put up a banner at the entrance of the town that announced Municipal Code 111-2016: “No uso bólsas plásticas, pajillas y duroport.” San Pedro does not use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam.

Instead of plastic, the town has been using banana leaves or maxán leaves, which are traditionally used for tamales. to store their food.

Credit: DW Español / YouTube

When the town passed the ordinance, it received a lot of pushback. Rolando Paiz, Guatemala’s Plastic Commission’s President, told DW that plastic is “one of the noblest materials that humans invented,” and that San Pedro simply needed infrastructure to properly store garbage. Paiz appealed the ordinance to no avail. Three years later, the town has proved itself right.

The initiative has brought the town back to its traditional ways, bringing back childhood memories for many.

Credit: chrisraven_ / Instagram

Bakery owner Graciela Batz said that the return to traditional cloth and paper bags are bringing back memories from when she was a little girl. Another resident said that the mayor’s initiative is a real opportunity for the town to save its lake. “We always invoke the thought of revolution,” Mayor Mendez said, “The revolution is not about weapons. It is to make structural changes in each of our lives to create change.”

Lake Atitlán is a major tourist attraction for the town.

Credit: mochiladeliz / Instagram

While the town is more than 90 percent made up of indigenous Tz’utujil Mayans, there is a growing expatriate community of Americans and Europeans. That may be because Lake Atitlán is a major source of revenue for the town, drawing in hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world each year. The lake rests at 9,905 feet in elevation and sits beneath Volcan San Pedro. Tourists enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling in the lake, which was becoming increasingly littered with trash. The community not only saved its economy, but it saved an entire body of water from dying.

Residents volunteered their time to take canoes out to the lake, and collect trash.

Credit: matiamubysofia / Instagram

Collectively, they would remove nearly 700 pounds of trash from the lake, each day. It was a last resort after protesters demanded the government clean up the lake. In July 2015, #AtitlánSano went viral on social media, but the government did nothing. The indigenous communities had to take it upon themselves to save the lake, which was experiencing explosive blooms of cyanobacteria, making the lake water toxic for human consumption. 

Atitlán has become the center of debate in Guatemala’s growing demand for water rights and an end to environmental racism.

Credit: true_nature_travels / Instagram

As massive international farms begin to operate in the country, rivers have been diverted, and waste management has not prioritized for indigenous communities.

“If this lake was in [the mainly white department of] Zacapa, we would have a lot of money, it would be privatized and the government would pay much more attention,” expert Juan Skinner told Truthout. “But because the lake basin is in an Indigenous stronghold, it suffers from the same exclusion that all Indigenous lands suffer from within the country. This is a tourist mecca, an incredible natural wonder, it is still abandoned and excluded because the majority is Indigenous. Because this is a racist country.”

San Pedro residents have become a shining example of the organizing strength of indigenous communities, in the face of a government that continues to divert funds to white communities over indigenous communities.

READ: The United Nations Gave Costa Rica The Highest Award Possible For Their Work Saving The Environment

A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

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A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

Henry Milleo / AP Images

A judge ordered the release of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula, from prison today. Lula was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison in 2018, following a conviction on charges that he took bribes from engineering firms in exchange for government contracts. However, many Brazilians and officials felt Lula’s conviction was the result of corruption. 

The decision came after Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned a law that required convicts to be imprisoned if they lose their first appeal. The ruling could end up benefiting other high profile prisoners and thousands of other convicts, according to Al Jazeera, and was not met without detractors. 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is freed from prison.

On Thursday, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided in a 6-5 vote that a person can only be imprisoned after they’ve exhausted every possible appeal to the higher courts. Lula, who is currently appealing his case, benefited from the new rule. 

“There are no grounds for the continuation of this provisional criminal enforcement,” Judge Danilo Pereira Júnior said.

The ruling could release almost 5,000 inmates who are currently appealing their convictions, according to The Guardian. 

In 2016, the courts operated on the premise that defendants who have been convicted can be imprisoned pending the decisions of any appeals. However, Brazil’s constitution states that no one can be labeled guilty unless due process is completed in its entirety. 

Justice Gilmar Mendes acknowledged that Lula’s involvement in the discourse overshadowed the discussion, but that overall it is good for the public, according to the Guardian. However, analysts say that incarcerating people before they have appealed gives authorities leverage to strike plea deals that can garner vital information. 

Many analysts are criticizing the new rule. 

The “Car Wash” operation, as it is nicknamed, that got Lula arrested, benefited from the rule. By trading plea deals that would keep convicts out of prison, prosecutors obtained information that allowed them to unravel a massive conspiracy of corruption that resulted in entrepreneurs and politicians being imprisoned for bribes and kickbacks. 

According to Al Jazeera, “The Car Wash prosecutors said the ruling would make their job harder and favor impunity because of Brazil’s ‘excessive’ appeal processes. They said in a statement that the court’s decision was out of sync with a country that wants an end to corruption.”

Not only are officials displeased with Lula’s release, but some Brazilians are also angry as well. 

“I’m not surprised, politicians rarely stay very long in jail,” Rivaldo Santos, a 43-year-old waiter in São Paulo, told The Associated Press. 

Brazilians rally in support of Lula’s release. 

Lula was a once-beloved conduit of change. The Bolsa Familia welfare program significantly reduced poverty in Brazil, and his policies created widespread economic growth. Lula left the office with an 80% approval rating, only to have his legacy tarnished by his involvement in the Car Wash operation. 

In a turning point over the summer, Brazilians were left stunned by allegations that prosecutors and a judge colluded together in the criminal investigation of Lula. Sergio Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, allegedly gave prosecutors strategic advice and tips during the investigation. 

“The judge’s relationship with prosecutors is scandalous,” the Intercept Brasil’s executive editor, Leandro Demori, told The Guardian. “This is illegal under Brazilian law.”

The revelations caused many to wonder if Lula had been wrongfully imprisoned altogether. Last year, Lula was the left-leaning presidential frontrunner only to have his imprisonment pave the way for the far-right Jair Bolsonaro to snag the presidency. Thus, many Brazilians still revere Lula for the sweeping changes he brought to Brazil while wondering all that could have been.

“He is very happy and so are we,” Gilberto Carvalho, Lula’s former chief of staff and one of the leaders of the Workers Party, told The Washington Post. “We are pinching ourselves to make sure this is all true.”

Bernie Sanders and others praise the release of Lula.

“As President, Lula has done more than anyone to lower poverty in Brazil and to stand up for workers. I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.  

“Lula is free. He walked out of Sergio Moro’s prison today, where he spent almost 2 years as a result of corrupted process conducted by a corrupt judge (now Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice and Public Security) and corrupt prosecutors,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter. 

While Brazil was set on an entirely different course after Bolsonaro’s election, perhaps, Lula’s release can usher in needed change.

“[Lula] is eager to come out, but at the same time he is asking everyone to stay calm and be careful with provocations to keep an atmosphere of peace,” Carvalho said.