Over 140 prisoners have been killed in 6 different prison riots in Brazil during the last 4 months. This is not the first time that violence has called attention to the deplorable conditions of Brazil’s prisons on a global scale. While this particular wave of riots has its root in a recent fallout between two drug gangs, they are indications of far deeper structural problems within Brazil’s prison system itself, which have been present for decades.
On Wednesday in response to a UN vote denouncing the embargo placed on Cuba by Congress the US abstained for the first time in 25 years. While this is a small nod by the US in recognition of the futility of the embargo, Congress is still opposed to lifting trade constraints until Cuba does more to improve human rights (Borger 2016).