Global Briefs: Peru’s blueberry revolution
South American country has been the world’s top blueberry exporter for four years
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Blueberry exports topped $1.36 billion in 2022, making Peru the world’s top exporter for four consecutive years, according to a report released last month. Peru is the second-largest blueberry producer, behind the United States. While the South American heat and soil are not conducive to growing the fruit, Peruvian farmers seized a lucrative opportunity 10 years ago by developing new varieties and farming techniques. Peru harvests between September and November, after North America in August and before Chile in December. It exports about 270,000 tons per year at roughly $5 per kilogram. —Joyce Wu
Local authorities deliberately delayed the burial of an evangelical pastor for two weeks after he suffered a medical emergency while in prison for his faith. Pastor Tesfay Seyoum, who founded the Meserete Kristos Church, died on April 9 after spending 10 years in Mai Serwa prison near the capital of Asmara. Authorities had transferred him to a hospital after he suffered a brain hemorrhage two months earlier. Local officials denied his family the permit needed for his burial site due to his faith, even though Eritrean culture requires quick burials. On April 22, local officials finally allowed Seyoum’s family to bury him at the St. Teklehaimanot cemetery, north of Asmara. Eritrea ranks as the fourth-most difficult country for Christians to live in, according to Open Doors. In 2002, Eritrea closed all churches not affiliated with Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Christian traditions, including the church founded by Seyoum. —Onize Ohikere
A member of Parliament is accusing French mission schools in the North African nation of acting against Islamic values. On April 7, Hanane Atarguine of the Authenticity and Modernity Party pressed Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita for government solutions to the problem. Parents whose children attend a French school in Kenitra first raised concerns in December after learning a teacher encouraged a class of 7- to 9-year-olds to accept same-sex relationships. Several parents sued the school in February. Morocco’s population is about 99 percent Muslim, and homosexuality is illegal. The Agency for French Education Abroad suspended the teacher, but Atarguine wants official measures to ensure schools respect “religious and national constants.” —Elizabeth Russell
On April 24, the government exhumed and moved the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera in an effort to stop the glorification of Spain’s fascist past. In 1933, Primo de Rivera founded the nationalist Falange party that became an integral part of Francisco Franco’s brutal dictatorship. Primo de Rivera’s body was previously buried in an elaborate basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, a deeply divisive symbol in the country. Franco’s remains also lay there until 2019. Franco’s fascist regime persecuted and executed evangelical and mainstream Protestants, along with intellectuals and ethnic minorities. Primo de Rivera’s remains were reburied in a family grave in Madrid. —Jenny Lind Schmitt
The legacy of world-famous soccer player Pelé continues in an unexpected place: the dictionary. The Portuguese-language Michaelis dictionary, popular in Brazil, added pelé as a new adjective meaning “exceptional, incomparable, unique.” The dictionary’s publishers made the change on April 26 after a campaign by the charitable Pelé Foundation gathered over 125,000 signatures. Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died in December at the age of 82. He was the only soccer player to gain three World Cup victories, all while playing for his native Brazil, and he popularized soccer as “the beautiful game.” —Elizabeth Russell
Yasmeen Lari, who is considered Pakistan’s first female architect, won this year’s Royal Gold Medal, an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects that is personally approved by the British monarch. The institute named Lari the recipient on April 27, acknowledging designs that allow Pakistanis afflicted by natural disasters and conflicts to build using available resources. Her work includes self-build models for shelters that use readily available bamboo; Chulah Cookstoves, a low-cost smokeless alternative to the traditional Pakistani stove; and a system that allows 100 emergency shelters to be built in four days. Lari has focused on humanitarian designs following her retirement in 2000. Born in Pakistan in 1941, she studied architecture in England. —Joyce Wu