Amazon on fire: the consequences of a far right government in Brazil

Pope Francis announced on October 15, 2017 that he would turn the Church’s attention to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, as well as the destruction and exploitation of their environment. With this, the seed of the Synod for the Amazon (Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region) was sown. This synod will take place from October 6 to 27, 2019, when the bishops will meet in Rome to discuss the relevant issues. The theme of the Synod will be: “Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”, and the impact of economic interest on the forest and indigenous lands will be discussed. With recent events, this synod, or meeting of bishops convened by the Pope, has gained enormous importance and is yet another strong voice against the anti-environmental policy implemented by the government of the PSL (Bolsonaro).

On June 1, 2017, Donald Trump decides to take the United States out of the Paris Agreement, which deals with global climate change, and was signed in 2015. Trump’s claim was that the agreement was unfavorable to the US economy and, therefore for the people of that country. (https://www.bbc.com/english/internacional-40114352)

Bolsonaro, already during his candidacy in 2018, threatens to leave the Paris Agreement, following in the footsteps of his master and lord, Donald Trump. Already in government, he reiterates that he will come out of such a deal, probably wanting to follow Trump and Steve Bannon. However, he himself denies that he would remain in the agreement as long as there was no “Triple A project” (proposal to maintain protected lands from the Andes to the Atlantic through the Amazon and which Bolsonaro considers an international conspiracy) nor independence from indigenous lands, and that this was guaranteed “in writing”. (https://amazoniareal.com.br/bolsonaro-e-o-acord-de-paris-2-declaracoes-contraditorias/)

SOS Amazônia, on January 31, 2019, states: “The Bolsonaro government is the maximum representation of barbarism that 519 years ago tries to expel indigenous peoples from their original lands through a policy of extermination now institutionalized by the state.” Still On the same date, it points to the already beginning to increase land invasions and Bolsonaro’s objective of bending to the interests of capital and, above all, agribusiness. (http://www.sosamazonia.org.br/conteudo/2019/01/31/sangue-indigena-no-gota-a-mais/). In February of that same year, SOS criticized Bolsonaro again, pointing to the danger of the extreme right in governments, especially in strategic countries.

On April 9, 2019, Greenpeace assesses the 100 days of the Bolsonaro government and states that it has chosen the environmental agenda as the enemy, promoted a number of setbacks and has the support of the ruralists. It also points out the frustrated objective, due to the negative repercussion, of ending the Ministry of the Environment. As this did not become viable, he placed in such ministry Ricardo Salles, convicted in the first instance for “fraud in the elaboration of a management plan in an Environmental Protection Area in favor of mining companies.” Salles, in agreement with Bolsonaro worked to implement a series of measures, from cretuses and mischiefs, to gradually obliterate all the importance of the Ministry, as well as the authority of its officials. Bolsonaro, Greenpeace says, has also made promises and measures that have endangered the Amazon, favoring deforestation, threatening indigenous lands and favoring mining, ranching and invaders. Greenpeace also cites poisoning by releasing various types of pesticides that were previously not allowed under other governments, as well as the strong desire to hand over the Amazon to Donald Trump. (https://www.greenpeace.org/bras//blog/retrocessos-ambientais-marcam-os-100-dias-do-governo-bolsonaro/))

Greenpeace will again take stock of the Bolsonaro government when it has completed 6 months of government. He again points to the same problems as before, with the addition that his policies threaten the global climate and undermine Brazil’s image abroad (https://www.greenpeace.org/brasil/blog/seis-meses-de- bolsonaro-attacks-on-the-environment-hit-the-economy /).

In May of that same year, WWF Brazil condemned the proposal to use the Amazon Fund for land expropriation, as there is a specific amount for this purpose and this would make forest conservation measures unfeasible. In addition, the NGO warns of the possible increase in deforestation due to this and other governmental measures. (https://g1.globo.com/politica/noticia/2019/05/25/governo-estuda-use-fund-amazonia-to-indemnize-of-earth-appropriations.ghtml)

On June 13, 2019, the Brazilian Executive Commander advocated the regularization of mining in Brazil, including the northeast region of the Amazon. (https://jornaldebrasilia.com.br/brasil/bolsonaro-por-que-na-podemos-legalize-o-garimpo-no-nosso-pais/)

In a quick search on the ISA (Instituto Socioambiental) website, we found a series of articles that criticize the current Brazilian government. On August 2, 2019, for example, ISA strongly criticizes Bolsonaro’s “predatory policies”, especially in relation to indigenous peoples, INPE, and Amazon deforestation. (https://www.socioambiental.org/en-us/noticias-socioambientais/politicas-predatorias-isolam-bolsonaro)

INPE, the National Institute for Space Research, is criticized by Bolsonaro (July 19, 2019), as well as its director and researchers, for disclosing scientifically substantiated data on deforestation that, according to Bolsonaro, “undermines the name of Brazil” . He further stated, without any proof, that the data disclosed was false. (https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/ambiente/2019/07/bolsonaro-critica-director-do-inpe-por-data-about-deforestation-what-prejudicam-name-do-brasil.shtml ) On August 2, the resignation of Inpe chief Ricardo Galvão is announced, a resignation criticized even by Douglas Morton, director of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Space Flight Center. (https://www.bbc.com/english/brasil-49256294)

In August 2019, news of the Amazon fires, as well as deforestation, began to flow. On 23 August, Emmanuel Macron, president of France, calls Bolsonaro a liar and states that France will exit the agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. Macron’s critique is supported by leaders from Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, as well as the support of various personalities around the world. Bolsonaro, with this, is cornered and on August 24 makes a national statement announcing measures on the subject. Panellos are heard all over Brazil against Bolsonaro, and protests are held in Brazil and around the world against Bolsonaro and its devastating policy for the Amazon.

In a speech on August 22, Claudio Almeida, coordinator of the Amazon Program of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and also senior technologist in monitoring the Amazon Forest, confirmed the huge growth of Amazon deforestation, responsible for the fall of the Amazon. Inpe chief. Inpe, through DETER (Real Time Deforestation Detection), found a deforestation peak of 9,000 alerts in July, 92% of which were confirmed, together with EMBRAPA, which found that 60% of deforested areas are being used for livestock (low quality pasture area) Large-scale agriculture occupies 6.5% of the deforested area. (http://midianinja.org/news/60-da-area-deforested- went-to-pasture-says-coordinator-program-amazon-do-inpe /? fbclid = IwAR1oNidOAPcY98p9Y8dlplfKNOfVdMS_tHMvVKbwL4HnGfdB93rU5H9lAv8)

Amazon deforestation reaches an alarming point. DETER (Inpe) announced a deforestation growth of 278% compared to last July. The growth of June was already huge, 90%, but July extrapolated everything that could be thought about the Amazon. (https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/ambiente/2019/08/desmatamento-na-amazonia-em-julho-gresce-278-em-relacoo-ao-mesmo-mes-em-2018.shtml ).

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirms Inpe data and states that 2019 is the worst year since 2010 in relation to burning, adding that terrifying fires are directly related to deforestation, much more than regional drought. . Interesting also is the finding by the US agency that fires in the Brazilian states of Pará and Amazonas are concentrated in lanes along the BR-163 and BR-230 highways (https://g1.globo.com/natureza/ noticia / 2019/08/23 / nasa-says-that-2019-and the worst-year-of-burning-in-the-amazon-brazilian-since-2010.ghtml).

To try to dispel the lies created around the issue, the NGO Akatu, not to mention Bolsonaro, the main responsible for the false news, tries to clarify what is myth and what is true. It states that the following statements are true: burnings increased in 2019 from 2018; deforestation is the main cause of burning; Brazil is the most deforested country on the planet. As a myth, it classifies the following: the most recent burns are caused by drought; Brazil is the most forested country in the world (this post is from Russia); Brazil does not have enough area to produce food; the country will need to clear more in the future to produce more food; Preserved areas hinder the development of the country. (https://www.akatu.org.br/noticia/queimadas-na-amazonia-mitos-e-verdades/)

Many of these myths, lies, fake news were produced and disseminated by the Bolsonaro government itself, especially by itself. His speech, and those of his team, clear and burn the forest of truth to plant in the fertilized soil of their supporters’ minds the seeds of quarrel and lies. Its measures, regarding the environmental issue, are always harmful to the preservation, to the original peoples, to the environment, in short, to everything that anyone who defends ecology and sustainability can accept. Bolsonaro’s tactic is the tactic of war, conflict, lies, so it is no more normal for your entire government to attack those who defend the Amazon, including the President of France and other world leaders, in the most vulgar way possible.

Capitalism, as I said in another article, has a difficult coexistence with sustainability and the environment (https://medium.com/@alexandresilva_94761/anti-ind%C3%BAstria-7a303abf0a83). In this same article, I make suggestions for humanity to walk in a more sustainable way. However, the current Brazilian government is not interested in this, it governs in the sense of meeting the interests of international (US) and national capital. Food produced by Brazil is being poisoned (290 substances authorized only until July 2019). Hormones (natural and exogenous) are found in the Brazilian market, despite the legal prohibition of use for growth, in the case of exogenous. Therefore, we do not know to what extent these hormones are being used or will be used, as the problem of Amazonian fires reveals how the Brazilian government is interested in defending farmers and, especially, how this defense is made. The Amazon also wants a truly democratic government.

The best action for preserving the Amazon, as well as the quality of our food, would be to remove Bolsonaro from power. But it would be no good if this withdrawal were a simple exchange for someone who had the same goals and the same training as him. Brazil needs to return to the democratic condition, as this is the only way we can address the important issues about the environment and human and minority rights, as, like the Amazon, human rights are being burned and the vulnerable population is being burned. wiped out.

Alexandre Lessa da Silva

Ex-professor de diversas universidades públicas e particulares. Lecionou na Universidade Federal Fluminense e na Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.