Brazil: Amazon burns, Democracy dies

29 August 2019 18:42

Source: Turquesa News

Since the beginning of his government last January, Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has verbally assaulted environmentalists, social activists, trade unionists and left-wing activists. At the same time, he deplores the human rights, labour rights, property rights of indigenous peoples and encourages, through warmongering rhetoric, the invasion of indigenous lands and deforestation of the Amazon.  

His Minister of Envrionment, Ricardo Salles, is aligned with big farmers business and as consequence, the inspection and control agencies have been depleted and their resources diminished. In June, a renowned scientist was fired because he warned the government about the growth of deforestation detected by satellites.

In early August, Bolsonaro turned his back on the Norwegian and German millionaire cooperation for the "Amazon Fund", which was addressed to support actions to combat illegal logging and wildfires.

In addition, Bolsonaro is putting the blame on the wildfires to environmentalists by accusing them of "being behind the wildfires as a means of protesting the cut of international cooperation".  He fails to recognize that the real culprit is his mis-guided policies and refusal to stop the wildfires. 

According to one of BWI’s affiliate in Brazil, CONTICOM President Claudio da Silva Gomes, "The killing of rural trade unionists by rural farmers has also increased since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government.  These are the same people behind the increase of wildfires and growth of illegal logging. There are connections between these actions and the fact that the slave labour enforcement forces used against illegal logging have been disabled or unable to carry out their job". 

He continued: "The weakening of trade unions in the North region is also a factor in the increase of illegal deforestation and burning.  Bolsonaro is promoting policies to banish trade unions; however, we will continue our struggle in strengthening trade union power to not only address the wildfires but fight back against Bolsonaro".

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers’ International, called upon on all BWI affiliates to undertake any and all necessary action to stop the deforestation in the Amazon.  He stated: "The lungs of the world are on fire, and those who are responsible instead of using their breath to bicker they should use it to find concrete solutions".