Bolsonaro, the candidate to Brazilian presidency, is a threat to the Amazon

Bolsonaro is ahead in the polls for the elections on this Sunday, 28th.  Due to the many fascist statements  Bolsonaro has made, his proposals for the environment have been nearly forgotten in the political debate. However, they represent a threat not only to the Brazilian society but the globe.

Above: Delimitating indigenous land is essential to protect the Amazonian Forest. Statistics and satellite pictures show that where there is indigenous communities, the forest remains intact, while an empty land or a land available to the market is more easily destroyed. On the other hand, when the Amazon is endangered, so is the people who live in it. Bolsonaro wants to weaken the state institutions that protect the Amazon.

He calls environmental concerns as “Shia environmental activism” (sic). And he says he will “end any type of activism” and “imprison everyone who does not agree with his government”. His promise is to consider social movements as equivalent to terrorism. At the international level, he promised to withdraw of the Paris Agreement and also get out of the UN.

Gender: Indigenous women are even more vulnerable when their territory is under attack. We had the opportunity to hear some of the stories from a local leader and we are confident that supporting this people is the right way to fight gender inequalities. Bolsonaro´s proposals are a step backwards.  Photo: Gabriel Uchida

At a local level, he promised to “end this industry of creating indigenous peoples’ land” (sic). He is referring to the fact that in Brazil, Protection Reserves and Indigenous Territories are land owned by the State which have a legal status that prevents agribusiness and mining exploitation. There is a long process to delimitate this land. Indigenous leaders and activists have struggled and still do to guarantee these delimitations and his proposal is to extinguish the delimitations done so far and not delimitate anymore. The reality is that Indigenous Territories are the most effective barrier against the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon.

The problem is not only his promises but the effect that his discourse is already having in practice. The deforestation rate in Amazon grew 36% only during the election period, and the violence against activists has escalated. His discourse legitimizes violent acts and deforestation as people think that the law in place is outdated, and therefore need not to be respected.

Above: Our partners in Brazil work in the process of delimitating Indigenous Territories (Terras Indigenas) and protecting it from invaders. We saw with our own eyes: this video shows the area around an Indigenous Territory completely deforested (for cattle raising), while the Territory shows an majestic forest. Bolsonaro wants to extinguish such Territories and allow these lands to be exploited by mining and agribusiness.

His position about cultural diversity is also alarming: he says that what the indigenous person “really wants” is to be “integrated into society” and that “minorities should disappear”. Considering that Brazil has at least 255 different ethnic indigenous groups, more than 100 isolated or uncontacted groups, and at least 180 different languages, his statement is an institutionalisation of genocide.

Brazil has an incredible ethnodiversity: at least 255 different indigenous ethnicities, more than 100 isolated groups and at least 180 different languages. Protecting their territory is the only way to preserve this diversity. Bolsonaro proposes an integrational approach and says the minorities should disappear.

Amazon has 20% of its area deforested. It is close to the turning point when the forest loses its equilibrium and becomes unsustainable for its fauna and flora. His proposals for the government include extinguishing the Ministry for Environmental Protection and the inspections agencies (IBAMA, CONAMA, ICMBio and FUNAI), and one of his future Minister says that “one cannot cut a tree in peace in this country anymore”.

Bolsonaro is a threat to human rights and democracy, and if defending the environment within the rule of law is hard, it will be nearly impossible in a fascist government. The Amazon is not safe if Bolsonaro is elected, nor is the people who live in it.

Rebeca Borges, program officer at Jordens Vänner

*Note: the names and places are not identified for security reasons.

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