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The Amazon is burning Posted by on Aug 31, 2019 in Brazilian News, Economy, Geography, Politics

Boa noite, leitores. Good evening, readers. In recent weeks, Brazil has been catching the eyes of the international media, but unfortunately for no praiseworthy reasons this time. Quite the contrary, Brazil made headlines for its neglect of the meio-ambiente (environment) that resulted in the incêndio criminoso (criminal fire) of the Amazon rainforest, the largest of its kind in the world. As if the environmental crisis was not enough, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro found himself in a diplomatic crisis with French President Emmanuel Macron over preserving the Amazon. If you want to know a little more about this sad event that is shaking Brazil and the world, this is the right place. Let’s go over the strange paths that the Brazilian governo (government) has been taking in relation to the environment.

fogo, queimadas

Fogo (Photo by I, MarcusObal [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

With over 5 million square kilometers, the floresta amazônica (Amazon rainforest) has always attracted latifundiários (landowners) who wanted to expand their fazendas (farms) and production of gado (livestock) and soja (soybeans). President Jair Bolsonaro was well aware of that. Even before taking over the main public office in the Brazilian government, he foresaw the merger of the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Agriculture, stating that the over bureaucratization for the desmatamento (deforestation) of environmentally protected areas or indigenous reserves represented a hindrance to our nation’s economic growth. However, this measure did not move forward because the conflict of interest was evident between the preservation of the environment and the expansion of agriculture.

Upset, the leader kept the Ministry of Environment but placed it under the rule of Ricardo Salles, who, in that same week of the appointment, happened to be charged with environmental fraud intended to benefit private interests. From the beginning of their mandatos (terms of office), Salles and Bolsonaro blatantly criticized the leading science institute that measures deforestation and fires, disqualifying the results of long-term pesquisa (research) by renowned Brazilian scientists. Without any concrete evidence, Bolsonaro accused the president of the research institute of being at the service of international NGOs after he released public materials indicating deforestation growth over previous years on the government’s website. Bolsonaro eventually demitiu (fired) the president of the institute because the results of the polls differed from what he expected.

The dismantling of environmental prevention and protection resources, however, does not end there. From the outset of the Bolsonaro government, there have been significant cortes (cuts) in the most diverse sectors of the public machine, which inevitably affected the institutes that oversee the environment. The result was a cut in almost a quarter of the orçamento (budget) for responsible organs and a drastic reduction in the number of people working in the sector. The forest is now even more unprotected than ever.

Apparently, the fires were actually organized in a whatsapp group of by farmers from the most diverse border regions of the Amazon rainforest. Despite that, the president once more claimed that the NGOs were responsible for the crime, naturally with no evidence. The “day of the fire,” as the alleged farmers named the date for the queimadas (burnings), were reported by a local newspaper days before the fire, when the federal forest inspection department also requested assistance from the national guard to protect the area. Unfortunately the request had no response from the federal government. Only after international repercussion did Jair Bolsonaro and Ricardo Salles admitted that the forest was really pegando fogo (on fire). What about you, have been keeping up with the notícias (news) about the environmental crisis that Brazil is currently undergoing? Let us know!

Boa semana! Good week!

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