NEWS

"If another 5% of the Amazon is destroyed, an irreversible savanization process will occur"


What happens in the Amazon happens “to Brazil”? Who lit the fires that threaten to transform us into a desert? What narratives fed them? Which ones push us to fight to turn them off? What sustains the indifference of millions and the cynicism of false options? What is a world like without the Amazon? What is left of us without her?

We said that the fire in the Amazon is the mirror where humanity observes in astonishment the horror it has become.

Retracing this path is not easy, but there are millions around the world walking at night to find day. To the despair of the native peoples who mourn the destruction of the forest of which they are part, and which also despairs us, we add questions and the will to unite one path with another so that everything is different. The light of the Amazonian fire also shines, and in these paths we discover the imperative need to achieve a regional look at the challenges that the peoples of our plundered America face. That is why we are also meeting with those who walk other lands and speak the same thing even if they sound different: in Portuñol we talked with Leonardo Melgarejo from Brazil, and we understood each other as a barbarian.

Huerquen: Leonardo, how would you like to introduce yourself? What do you do and what spaces do you participate in?

I am Leonardo Melgarejo, agronomist engineer, MSc in Rural Economy and Dr in Production Engineering. I am a founding member of the Citizen Science Movement and UCCSNAL (Union of Scientists Committed to Society and Nature of Latin America), collaborator of the Permanent Campaign against Agrotoxins and for Life. Currently, regional vice president of the south of the Brazilian Association of Agroecology and Deputy Coordinator of the Gaúcho Forum to Combat Pesticides. I was a representative of the Ministry of Agrarian Development (extinguished after the 2016 coup) in the National Technical Commission for Biosafety (CTNBIO) for 6 years.

Hqn: What happened and what is happening now in the Amazon?

LM: Deforestation and burning rates have grown alarmingly. This is in response to signals from the federal government; For example, consider the following measures by President Bolsonaro: He tries to extinguish the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), explore minerals on indigenous lands, and pass the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA). Transfer of the Brazilian Forest Service from MMA to MAPA. Cut 50% of PREVFOGO's budget; It does not take into account the alerts from the surveillance system that report where the fires are and cuts 187 million reais from the MMA. Reduces environmental evaluations by 34%.

Along with this Bolsonaro has declared things like “Let entrepreneurs work“, “the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) is an industry of fines“, “Environmental protection hinders“, “every indigenous reservation has riches under it. We have to end this”; “There is only one Brazilian people, not an inch more for the indigenous”; “Environmental discourse is a way of introducing communism"Or"global warming is a Marxist invention”.

Deforestation in June 2019 grew by 88% compared to June 2018; And in July 2019, deforestation grew 278% compared to July 2018.

Germany and Norway suspended contributions to the Amazon Fund (3.4 billion reais) and Bolsonaro declared that “Brazil doesn't need this money“, “Brazil has a lot to teach the world about environmental issues", And that would be better than"France help reforest Germanyto".

The Federal Police reported that the cattle ranchers were programming "Fire Day" for August 10, but the government did not take measures, and the catastrophe that we know and worries the world occurred, with smoke covering the sky to the south of Latin America .

It is a true ecocide, which will have an impact on the future of Brazil, with real damage to the planet.

Hqn: Why is the Amazon so important to everyone, inside and outside Brazil?

What happens in the Amazon happens “to Brazil”? Who lit the fires that threaten to transform us into a desert? What narratives fed them? Which ones push us to fight to turn them off? What sustains the indifference of millions and the cynicism of false options? What is a world like without the Amazon? What is left of us without her?

We said that the fire in the Amazon is the mirror where humanity observes in astonishment the horror it has become.

Retracing this path is not easy, but there are millions all over the world walking the night to find the day. We have to end this”; “There is only one Brazilian people, not an inch more for the indigenous”; “Environmental discourse is a way of introducing communism"Or"global warming is a Marxist invention”.

Deforestation in June 2019 grew by 88% compared to June 2018; And in July 2019, deforestation grew 278% compared to July 2018.

Germany and Norway suspended contributions to the Amazon Fund (3.4 billion reais) and Bolsonaro declared that “Brazil doesn't need this money“, “Brazil has a lot to teach the world about environmental issues", And that would be better than"France help reforest Germanyto".

The Federal Police reported that the cattle ranchers were scheduling “Fire Day” for August 10, but the government did not take action, and the catastrophe that we know and worries the world occurred, with smoke covering the sky as far as southern Latin America .

It is a true ecocide, which will have an impact on the future of Brazil, with real damage to the planet.

Hqn: Why is the Amazon so important to everyone, inside and outside Brazil?

LM: For many reasons. The biological riches that exist there are still unknown and can bring answers to the great dramas of human health and the environment. The benefits of these forests exceed what happens in the territory where they are found. The studies carried out by Carlos Nobre ofSpace Research Institutel show that the forest exudes substances that act as binders for vapor molecules resulting from the evaporation of seawater, causing rain. This clumping process is so fabulous that the clouds produced by the forest run southwards, irrigating that green zone that extends from the central-west of Brazil to the south of America. Observing the map of the planet it can be seen that this green area is unique, because at that latitude are the great deserts of Atacama, Namibia and Australia. We reached the conclusion that the so-called “aerial rivers” produced by Amazonia prevent the most productive fertile zone in Latin America from becoming a desert. Therefore, it is in the great interest of Argentines, Uruguayans, Paraguayans, and even transnationals, that the devastation of the Amazon ends. This means that everyone must unite in defense of the jungle, of the indigenous peoples, of the Amazon biome, to control the ecocidal impulses of this government.

It is estimated that if another 5% of the Amazon is destroyed, it will unleash an irreversible process of "sabanization" in the territory with the cessation of this incredible pumping of water to the south.

So if the rest of the world is concerned about fires, about global warming, for us in Latin America the drama includes disasters related to hunger, thirst, and unprecedented economic crises with no possibility of return.

Hqn: Could you develop more precisely the relationship between the fire in the Amazon and the expansion of the extractive frontier?

LM:There is a direct relationship between the advance of extractive agribusiness, in its various dimensions, and fires. At first this implies the withdrawal of the villages and people who live there. The homicide records follow the line of deforestation, which begins with the irregular extraction of noble forests, such as cedars, ipês and mognosm, continues with the felling of the remaining forest, and then burning it. Some benefit from charcoal sales, but in most cases the goal is to quickly “clean” the area for grazing areas. It is estimated that around 70% of the deforested areas are occupied by cattle farms. Burning not only eliminates the forest, it also destroys the fauna responsible for its propagation and also destroys the residual seed bank in the soil, preventing the regeneration of the original forests. After raising livestock, the spaces become coveted by soy and eucalyptus producers, who use large volumes of pesticides, polluting the soil and waters. When soils are depleted, the time for underground exploration opens, the advancement period for mining companies.

In other words, the expulsion of the people who live in the jungle, followed by clearing and burning, are part of a process of destruction that follows logically linked stages that advance towards a point of no return; that cannot be reversed by the action of environmentalists, indigenous peoples, and even, perhaps, the next governments of Brazil.

And this has the support and encouragement of the current government, which is deaf to the cries of the Brazilian people, which demands international demonstrations in defense of life.

Hqn: In terms of Human Rights, what is the situation of the communities that inhabit those territories, peasant or native?

LM: In Brazil, human rights are worth less than property rights and forced tenure. Indigenous and traditional communities are trapped, surrounded by forms of exploitation of the territory that make their traditional practices and cultures unfeasible.

The excessive use of pesticides, aggravated by aerial spraying, pollutes the air, soil and water. New diseases are emerging in an epidemic way, demanding specific treatments whose resources are not available, which induces businesses related to the sale of natural resources and the migration of communities.

The process of installing hydroelectric plants in indigenous areas and environmental reserves also induces the advance of the predatory economy on the territories. This situation is added to others that fuel internal conflicts, where part of the inhabitants propose to sell their rights and wealth, while others propose to resist, which destroys the communities. The co-optation and death of leaders follows the path of deforestation. Similar data occur in other regions of America, where cattle raising, soybeans and eucalyptus trees advance over areas of natural cover with a similar logic, where government support favors practices and businesses that violate human rights.

Hqn: What is the “ruralist bench” and how does this sector influence public policies?

LM:The Bancada Ruralista is called the group of parliamentarians who defend the interests of agribusiness, in all its dimensions. This group works, in the Chamber and the Senate, in conjunction with the so-called Bancada de la Bala, which advocates for the release of firearms for the use of the population, and the Bancada de la Bíblia, which brings together new churches Pentecostals, who are opposed to traditional religions, particularly those of African origin and related to indigenous cultures. They reject liberation theology as a whole, even considering that Pope Francis should not be listened to because he would have "communist" tendencies.

With this bias, the Bancada Ruralista dominates key ministries (such as Agriculture and Health), and has been acting decisively to return Brazil to the status of an export colony of basic products, such as soybeans, sugar cane, cellulose pulp, meat and minerals.

For this group, which dominates the Bolsonaro government and acts in a servile manner to the interests of large transnational companies, the environmental issue "hinders business." In this sense, state instruments are being (or have already been) dismantled. All advocates of these issues, such as indigenous people, environmentalists, leaders of traditional peoples and communities, are treated as enemies to be silenced, pushed aside, and ultimately, when considering the deaths of Sister Dorothy and indigenous leaders, perhaps even eliminated.

For this, in addition to brute force and fires, the constitutional, executive, legislative and judicial powers have been used, as well as the police and the army; that show themselves as efficient collaborators or leave the ground for militias to act, while the “anti-terrorist law” targets social organizations and threatens their leaders.

Hqn: Around the fire in the Amazon, “nationalist” narratives have been updated on the sovereignty of Brazil to decide what happens there, and the old “governance” discourse was rethought due to the regional and global importance of environmental services. that the Amazon rainforest lends. What is your opinion of this debate?

LM: This is not serious. Neither the Amazon will be militarily occupied from abroad, nor the government (even if it suggests it) believes it. This government is handing over the oil, allowing foreigners to buy land in incredible amounts. For example, although people have individual property limits, in the total each municipality may have denationalized up to 25% and its physical area.

What nationalism would this be? … That of a government that allows the privatization and internationalization of all state resources essential for national development; and that it explicitly favors the interests of the United States over those of the Brazilian people.

Hqn: Tell us what initiatives have been developed by organizations in the popular field in relation to the fires in the Amazon?

LM: Some communities affirm that they are going to fight because the climate is war and the lives of their peoples are at stake. Others are committed to international solidarity and the conscience of the Brazilian population, as well as the awakening of nationalism that seems inactive among army officers. Everyone believes that the unthinkable is already happening and that this cannot go further. However, we all know that the limits of the impossible, imposed by logic and ethics, have been challenged and surpassed weekly by this government. For this reason, an effort of internal agglutination is growing, which tends to unite all sectors, in defense of a national project.

Hqn: Following this line, what initiatives are being proposed from the popular camp against Bolsonaro's policies and the construction of alternatives from organizations? Are there any that you would like to highlight?

LM:Social organizations understand that a Brazilian project is needed, and they unite around the Popular Brazil Front and People Without Fear, which articulate the multiple environmental, rural, urban, nutritional and workers' organizations. This project includes agrarian reform, urban reform, agroecology, food sovereignty and other initiatives that, in a certain sense, in my opinion, are very consistent with the precepts of Laudato Si because they propose, like Francisco, that common goods should be protected, that no worker should be without work, no family homeless, and no farmer without land.

Hqn: How do you see and how do you imagine what is coming?

LM: I believe that this situation is transitory, and that even if it worsens in the short term, it will end. At that time, which we hope not too far away, we will face a poorer, sadder country, less likely to meet the needs of the people, but at a time of reconstruction.

We hope that international solidarity will make it possible to prevent destruction without return such as that which occurs in the Amazon, and that the conflicts stimulated by President Bolsonaro do not imply the death of Brazilians concerned with the present of their families and the future of the nation. But surely, this winter of fire will pass and we will rebuild the self-esteem, the joy and the image of Brazil.

- Download the article in Portuguese: here

Source: Huerquen, collective communication

Video: See How Beef Is Destroying The Amazon (October 2020).