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“Following deforestation, intentional fires are set in to clear land and make way for agriculture, livestock and property speculation, often illegally. Fires tend to be more numerous in August or September”Highlights Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.
The year 2019, the first in which Jair Bolsonaro held the position of president of the republic, was disastrous for the Amazon, the main green lung of the planet. The Real Time Deforestation Detection System of the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil (INPE, for its acronym in Brazilian) published at the beginning of 2020 that the area with "deforestation warnings" added 9,166 square kilometers compared to 4,946 square kilometers from 2018, an increase of 85%. It was the largest annual rainforest destruction of the decade. And 2020 could be worse if the current rate of fires continues.
In the first ten days of August alone, 10,136 fires were detected throughout the Brazilian Amazon, an increase of 17% over last year in the same period and the highest figure in the last decade. If the fortnight between July 16 and August 15 is analyzed, the number of outbreaks verified by the INP was 20,473, only 8% less than that registered in 2019.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned of the situation on August 26 with the publication of a report in which they denounced that, at the current rate, the fires could be worse this year. In fact, despite the fact that the National Policy on Climate Change, with a binding character, dictates a commitment by the Brazilian Government to reduce the general annual deforestation rate to 3,925 square kilometers, in April the new deforested areas already totaled 4,509 km2 between the territory. burned and the cleared and the one not yet lit. In addition, 28% more fires were detected in July than in the same month of the previous year.
The scientific and environmental communities already saw in 2019 the hand of Bolsonaro behind the disaster. In its exploitation plans for the Amazon, it stripped public administrations such as the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), linked to the Ministry of the Environment and responsible for the execution of the National Environmental Policy. .
The Globo Rural magazine, warned that on August 7, 2019, three days before the so-called 'Fire Day' in which the massive fires began in the Novo Pogresso region, in the State of Pará, a group of 70 people —Among which were landowners, rural producers, merchants, and trade unionists— coordinated through a WhatsApp group to set fire to the banks of the BR-163 highway, a road that connects the area with the State of Mato Grosso and the ports fluvial of the Tapajos river. The information was made known to the Ministry of the Environment before the "day of the fire", but no action was taken.
This year the cause is the same, according to researchers and environmentalists, despite the 120-day moratorium for which fires were banned in the region and the dispatch of military personnel to the area, a measure with "practically negligible efficiency. ”, As indicated by HRW.
"Lfires in the Amazon rainforest do not occur naturally”, They denounce from the non-governmental organization. "Following deforestation, intentional fires are set in to clear land and make way for agriculture, livestock and property speculation, often illegally. Fires tend to be more numerous in August or September”.
The study The Bad Apples of Brazilian Agribusiness, published in the journal Science in July, revealed that around 20% of soybean exports - of which Brazil is the world's largest producer - and 17% of beef exports from the South American country to the EU come from areas with illegal deforestation activity in the Amazon. The researchers directly accused Bolsonaro of encouraging deforestation "Challenging Brazil's Forest Code and the soy moratorium agreement, which prohibits the clearing of forests for grain production”.
For his part, Bolsonaro has tried to downplay the crisis, saying on August 11, despite the brutal evidence, before several South American leaders: “They will not find a source of fire, nor a quarter of a deforested hectare”. This week, a journalist published an extract from the documentary The Forum in which the president of Brazil communicates to the former US vice president and leader in the institutional fight against climate change, Al Gore, his wish that Brazil and the US “explode together. the Amazon ”, with the consequent bewilderment of Gore, for whom the jungle is a source of“ deep concern ”.
In March, a study by the NGO Amazon Watch revealed that between 2017 and 2019 Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and BlackRock, have signed projects worth 6,000 million euros with companies such as GeoPark, Amerisur, Frontera and Andes Petroleum to the exploitation of oil fields in the western Amazon, in this case a quarter of the forests that comprise the Amazon area of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. During the quarantine, the Sinchi Institute of Colombia denounced on the pages of the Sustainable Week website that intentional fires were taking place in the Colombian jungle.
On Friday, August 28, organizations such as Fridays for Future, Ecologistas en Acción, or the state campaign No to Trade and Investment Treaties gathered at the Brazilian embassy in Madrid and at the country's consulate in Malaga to denounce the collusion of the Bolsonaro with the illegal agricultural industry and international inaction in the face of the disaster.
They demanded of the Brazilian president “to stop its policy of destroying this lung of the world and to respect the human rights of the native peoples of Brazil”, Communities that, they denounce, are evicted and displaced from their lands by fires, the advance of agribusiness and illegal mining or infrastructure projects.
In fact, they accuse Bolsonaro of developing mechanisms “of doubtful legality” against these peoples, such as the gradual dismantling of the Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), which has also been under the direction of a former evangelizer.
Among the demands of the protest, the convening groups also addressed the Spanish Government, which they demanded to end the trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), "that will promote and facilitate the importation of three products responsible for Amazon deforestation: beef, soybeans to feed livestock and sugar cane to make biofuels”.
Austria, Holland, the Belgian region of Wallonia and Germany, the latter through statements by Angela Merkel with young activists, have shown their rejection of the agreement in its current state due to its environmental impact or because of Bolsonaro's refusal to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Further, "the trade agreement does not contain any sanctioning mechanism regarding human rights, climate or the environment"They recall from Ecologists in Action.
The protest carried out on Friday is part of the global campaign launched by Fridays for Future Brazil, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and the World Assembly for the Amazon, promoted in July by 540 groups from the region, under the slogans SOS Amazonia and Without Amazonia there is no future.