The Peoples’ territory is burning, the trees have become ash that flies and scatters itself upon the cities: the somber sky weighs an immeasurable heaviness, where time has been erased, leading us to doubt our future. The inhabitants of the metropolises, so overlooked, prisoners to their buildings and traffic jams, look up frightened and appear to finally remember: there lives a forest at their side, or at least once upon a time…
Now, we could create poetry from this, tragedies are also recited, but let us not fool ourselves: there exists something crude and ugly behind the fire that consumes Amazonia – the curtains of smoke do not blindfold us. The bloodstained hand that lit the flame is the hand of the free market: it is the colonizing Neo-liberal policy, so obediently embraced by Bolosarno’s government, leading us to believe that the culprits are the Peoples from the forest and their territories.
Each word uttered by Bolsonaro (PSL) and his ministers, and here we underscore specifically that of the Environment, Ricardo Salles (Partido Novo), who is like the wind that spreads the flame, be it when one tries to create phantoms and enemies, inverting roles and blaming environmental organisations for the forest fires that the world witnesses while baffled or when another attempts to underhandedly blame the people of the North (referring to the Brazilian Amazonia population that uses archaic customs) for the fire that consumes the territory of such rich biodiversity. So if their discourses have lit the embers, their actions act as alcohol, causing calamitous explosions: we can cite the budget cuts to the Minister of the Environment of 187 million reals (40 million euros) which led to a sequence of cuts directed at environmental protection: the National Policy on Climate Change experienced a cut equivalent to 95% of its budget; the Support, Administration and Implementation of Federal Conservation Units Programme, under the auspices of the ICMBio (Chico Mendez Biodiversity Conversation Institute) has had cuts of more than 45 million reals (9 million euros). We could also include the extinction and attacks upon important Councils that inspect and plan environmental policies, such as the National Council on the Environment (CONAMA), including the frequent onslaughts against the Brazilian Environmental and Natural Resource Institute (IBAMA), characterised by the ultra-right government as simply a fine machine or the denial of science once it supports the denouncement of the obvious, from the increase in deforestation during the current administration to the damage caused by pesticides upon the population’s health (pesticides have been approved at a record level and, to top it off, have had their classifications lowered in relation to their toxicity in recent regulations).
The list could be even longer but here we pause. Here, our focus is another: it is in the hand that starts the fire, more than just the fire that sprawls; it is the hand that manipulates this racist, colonizing and misogynist government: the hand of the free market.
There is nothing new here, this is true.
Our socio-environmental tragedy did not start today: mega-development projects with an enormous emphasis on aggressive mining, dams and agribusiness, have impacted the environment and the Peoples of Brazil for quite some time. It is as though we live an eternal sacking of our common goods. And that the dry climate facilitates the incidence of the fires is nothing new either: while the ignorance of our times challenge the most basic givens, it seems that consensus exists.
The dimensions of what is occurring right now, however, are others. “Amazonia is burning more in 2019, and it being the dry period in and of itself is not the explanation” as we have been alerted by the INPE (the Amazonian Environmental Research Institute). Furthermore, it states that the concentration of fires in the areas more recently deforested and which have experienced a milder drought is a strong indication of arson, functioning to intentionally clear these areas. Emptied of people and forests, these lands can such be used for capital expansion through advancing the agricultural frontier for agribusiness and mega-projects of mineral extraction, which have intensive foreign investment.
More than 60% of the forest fires since the beginning of the year have been identified on private properties registered in the Rural Environmental Registry, indicating the archaic nationalistic rural plantation owners as the peons of global agribusiness. Encouraged by Bolsonaro’s policies, the Neo-liberal fire has spread and unfortunately will last for more than a day.
Will Brazil win over Brazil and how do we combat the fire that spreads like the fascist winds that ravage the country, and literally places Amazonia in flames and puts the life of the planet at risk? Unquestionably, the answer appears to us: forests are still standing where the First Nations are still standing, and not by happenstance: they are part of each other – as are we as well, yet we do not remember or may have forgotten, deluded by the false solutions offered by capitalism that, when convenient, dresses up in green and claims to be worried about the forest that sooner or later will be razed, or maybe even letting it stand while it is privatised and transformed into assets to be traded on the stock market, ousting those who live with it in harmony. What havoc they have inflicted added to the ignorance of some and for the profit of others – and even worse when culminated in only one person. Examples of this are not lacking in the current Brazilian government.
To accomplish this, the traditional forms of life teach us about protecting nature; the relationship is of belonging and not of utilisation. These are historical struggles of the First Nations and the traditional communities in defense of their cultures and their territories that inspire the fight that we wage for environmental, social, economical and gender justice for all Peoples. From there our answer resounds – what should we do?! As usual it has always come from there, we just need to listen. Such that the warning needs to be repeated, loud and clear: independent of whatever other well-intended proposal, the solution for the absurdity that we are witnessing in this sad chapter of history is in strengthening the struggles of the First Nations, Quilombas (historical Brazilian slave refuges), farmers, feminists and agroecology and popular sovereignty must be constructed from within the territories such that we can transform the system. Any action that follows another path, be it from the top down or from the North to the South or from capital upon life, they all go against the current.
The sadness and embarrassment generated by these criminal blazes are devastating; however, they should be transformed into outrage and struggle, uniting all the Peoples of Brazil, in all our diversity and knowledge that emanates from each and every territory, with our forests, savannas, countrysides and cities, mountains and bodies of water, cultures and memory such that we shout out that we continue to resist, to exist, to construct and reconstruct strength and popular sovereignty to defeat this cruel fascism, subservient to transnational interests and the colonising, racist and patriarchal logic of the market. The throes and losses are immense: capitalism assumes with joy its Neo-liberal nature, attacks with violence, retailiates against any form of equality, invades and sucks up whatever it finds in the earth, the bodies of water and of humans.
So if the attacks are not new, nor is the resistence, which finds encouragement and support in international solidariety among the Peoples of the world that fight against this system and its injustices. So as Neo-liberal fascism moves forward so at the same pace do our diverisity and defenses by the Peoples and territories. It may take more time than we would like; however, if it were a question of choice, we would certainly not even be in this situation. There are no options: we must keep fighting the struggle that has been imposed upon us in these times, and no matter what happens, it is our struggle. Thus, we shall fight.
At the end of it all, Brazil shall win over Brazil. (http://www.amigosdaterrabrasil.org.br/