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Amazon: global resistance to Bolsonaro’s destruction

The ITUC has expressed its full solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who have seen vast swathes of their homeland go up in smoke. The policies and environmental denialism of Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro have been heavily criticised by the international community as contributing to the devastation.

“Bolsonaro’s long-standing denial of the scientific consensus on climate, coupled with the impunity he promotes for the powerful, is an open invitation to the worst of the Amazon’s predatory exploiters. He has systematically dismantled protections: of the planet and of people. The results are plain to see, and he has detonated a powder keg of destruction,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.

“These flames have revived the determination of the resistance to the extreme right government of Brazil, and the resistance is increasingly international and united. Environmental movements, workers, indigenous peoples, youth and others are standing together, and we must not let Bolsonaro’s delusional world views threaten our planet. Bolsonaro claims that the Amazon belongs to Brazil, but in fact he is stealing it from the people of his own country and the seven other Amazon countries, and suffocating the lungs of the earth, in the interests of international capital,” said Burrow.

Protests at Brazilian embassies have taken place in numerous capital cities and more are planned.

An integral part of Bolsonaro’s electoral campaign was his pledge to exploit the Amazon. While illegal deforestation was already the focus of international outcry, Bolsonaro chose to roll back protections for indigenous people and for the environment. Since coming to power, he has selected an environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, known as the “anti-environment minister” for his close ties to the mining industry. Salles was notably found to have altered maps to the benefit of mining companies while serving as a state environmental official, a conviction which landed only three weeks prior to his appointment by Bolsonaro.

“The Amazon is ours,” announced Bolsonaro last month in response to concerns expressed by the international community about his environmental approach, ignoring the fact that the Amazon extends into eight countries, not just Brazil.

“The extent of the damage can be traced to his approach. The extractive approach is generalised. For working people like for the Amazon, his approach is to give a free pass to exploitation. His denial is destroying a vital resource for the environmental viability of our planet. Humans have co-existed within and protected this vast habitat for millennia, and the indigenous peoples now find their homes destroyed and are forced to flee. Their custodian role needs to be supported, not dismantled,” said Burrow.

Bolsonaro’s controversial election occurred amid the country’s most contentious trial, which saw the overwhelmingly popular ex-president Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva barred from presenting himself. Recent revelations have shown the politicised abuse of prosecutorial powers and collusion of the judge and prosecution during the trial that resulted in Lula’s imprisonment. The judge responsible is now Bolsonaro’s justice minister. The ITUC is campaigning with Brazilian trade unions and civil society for Lula’s release and against Bolsonaro’s retrograde attacks on labour law and social security.


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