It’s not the first year that the Amazon has been burning during dry season, because of slash-and-burn agriculture, which involves the (illegal) felling and burning of trees. This year, however, the fires expanded, and the whole planet became aware of the risk of losing its main ‘green lung’. Brazilian journalist and writer Toni Marques looks at the political underpinnings, falsehoods and manipulations behind the environmental tragedy.
Who is to blame when parties really get out of hand? This is a good question by an old New Wave song. While all New Wave songs are old, the question remains the same no matter what is happening in Brazil right now. Investigators are dissecting a slash-and-burn call by farmers and/or loggers that may or may not have to do with the current rainforest fires. Maybe we are talking about wildfires here, or maybe the president of Brazil had a point when he stated that save-the-rainforest NGO’s have become arsonists when confronted with slashed-and-burned government grants. Maybe even the minister of Agriculture is right when she says that the rainforest, like a liberal economy, will naturally recover itself, so the rainforest needs no re-forestation budget re-allocation.
Or maybe the president sees what nobody else sees. The same president that on a social network had endorsed a commentary, posted by a follower, about Michelle Macron’s age when compared to Bolsonaro’s wife age. An US$ 20 million helping hand pledged by the G7 countries, the president has called it a “handout”. It may very well be a handout, but a government shutdown is looming, Brazil’s 2020 federal budget suggests.
It is all about confrontation, uninformed and rude confrontation. Uninformed his minister of Foreign Relations seems to be, at least when he is writing about the current president of the United States. In 2017, the minister, Ernesto Araújo, wrote an article, “Trump and the West”, that says: “[Donald] Trump talks about God, and nothing is more offensive to the post-modern man, who killed God a long time ago”. Trump also talks about grabbing women “by the pussy”, no? And rude one of the president’s sons seems to be. The president has appointed one of his sons as the ambassador of Brazil to the United States. Eduardo Bolsonaro, who says his experience of flipping burgers while learning English in the U.S. has given him some knowledge about America, recently went to the Internet to say that he is studying in order to face the confirmation hearing in the Senate. Eduardo has tweeted that his studies include facts about the independence of Brazil from Portugal, “going through Leopoldina, Bonifácio, and Princess Isabel”. Princess Leopoldina’s and José Bonifácio’s roles in the independence, there is no problem with that, but in 1822 Isabel was not even a baby. Neither was Isabel’s father, who was born in 1825. When confronted with the mistake by someone who had twitted back, Eduardo Bolsonaro went nuclear: “It must be another donkey with a diploma on the wall thinking this is synonymous of knowledge”.
Brazilian leftwing parties owe everything to Marxism and post-Marxism doctrines, from unionism to identity politics. Now the international rightwing time has come to Brazil, where extreme right-wingers as the president himself despise science as a Marxist credo if science does not back up his beliefs. Everything is tainted by leftwing ideology, from the public education system to the sustainable capitalism, he and some of his key cabinet members think. Bolsonaro is a president who says the Brazilian Supreme Court must have an evangelical justice. What about, let’s say, an atheist justice, an Umbanda justice?
That means the rainforest fires are now more difficult to deal with. The president thinks the Native Brazilian peoples have too much protection, their ancestral rainforest lands included. He dislikes speed-limiting radars on federal roads. Since day one in office, he submitted to the Congress not one nor two executive decrees on firearms, but seven. His idea of Brazil seems to be a combo of U.S. Republicans de-regulation approach, Scandinavian self-control stance, and South-Korean education standards. That Frankenstein country has German engineering excellency, Chinese GDP growth, Swiss sanitation facilities, Monaco homicide rates, Denmark corruption levels, and Garden of Eden woods.
Photos by Luiza Vasiliu.