The Amazon is ablaze. This year, the unprecedented number of fires raging in the rainforest represents an 82% increase from 2018. Smoke from the fires plunged Sao Paulo into darkness. This crisis threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples who call the Amazon home.
MADRE calls for solidarity with and protections for Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, especially Indigenous women who are defending their territories against exploitation and confronting far-right policies to protect their lands and communities. We are mobilizing resources to provide urgent aid and to support Indigenous women’s organizing.
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Large swaths of the Amazon are at risk of being lost forever. The fires threaten the rainforest’s rich biodiversity and have led to a huge increase in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists warn the Amazon is approaching a tipping point: if enough of the ecosystem is destroyed, it will turn the forest into a savannah. Losing the rainforest would vastly accelerate climate breakdown globally.
This devastation was caused by the ranching, farming, and logging industries, who set fire to the Amazon to clear space, such as for cattle farming and soybean production. With an 80% rise in deforestation this year, this crisis has been triggered by the destructive policies of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Ever since taking office, he’s made it his mission to open the rainforest to business: mining, agriculture and hydro-electric dams. During his presidential campaign, he said: “Not one centimeter of land will be demarcated for Indigenous reserves.” Already, he’s dismantled crucial protections for Indigenous communities and slashed fines for environmental violations. Meanwhile, this week Donald Trump broadcasted again his support for Bolsonaro, his latest instance of emboldening right-wing strongmen worldwide.
Bolsonaro’s moves are backed by corporate interests, including agribusiness and the foreign investors that finance them. As the world’s largest exporter of beef, Brazil’s powerful beef lobby is keen to privatize the Amazon. Now, a proposed trade deal between South America’s Mercosur countries and the European Union could expand markets for Brazil’s beef industry, paving the way for further mono-cropping and vast deforestation. After pressure from activists, France and Ireland are considering blocking this deal - but it may not be enough to sink it.
Maria Luisa Mendonça, co-director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil, stated:
“Destroying the Amazon to open space for agribusiness will not bring economic development to Brazil because [its] agricultural system is a main cause of climate change. The expansion of mono-cropping of agricultural commodities is destroying soil fertility, biodiversity, wildlife and water sources. We need to preserve our natural resources and create an ecological agriculture system, protecting land rights of indigenous and small farming communities.”
Join us as we continue to push for Indigenous women’s rights and the protection of our planet.