Amazonia and the Arsonists

It was enough for Emmanuel Macron to post an alarming tweet on the eve of the G7 conference in Biarritz, in which he described the forest fires in The Brazilian Amazon as the trigger for “an international crisis.” A few hours later, the Brazilian general Eduardo Villas Boas shot back symbolically that Macron had launched a “direct attack on Brazilian sovereignty” that “objectively includes threats of military force,” the former president said. Army chief and acting chief strategist of the Bolsonaro regime.


Unsatisfied with the paranoid insinuation and bar every diplomatic instinct, the far-right Villas Boas went over to the attack against France with the opportunistic quote of an unforgettable Vietnamese national hero: “It turns out to be the question of where this country claims moral authority from, because as Ho Chi Minh said, it is the land of the Enlightenment, but when it is on the way, it forgets to take the Enlightenment with it.”

The Elysée Palace ignored the general’s mania for persecution and targeted The Jair Bolsonaro, who was trained and elected by Villas Boas as a presidential candidate. In a statement issued by Macron, it said that “given Brazil’s attitude in recent weeks, the President of the French Republic can only see that President Bolsonaro lied to him at the (G20) summit in Osaka,” and this time raised the alarm with a threat in Berlin. : ‘In these circumstances, France rejects the agreement with Mercosur’, which, moreover, has not yet been ratified by the French Parliament.

Because of Macron’s tweet that Amazonia is an international “common good,” Bolsonaro insinuated that the French president probably regarded the gigantic rainforest as a “colony.” Referring to the Notre Dame fire, Bolsonaro’s chief cabinet officer, Onyx Lorenzoni, did not shy away from a skewed comparison: “Macron does not even manage to prevent a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world heritage. He wants to teach us lessons for our country?”. Bolsonaro added another to one with a kick under Macron’s belt line: the Frenchman was only “jealous” of his wife, 26, who was 26 years his junior. Macron’s wife Brigitte is 24 years older than him, the elected army captain mocked on Facebook.

With the disgusting allusion that women are something like loot," Bolsonaro downgraded the Amazonforest fire debate to its usual level of pissoir walls. And cynically demanded that Macron apologize, not him. Otherwise, Brazil will not accept the EUR 20 million offered by the EU to fight forest fires.

Once again in the main Brussels action, after France, Ireland and Luxembourg also openly threatened to veto the ratification of the free trade agreement with the Mercosur states. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Der Spiegel that “a trade agreement is only useful if, at least to a large extent, similar values are obtained. But Bolsonaro obviously doesn’t care about climate and environmental protection.” According to Asselborn, one of the main conditions for the Treaty was no longer met and the Luxembourg Government had therefore decided to put ratification on hold.

Against electricity, the German federal government is stubbornly sticking to the trade agreement. A non-conclusion is not the appropriate answer to what is happening in Brazil, government spokesmen said on August 23, at the height of the fire. The agreement contains a chapter on sustainability “with ambitious rules on climate protection”. According to official German opinion, the EU can rely on an “effective implementation” of the sustainability compromise, because the Mercosur states had signed or would have signed the Paris climate agreement – a blue-eyed or bare cynicism, the resistance ditches with CDU Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, but above all with the Greens. Their MEP Sven Giegold described the sustainability chapter as a pure illusion. It is technically ineffective at all, because none of it can be enforceable.

Forest fires with a political, criminal background

Under massive domestic and foreign fire, Bolsonaro issued a fire ban for the next 60 days on Wednesday, August 28.

However, the German Federal Government can be accused of playing with fire in the truest and metaphorical sense of the word. One of the main business partners of the Free Trade Agreement on the Brazilian side is one of the most powerful agribusiness groups on the world market for soya cereals and meat products, which is to a large extent involved in criminal activities carried out by massive tax evasion, land grabs and forest destruction, to the expulsion and murder of poor farmers and Indians.

For the past week, confirmed but little-noticed evidence has been circulating in Brazil that a significant proportion of the forest fires in Amazonia on the “Day of Fire”, last August 10, were encouraged by Bolsonaro and encouraged by large landowners. along the BR-163 highway in the southwestern part of the state of Paro was ignited with criminal intent. The indictment does not come from opponents of the regime, but is based on investigations by the magazine GloboRural in the possession of the dominant media group O Globo.

The arson was planned by a 70-strong WhatsApp farming group (code word “SERT-O”) and carried out on undeveloped, grassy arable land, but whose flames are similar to the neighbouring 1.3 million hectares, known for its rich biodiversity. Jamanxim National Park. What’s more, the idea was that the fire would reach Terra do Meio, an area branded by agricultural conflicts in the Eastern Amazon city of Paro.

Why was the Bolsonaro arson attack encouraged? The intention was to express Bolsonaro’s support for its decision to “loosen” the fire and grubbing-up controls of the Ministry of the Environment’s regulator Ibama, as well as to demand his promise to fine farmers for environmental violations and tax debts. amnesty" or annul.

The toleration, if not the complicity of Bolsonaro with the arsonists, is explained by the deliberate disregard of a warning from the public prosecutor. On 7 August, three days before the gigantic fire spread in the Novo Progresso region of Paro, the Ibama had written to the Ibama warning of the intended “Day of Fire” and recommended preventive measures. Nothing happened; the Ibama in Paro had already been institutionally smashed by Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles.

One in three tax evaders in Brazil is part of the agribusiness

The Bolsonaro government estimates an unspecified revenue hole of 189.1 billion reais for 2019, according to the Budget Guidelines Act (LDO) passed by parliament in July; equivalent to approximately 42 billion euros. But the hole created by tax evasion by the agribusiness in the first half of 2018 alone was almost twice as high, according to Achilles Frias, chairman of the Association of Prosecutors of the Ministry of Finance (Sinprofaz), equivalent to 76.6 billion euros. “Workers are the biggest victims of this crime,” Frias warned. But are EU politicians, bureaucrats and importers concerned about these offences?

The 500 largest tax evaders owe the Brazilian state the equivalent of 181 billion euros. Of this, 41 percent – equivalent to 76.6 billion euros – is accounted for by farmers and plantation owners. The political pressure in Parliament and on the “fire front” seems to be paying off for the agro-exporters to the EU: last June, Bolsonaro already promised the first tranche of a “debt amnesty” of the equivalent of 4 billion euros.

Legalized land grab threatens 16,000 sq km of rainforest

According to the Amazon Monitoring Institute Imazon, 192 million hectares, or 38 percent of the total area of the Brazilian Amazon, are in public hands “without a legal purpose,” but they are occupied by private individuals.

Of the unallocated area, 89 million hectares (18 percent of the territory) were registered in the Central Register of Land Ownership (CAR). “It is imperative that the government deal with the situation of this 38 percent,” as most of the territory was acquired illegally, warned Brenda Brito researcher at Imazon. By 2025, the institute said, 16,000 km2 of rainforest could fall victim to the chainsaw and fire in this area alone.

Land disputes involving millions of people affected include territory with the area of Germany

The expansion of agrobusiness in Brazil is going on with harrowing images and figures on the use of unimaginable violence. According to the Pastoral Commission on Land Affairs (CPT), the leading landowners in the export business have been responsible for a 22 percent increase in land evictions and 26 percent murders since 2016. In 2016 alone – the year of the parliamentary coup against President Dilma Rousseff, in which the agribusiness was particularly active and aggressive – the expulsions of defenceless indigenous people and peasants took place around 232 (two hundred and thirty-two!) percent.

In 2016, a total of 910,000 people were affected by 1,536 land conflicts across Brazil. The main causes of the confrontations were struggles for land, work and water access. Among those most affected were indigenous peoples, impoverished smallholders, and Afro-Brazilian quilombola communities. Between 2015 and 2016, attempts at murder by the Latifundium increased from 59 to 74, or 25 percent. The number of people physically attacked rose from 187 to 571 over the same period; that is, by a hair-raising 205 percent. The data are alarming compared to rural women. According to the CPT survey, 482 women were victims of violence due to land conflicts last year, an increase of 377 percent compared to 2017.

According to the CPT, the conflicts instigated by the agribusiness extend to more than 37 million hectares; an area the size of Japan, slightly more than the territory of Germany. Amazonia alone is the site of 85 percent of the land disputes in Brazil, of which 54 percent – more than half – take place in indigenous areas, which Bolsonaro considers “overdue” and with the general release of weapons to the large landowners fatally Threatened.

But one of the enemies of the Bolsonaro regime is the nature lovers and environmentalists, whom the psychotic-looking head of state recently accused of being the originator of the forest fires. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, 57 environmental activists were murdered in Brazil – a horrendous figure that led the Spanish daily El Pais to the dantesque title: “Brazil, the world’s most lethal country for environmentalists”.