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Porto de Moz, Amazonia: it’s not just the fires — it’s much worse than that

The Bolsonaro government has given green light to every form of environmental destruction.


Folks, I live in Porto de Moz, Pará, on the Xingu river. We’re in the middle of Amazonia, and you have no idea what’s going on here. The press is focussing on the question of the fires, but that’s just one of the things that’s happening. It’s horrendous to realize that it’s much, much worse.

Since Bolsonaro was elected president, it seems that the loggers, the farmers, the big estate owners and the rest of the destroyers feel free to commit any environmental crime. In the president’s words they found an incentive to destroy nature with the certainty of going unpunished.

During the PT governments, the environmental policies seriously inconvenienced this lot. During that time various conservation units were established all over Amazonia. Even here, in my own municipality, they created the largest ‘extractive reserve’ at Verde para Sempre. Everywhere initiatives were started for projects combining development with environmental preservation, which we call sustainable development. Just in Verde para Sempre we have 6 projects for community forest management, a model for sustainable development which directly confronts the destructive exploration of those who oppose preservation of the environment.

Sustainable logging project in Verde para Sempre

Now the destroyers are felling enormous areas off their own bat without the slightest semblance of legality under environmental law. As you know, alongside this goes the fate of the natural world itself: plants, animals and the whole gamut of biodiversity. They just set fire to it and burn everything that remains to ashes.

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This really worries us. The first people to feel the effects is us, the people who live here. On top of all that there is an explosion of illegal miners who are contaminating the rivers and the subsoil. Predatory fishing [with dynamite] has come back and that threatens the future of fish species. Land grabbing is back. And when we question all this destruction, we ourselves are threatened and run serious risks.

Bolsonaro doesn’t know the Amazon and feels no responsibility whatever for the people that live here. He accuses the NGOs of causing the fires, but he’s a brazen liar. He knows perfectly well who is responsible for the destruction, but he prefers to turn things on their head and accuse those who fight for the defence of Amazonia. It’s typical of him to do that.

When it comes to the environment, we live in constant fear. Bolsonaro is the guarantor of impunity for what is happening in Amazonia. It’s no coincidence that he is taking apart IBAMA and ICMBio. The ruralistas  of Amazonia want him to abolish the reserves. Bolsonaro is to blame, definitely, for what is happening in Amazonia. The things he says positively encourage these practices. It’s not just the fires – the destruction is much, much worse!

#ForaBolsonaro #SosAmazônia

Elias Flexa, Philosopher and river-dweller in the Amazon.

Amazon Diary

Dan Baron Cohen Amazon Diary

Dan Baron is a performance educator, living in the Amazonian afro-indigenous community of Cabelo Seco, Pará. After doctoral research into ‘theatre as education’ at Oxford University, Dan began his ‘transformance’ project in Manchester, moving to Derry in 1988, to the Rhondda in 1994. and, in 1998, to Brazil. Collaborations with at-risk landless, indigenous, trade union and school communities, generated collective performances, murals, sculptures, and in 2008, the Amazonian Rivers of Meeting project. In 2012, Dan co-founded its Community University of the Rivers with the AfroRaiz Collective. As Chair of the World Alliance for Arts Education (2006-10), and member of the World Social Forum international council, Dan advocated arts education for sustainable futures. Dan publications include ‘Theatre of Self-Determination’ (Derry, 2001), ‘Cultural Literacy’ (São Paulo, 2004), ‘Harvest in Times of Drought’ (Marabá, 2011), and numerous essays.

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