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Re: Brazil

Post by blindpig » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:56 pm

Lula’s political imprisonment reaches 500 days
Everyone who cared about Democracy who was paying attention to what was happening in Brazil knew, from day one, that Lula’s arrest was a sham result of a biased political witch hunt led by right wing extremists in order to remove him from the presidential race. The Intercept revelations now prove, unequivocally, that they were right.

by Brian Mier

August 19 marks the 500th day of political imprisonment for leftist former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. For 500 days, he’s been held in solitary confinement in violation of the Mandela Rules, in the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, for a crime that neither the prosecutors nor disgraced former judge Sergio Moro could even clearly define: undetermined acts of corruption. For 500 days, a permanent group of hundreds of union and Movimento de Trabalhadores Sem Terra (Landless Rural Workers Movement/MST) activists, which rotate members on a regular basis, has been camped out in front of the Curitiba federal police headquarters yelling “good morning, good evening” and “good night” and sing songs to Lula. From his windowless cell, he can hear them.

Thrown in jail as part of a joint US Department of Justice/SEC/Curitiba Public Prosecutors Office investigation based on one coerced plea bargain testimony made by a known liar who changed his story three time in exchange for a 90% sentence reduction and partial retention of millions of dollars in illicit assets, no material evidence was ever shown implicating Lula in any crime. The Intercept has now revealed leaked social media conversations that show massive illegal collusion between then-judge Moro (who received a cabinet position in the right wing extremist Bolsonaro administration for removing Lula from last year’s elections), the Lava Jato prosecutors and at least two members of the Supreme Court. These leaks prove, without a shadow of a doubt that Lula is a political prisoner and was arrested specifically to prevent him from winning the 2018 Presidential elections, opening up the door for Jair Bolsonaro, who was polling at less than half the popularity of Lula even after he had been in jail illegally barred from contact with the press for 3 months.

On the day Lula was ordered to turn himself in, tens of thousands of supporters surrounded the ABC Metallurgical Workers Union headquarters begging him not to do it. I was there and filmed it, to have some proof against the foreign correspondents in case they tried to downplay or ignore it. Shortly before he turned himself in, Lula, gave a speech to the tearful crowd saying, “there is no point in trying to end my ideas, they are already lingering in the air and you can’t arrest them. There is no point in trying to stop me from dreaming, because once I cease dreaming I’ll keep dreaming through your minds and your dreams. There is no point in them thinking that this will cease when I have a heart attack. That’s nonsense, because my heart shall beat through your hearts, and they are millions of hearts. They can kill one, two or 100 flowers, but they will never prevent the coming of the spring.”

Immediately after Lula’s arrest, the AFL-CIO, representing 12.7 million US and Canadian union workers, delivered a letter to the Brazilian embassy in Washington demanding Lula’s release, saying, “Lula’s persecution, conviction and detention are more than a violation of his human rights. They are a bald political maneuver to prevent him from running for president in the October 2018 election. He has long led all polls taken on the upcoming election and we cannot allow him to be barred and Brazil to suffer another denial of democracy. Given his innocence and the lack of any evidence, Lula turned himself in to the authorities in Curitiba. In Brazil and around the world union, human rights and democracy activists are mobilizing support for Lula and democracy in Brazil.”

Led by by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), 29 US lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—delivered a similar letter to the Brazilian embassy saying that Lula “was imprisoned following a highly questionable and politicized judicial process in which his rights were apparently violated,” and that there is “reason to believe that the main objective for his jailing is to prevent him from running in upcoming elections.”

Renowned intellectuals around the world, like Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis, declared Lula a political prisoner, something that Brasil Wire also declared immediately after his arrest.

Angela Davis knows Lula a political prisoner when she sees one

In short, everyone who cared about Democracy who was paying attention to what was happening in Brazil knew, from day one, that Lula’s arrest was a sham result of a biased political witch hunt led by right wing extremists in order to remove him from the presidential race. The Intercept revelations now prove, unequivocally, that they were right.

The most prominent voices in the mainstream press, however, did everything to normalize Lula’s arrest by glossing over important details, such as the fact that the judge in charge of admitting or rejecting evidence in the investigation was allowed to rule on his own case, in a legal loophole which dates back to the inquisition. They also ignored the fact that the trial took place with no jury and the US DOJ was a partner in the investigation. The Guardian lied about the crime Lula was convicted of, saying his conviction was part of an R$88 million graft scheme, to deliberately make it seem more serious. In the New Yorker, former Bloomberg journalist Alex Cuadros, who for some bizarre reason is still perceived as a progressive in some US circles, called Lula’s arrest, “the most important criminal conviction in Brazil’s history”. Citing no source, he gave the misinformation that, after Lula’s arrest while he was still leading in the polls with more support than all other candidates combined, “95% of Brazilians support Operation Car Wash”. Despite the fact that no crime had been clearly defined in Lula’s conviction, and no material evidence presented, Cuadros said, in a patronizing manner, that “Lula lived up to an old Brazilian saying, “rouba mas faz”—“he steals, but he gets things done.”

To anyone paying attention, these journalists and media groups were acting as stenographers for regime change. They were buttering up their readers for the return of fascism and the pillaging of Brazil’s natural resources in direct benefit of their corporate advertisers. But this is all water under the bridge now, because the Intercept revelations prove, without a doubt, how wrong they were. The only thing left for them now is damage control.

But what is happening with Lula’s case right now? Is there any sign he will be released?

Early Sunday morning, a new chapter in the #VazaJato scandal made the political persecution to which former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is victim of more clear than ever. Conversations between prosecutors revealed by the Folha de São Paulo newspaper in partnership with the Intercept Brasil show that the Lava Jato task-force broke the law to access data protected by the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service without authorization. The illegal act was practiced repeatedly, including against former President Lula in the case of the Atibaia country home. The man who illegally provided the information to the prosecuting team was promoted by Sérgio Moro after Jair Bolsonaro assumed the presidency and is now serving as the director of the Conselho de Controle de Atividades Financeira (COAF/ the Federal Government Financial Activities Control Board), which is responsible for investigating corruption committed by government officials – the same agency that has buried the money laundering investigation into Jair Bolsonaro’s son Flavio and Rio de Janeiro’s Escritorio do Crime militia.

This Sunday, Lula’s defense team issued a statement reaffirming that the former President is “victim of a conspiracy by public officials who worked to convict him even though he had not committed any crime – with the goal of removing him from public life and damaging his honor and reputation.” The defense lawyers Cristiano and Valeska Zanin explain that the messages revealed on this Sunday are directly related to two “clearly corrupted” trials – the cases of the triplex apartment and the Atibaia vacation home – “in which unfair convictions against Lula were made, one of them used to deprive him of his freedom through an premature administration of his sentence.”

Due to the succession of facts that have been revealed about the criminal behavior of former Judge Sérgio Moro and the public prosecutors, the Workers Party (PT), which is still the largest political party in Brazil’s Congress, recently announced plans, together with the other left of center parties, to create a Parliamentary Investigation Commission (CPI) to investigate the criminal organization created within the context of the Lava Jato investigation. According to the PT Congressional Bloc leader Paulo Pimenta, the investigation task-force transformed into a “criminal organization which hijacked an investigation to persecute adversaries, protect friends and personally enrich members of the task force.”

The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, some of who’s ministers have been compromised by the leaked Telegram messages, is scheduled to rule on Lula’s appeal but has continually delayed it. It is hard to say how long Lula will remain in jail, therefore, and his situation is further exacerbated by the fact that 35% of the population, mainly the majority white upper middle and middle classes, blinded by class hatred and years of media character assassination against the PT party, don’t seem to care if Lula is innocent our not or if his prosecutors acted corruptly to throw him in jail. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the rule of law has disintegrated so much in Brazil since the 2016 coup that even if the Supreme Court overthrows the charges against him, one wonders if the military will allow his release. Meanwhile, day in, day out, in the morning, afternoon and night, people continue to travel from all over Brazil and the world, just to yell, “Good morning, President Lula!” And from his cell in solitary confinement, he can hear them. ... -500-days/

Tell ya what, Brian Mier does a good job keeping us somewhat informed on affairs in Brazil but if Lula, Dilma or somebody else got to the point of nationalizing major enterprise he would turn on them like a rabid wolverine.
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Re: Brazil

Post by blindpig » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:33 am

Brazil harshly rejects G7 aid offer to fight Amazon fires
Tue Aug 27, 2019 07:10AM [Updated: Tue Aug 27, 2019 07:50AM ]

An aerial photo released by Greenpeace shows smoke billowing from fires in the forest in the Amazon biome in the municipality of Altamira, Para State, Brazil, on August 23, 2019. (Via AFP)

The Brazilian government has inhospitably rejected a 20-million-dollar aid package offered by the Group of Seven (G7) countries to help fight raging fires in the Brazilian Amazon forest.

“We appreciate it (the offer), but maybe those resources would be put to better use reforesting Europe,” said Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, during an interview with the local Globo TV news network on Monday.

The aid proposal was announced at the G7 summit that was recently hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in France’s Biarritz.

“Macron can’t even prevent a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site,” Lorenzoni said, referring to the fire that partially damages the historical Notre-Dame cathedral in April. “What does he want to teach our country? He has plenty to take care of at home and in the French colonies.”

He said Macron’s “objective” might be “colonialism and imperialism.”

“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Lorenzoni said.

​A file photo of French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019 (by AFP)
Lorenzoni’s remarks, however, contradicted an earlier reaction to the aid offer by Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who told reporters the country would welcome the funds from the G7.

According to local reports, following Salles’ statement accepting the G7 aid, a meeting was called between Bolsonaro and his ministers that led to a change of course by the Brazilian government.

Brazil welcomes Tel Aviv regime’s aid offer

This is while Brazil has accepted help from the Israeli regime, which offered to dispatch an aircraft, according to AFP.

Tensions between Paris and Brasilia intensified after Macron tweeted that the wildfires raging in the Amazon basin amounted to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority at the G7 summit. Bolsonaro then reacted by slamming his French counterpart for having a “colonialist mentality.”

Hundreds of new fires erupt

The development came while the Brazilian government has faced protests, including abroad, over its inability to prevent and extinguish the fire. After taking office, Bolsonaro lifted restrictions on land clearing, a move that has been blamed for the quick spread of the fires.

Hundreds of new fires flared up in the Amazon on Sunday and Monday, even as military aircraft dumped water over hard-hit areas.

A mere two C-130 Hercules aircraft began extinguishing fires destroying large swaths of the world’s largest rain forest on Sunday.

The Amazon rainforest is regarded as key to keeping climate change in check.
PressTV-Brazil ramps up fight on Amazon fires, new blazes ignite
Brazil has deployed two Hercules C-130 aircraft to douse fires devouring parts of the Amazon rainforest, as hundreds of new blazes were ignited.
Some 1,113 new fires were ignited on Saturday and Sunday, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research announced on Monday.

Smoke choked Porto Velho City and forced the closure of the airport for nearly two hours.

Fires raged in the northwestern state of Rondonia, where fire-fighting efforts are concentrated.

Experts say rising land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has prompted the recurring problem this year.

Bolsonaro has ordered a probe into reports that rural producers in the northern state of Para held a “day of fire” on August 10 in a show of support for the far-right leader’s policies to weaken environmental protection monitoring.

Brazil’s defense chief claims fires ‘under control’

Moreover, Brazil’s Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva claimed on Monday after meeting with the president that the fires in the Amazon were “under control.”

“It has been exaggerated a little that the situation was out of control — it wasn’t,” he said. “The situation isn’t simple but it is under control.”

Seven Brazilian states, including Rondonia, have called for the Brazilian army’s help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops have been deployed to combat the fires.

1000s protest Amazon destruction as Bolsonaro’s approval rating sinks

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent days across Brazil and Europe to deplore the destruction.
PressTV-World urges action as Bolsonaro lets fire devour Amazon
World leaders and protesters across the world call on Brazil's President Bolsonaro to take action against massive fires burning in the Amazon rainforest.
And the results of a survey conducted in the past four days pointed to a sharp rise in Bolsonaro’s disapproval rating, to 53.7 percent from 28.2 percent in February, according to MDA Research. Only 41 percent approved of his performance, down from 57.5 percent.

The latest official figures show 80,626 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since at least 2013. ... -Bolsonaro
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Re: Brazil

Post by blindpig » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:53 pm

The Amazon’s Neocolonial Problem

There is a left argument for Brazilian sovereignty that should never need to be made.

The 2019 G7 summit in Biarritz unnecessarily handed Brazil’s Neofascist Bolsonaro a propaganda coup with which to rally his dwindling support. With his approval falling to record lows and facing international attacks of unprecedented intensity, their colonial-sounding rhetoric allowed him to appear heroically nationalistic, a defender of Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon, when in reality he and his government are fully geared to serve the interests of foreign capital in true comprador tradition.

Jair Bolsonaro is effectively the G7’s guy. He and his Chicago School Economy minister Paulo Guedes are implementing an ultra-neoliberal economic platform on which Brazil is sold off for the price of a Banana. There should be no doubt about who the practical rather than rhetorical defenders of sovereignty are on the political spectrum.

Former PCdoB Senator Vanessa Grazziotin took aim at Bolsonaro on social media following the G7 summit:

“Our Sovereignty over the AMAZON is NON-NEGOTIABLE. To defend it is to have the responsibility to take care of it and ensure its sustainable development, which does not mean weakening Ibama (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), encouraging burning and disrespecting our scientists.”

Yet here we are, and a President whom NATO powers helped come to office via their support for the coup against Dilma Rousseff and imprisonment of Lula da Silva, has returned the favour, with an opportunity for their corporations to exploit Brazil to an extent not seen since the colonial era as depicted in Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, and near future as envisaged by the subjects of Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennett’s Thy will be done.

The G7’s cursory offer of $22 million US dollars is not money that Brazil actually needs, the country has $370 billion in reserves. The key failure of this thinking is the notion that the Amazon fires are some kind of tragic accident. It is not through oversight, incompetence or “failure to act” that the rainforest is in flames, it is a deliberate, planned and genocidal deforestation strategy, from which G7 companies are themselves in line to benefit.

A leaked presentation by Washington DC lobbyists close to the Trump administration shows US companies being recruited to exploit the Amazon, from the Mining, Agribusiness and Gas/Chemical industries. A myriad of G7-based companies are already directly benefitting from the far-right Brazilian Government’s policies. Justin Trudeau will be unlikely to mention the Brazilian operations of Canada’s notorious Mining sector, and from the United States – Cargill, Monsanto, Boeing, Chevron, Exxon Mobil have all gained enormously from the post-Coup governments of Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro. There is even talk from Paulo Guedes to merge Banco do Brasil with Bank of America.

Scepticism over the G7’s rhetoric is unfortunately well founded. The idea of selling off tracts of the Brazilian Amazon to corporations for its own protection (note that the proposed G7 initiatives specify the Brazilian Amazon rather than the entire Amazon rainforest) emerged in 2006. Then UK Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair, David Milliband, addressed an environmental conference in Mexico and effectively proposed a corporate-led internationalisation of the rainforest.

Mr Miliband said: “Obviously there are sovereignty issues but deforestation is a massive issue… and any plan, however radical, is worth looking at.”

This had its origins earlier that year, when Swedish millionaire Johan Eliasch, an environmental consultant to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and former deputy treasurer of the UK Conservative Party, had bought 400,000 acres of Brazilian rainforest for £8m pounds (which has greatly increased in value since). Off the back of this initiative, Eliasch founded the organisation “Cool Earth” with the objective of finding buyers for tracts of Amazon land. This dovetailed with the concept of carbon credit, where companies buy areas of forest to offset their emissions elsewhere. (His company Gethal was later fined by environmental agency Ibama for illegal logging and use of land). In an article in the Sunday Times, Maurice Chittenden wrote: “Eliasch is part of a growing trend towards ‘green colonialism’. Rich people with chequebooks instead of pith helmets, charities and trusts, who are buying vast swathes of the Third World or ‘renting’ the timber rights to stop trees being cut down. It is a breakaway from the methods that have characterised the international conservation movement for the past 50 years.”

Eliasch was quoted as saying: “In theory you can perhaps buy the Amazon for $50 billion.”

It was this line that caused discomfort within the Lula government, and understandably so. Worse still, they had not even been consulted on the proposal beforehand. Back then there were legal limitations on foreign ownership of Brazilian land. Bolsonaro’s Government moved immediately abolish them during his first months in office.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald posted on Twitter: “one valid grievance the Brazilian Right has about the Amazon is anger over other countries – the US and in Western Europe – who already developed industrially & are destroying the planet, now demanding Brazil save them by not exploiting its own internal resources.”

But hostility to meddling Foreign Governments and NGOs is not confined to Brazil’s conservatives. The developmentalist left echo many of these sentiments for different reasons. They believe that the G7 do not want Brazil to develop and wish it to remain an exporter of cheap commodities – a glorified plantation economy. Thus Amazonian nationalism spans political boundaries. In 2010 Lula criticised demonstrations promoted by Greenpeace and Avatar director James Cameron against the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam project, as green colonialism – a gringo protest intended to hurt the electoral campaign of his successor Dilma Rousseff. The fall in deforestation under Lula’s Workers Party was lauded internationally as a success story, yet the standoff with Greenpeace continued, and they began to campaign on non-environmental issues under Dilma Rousseff’s first mandate. This even extended to bringing activists from the US to give lectures on innovative protest strategies during the 2014 election year. The road to Bolsonaro was paved with good intentions.

The history of foreign ambitions for the Brazilian Amazon and its riches is well documented.

In 1927, Henry Ford, then the richest man in the world, bought a large tract of land, around 12,000 km², in the state of Para, deep within Brasil’s Amazon Rainforest. Greg Grandin’s excellent book on the subject depicts one man’s deluded attempt to enforce his will on the natural world. Fordlândia, as the settlement was named, quickly became the site of a struggle between an industrialist and the most complex ecological system on the planet.

Ford’s early successes in imposing routine and even American midwestern culture such as square dances on indigenous workers made way as it slowly transformed into a raucous “tropical boomtown” before falling into abandon.

Around a decade ago, a mocked up page purporting to be from US high-school textbook showed a map which labeled the Amazon as an internationally administrated area. This spread around Brazil on the social network of the day Orkut, and was never completely debunked, returning zombie-like every few years to circulate on newer platforms. For native English speakers, its spelling mistakes and strange diction left no doubt that it was fake, but the real question was: did it actually reflect international opinion?

Such “Internationalisation of the Amazon” is being depicted now as a military dictatorship-era fantasy, now revived by Bolsonaro in a desperate answer to foreign outrage over the rainforest.

The problem is that this type of Amazonian nationalist sentiment has at its core an awareness of very real historic and ongoing designs on the region’s resources which it is naive to ignore, and a “resource nationalism” abhorred by the State Department and Wall Street.

This August 2009 State Department cable, a scene-setter for National Security Adviser General James Jones’ visit acknowledges Anti-US sentiment amongst Brazilians ahead of the 2010 elections:

“A small segment of the Brazilian public, including the elite, accepts the notion that the United States has a campaign to subjugate Brazil economically, undermine it culturally, and militarily occupy the Amazon. Such attitudes and beliefs have influenced Brazilian reporting and commentary on issues such as the reestablishment of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet (which has been characterized as a threat to Brazil’s offshore pre-salt finds) and U.S. activities in the Amazon.”

Thus the problem is not genuine concern over the sovereignty of the Brazilian Amazon, it is the identities of who are now talking about it. To make a defence of Brazilian sovereignty in the current context you could appear in alignment with those with whom you oppose politically and morally, thus few are. But it must be made.

A few weeks before the Amazon fires exploded onto every front page and news network around the world, Foreign policy magazine, which had previously run columns normalising Bolsonaro and insisting that he represented no threat to Brazil or its democracy, published an article by Stephen M. Walt headlined: “Who will invade Brazil to save the Amazon?”.

“Aug. 5, 2025: In a televised address to the nation, U.S. President Gavin Newsom announced that he had given Brazil a one-week ultimatum to cease destructive deforestation activities in the Amazon rainforest. If Brazil did not comply, the president warned, he would order a naval blockade of Brazilian ports and airstrikes against critical Brazilian infrastructure.”

The normalisation of these fantasies have at the very least revived a notion that “Brazil cannot be trusted as guardians of the Amazon”, and this trope now re-emerges in countries which actually, even actively supported the torching of Brazilian democracy. Right now, as the Amazon burns, progressive Democratic Members of Congress have requested clarification from the US Department of Justice’s on its role in Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power.

In essence, do we really trust those who did nothing to help Brazil defend its democracy from fascism, foreign governments in the service of extractive corporations, or their think-tank lackeys, to protect the Amazon and its peoples?

Instead, this wave of indignation and fear around the world should be channeled into helping the inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest and progressive Brazilians defend it themselves. To do this we must support their struggle to root out and extinguish the political cause of this catastrophe. ... l-problem/
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Re: Brazil

Post by blindpig » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:50 pm

Brazilian Academics: 2019 Amazon fires are not “normal”
A group of Brazilian academics based in Sweden debunk media and governmental claims that the 2019 Amazonian fires are a “normal” seasonal event.

Brazil is currently facing worldwide attention due the fires in the Amazon rainforest. After an extremely polarized 2018’s electoral race which culminates in election of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian society is deeply divided between its critics and supporters. In this scenario, any event or news that possibly may affect Bolsonaro politically, is relativized and normalized by his supporters, aiming to minimize or neutralize criticism.

However, given Amazon rainforest’s global importance, should we be worried? Are the fires in the Amazon forest an exceptional event or are they a natural occurrence that are being used to attack Bolsonaro’s government, as many of his supporters argue?

An unbiased view supported by data from satellites clearly shows that fires in the Amazon rainforest have increased compared to last year’s monitoring and that the extent of the fires is much higher, when compared to equivalent periods in previous years.The fires in Amazon are directly linked to deforestation and the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE), which monitors deforestation and forest fires using satellites, released data showing an increase in deforestation of 90.7 June this year, and 277.9% for July, when compared to the same periods in 2018.

The number of fires identified by the agency in the Amazon region so far this year is 58,814, about 104% higher than the average for the first eight months of 2018, and is about 34% higher than the average for the first eight months of each year, since 2010. The number of fires identified by satellite in the Amazon so far this month is the highest since 2010, when climate phenomenon El Niño caused a severe drought (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Temporal analysis of fire spots in Brazilian Amazon. The numbers for 2019 are 104% higher than the same period of 2018, and is about 34% higher than the average for the first eight months of each year, since 2010.

These alarming numbers should give strong reasons for Brazilian government to take actions in order to prevent the expansion of fires and consequent deforestation. However president Bolsonaro has publicly discredited the accuracy of INPE’s reports and promptly fired the director of the Institute last July, physicist Ricardo Galvão, a renowned scientist with a strong international reputation. Data produced by INPE is widely used by several Brazilian institutions such as IBAMA, IBCBio and other regulatory agencies as well as NGOs that depend on this information to carry-out their work on the ground. Moreover, data about monitoring Amazon are freely available at INPE’s webpage, which means that anyone around the world is assess the extent of deforestation in real time. Bolsonaro’s attitude denying the accuracy of data from Brazilian governmental agencies followed by the dismissal of INPE’s director shocked the whole academic community in Brazil.

It is one of several instances this year when the government has systematically accused academic community of ideological manipulation in order to garner public support for the deregulation of environmental governance.The discussions about these events were at the time of Dr. Galvão’s ousting mostly restricted to academic circles , with not much appeal to public opinion. However, when the smoke from the fires in the Amazon traveled south about 2,790 km and reached the largest city in Brazil, São Paulo, transforming a sunny afternoon into a dark evening at 3 pm, people began to get a better idea about the severity of situation of fires in the Amazon rainforest (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Satellite image showing aerosol dispersion in South America: The heatmap shown biomass aerosol transportation in the air (red) from Amazon area towards southeast in Brazil. As a consequence, around 3:00 p.m. the sky suddenly blackened, and day became night in São Paulo.
This is the equivalent distance between Stockholm and Crete, in Greece. While darkness at 3 pm may sound quite normal in winter time in Sweden, it is something unthinkable in a tropical country like Brazil. Swedes from an older generation may well remember the acid rains that travelled from Chernobyl towards Scandinavia in the 1980s.

As an immediate consequence, data about the fires produced by government agencies was placed at the core of passionate debates in Brazil, mainly due seasonal nature of fire events, which in our opinion aims to both normalize or relativize the scenario.Such news reporting buys into Bolsonaro’s argument that allegedly seasonal fires are being used to negatively affect his government, thus shifting the focus of the debate from the gravity of fires and its consequences to nature and human health.

However, scientific data from satellites does not support this hypothesis. In addition, the gravity of such fire events in the Amazon rainforest has been confirmed by other international aerospace agencies, including NASA (1).

Later, we learned that the fires were caused by a coordinated action by illegal loggers and farmers called the “Fire Day” on August 10th. This group, organized through the messaging app Whatsapp, had warned the government about their intention to set fire to the forest. They were motivated by the President’s statements supporting the deforestation of Amazon to promote the economic development of the region.

The Amazon rainforest contains about 40% of the world’s remaining tropical rainforest, covering 5.5 million km2, corresponding to 61% of the area of Brazil, stretching over to neighboring countries of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana. It is the largest and most species-rich biome of the planet. The continental expanse of the Amazon basin is about 22% larger than the entire European Union.

Thus, it is not very difficult to understand that this region plays a vital role in maintaining biodiversity, climate equilibrium, terrestrial and underground carbon storage. Adding even more complexity to scenario, biomass burning emits significant quantities of known pollutants hazardous to health, including several compounds able to induce DNA damage and genetic mutations. These mutations accumulated over the years may generate cancer.

Several studies conducted by Brazilian scientists indicate that the population is potentially exposed to an increased risk for lung cancer and other diseases (2-5). Depending on the intensity and frequency of exposure to biomass of burning pollutants, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, premature mortality, and adverse birth outcomes, may occur. (6)

While it is early to evaluate if fires in Amazon will continue over the next months, the lack of practical actions by Bolsonaro’s government and its disregard for scientific evidence are enough to set off the alarms about the future of the Amazon.

Marcos Felipe de Oliveira Galvão. PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher, Karolinska Institutet

Isabel Löfgren. PhD
Lektor i medie-och kommunikationsvetenskap, Södertörns högskola

Paola Sartoretto, PhD. Associated Researcher, Stockholm University

Marcelo F. Montenegro. PhD
Senior Researcher, Karolinska Institutet

(1) ... a-in-smoke
(2) de Oliveira Galvão, M.F., et al., 2018. Biomass burning particles in the Brazilian Amazon region: Mutagenic effects of nitro and oxy-PAHs and assessment of health risks. Environ. Pollut. 233, 960–970.
(3) de Oliveira Alves, et al., 2017. Biomass burning in the Amazon region causes DNA damage and cell death in human lung cells. Sci. Rep. 7, 10937.
(4) de Oliveira Alves, et al., 2015. Biomass burning in the Amazon region: Aerosol source apportionment and associated health risk assessment. Atmos. Environ. 120, 277–285.
(5) de Oliveira Alves, N., et al., 2014. Genetic damage of organic matter in the Brazilian Amazon: A comparative study between intense and moderate biomass burning. Environ. Res. 130, 51–58.
(6) International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2013b. IARC Scientific Publication No. 161. In: Straif, K., Cohen, A., Samet, J. (Eds.), Air Pollution and Cancer. IARC, Lyon, France, 2013. ... ot-normal/
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Re: Brazil

Post by blindpig » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:06 pm

Rondonization: World Bank, Dictatorship and the Amazon
The development philosophy behind the fires in the Amazon is based on the World Bank funded, Dictatorship era Polonoroeste project, which killed thousands and devastated Rondonia’s rainforest. To Bolsonaro and his military aids, there was nothing wrong with it.

by Brian Mier

During the 1980s a series of shocking images and films appeared of massive devastation underway in the Amazonian state of Rondonia. There, an area of old growth rainforest roughly equivalent to the size of Great Britain was being ripped down at record rate. As the fires generated huge smoke clouds, thousands of indigenous people who had been living in the forest died off at the hands of the ranchers and farmers, gunned down, poisoned or deliberately infected with smallpox.

This devastation, portrayed in landmark documentaries such as “Decade of Destruction” by Adrian Cowell, was being financed by the World Bank, who had convinced the unelected, authoritarian Brazilian Military dictatorship that ripping down a large part of the rainforest would be good for the economy. The result of this partnership was the notorious, 1981, Polonoroeste project. With Polonoroeste, the World Bank lent around $440 million (around $1 billion) to and provided technical support for an authoritarian military dictatorship, known for committing acts of genocide against indigenous tribes in the Amazon, to pave dirt highway 364, (impassable during rainy season at the time), connect a network of service roads cutting into the rainforest for 100km on either side of the highway, and provide infrastructure for the arrival of 30,000 migrant families from Southern Brazil. Brazilian taxpayers, who had no say in the matter, would be forced to pay back the loan with interest for decades to come while neoliberal Presidents like Fernando Henrique Cardoso used Brazil’s debt as an excuse for not adequately funding the health and education systems. 0.19% of the project’s budget was allocated for environmental protection.

In the academic paper Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Robert H. Wade analyzes internal communications inside the World Bank during the implementation of Polonoroeste. Programs Division Chief Robert Skillings had been in the World Bank since 1947, and considered the project to be his final masterpiece before his retirement. In case after case, he had every bank technocrat who criticized the operationality, ethics, human rights and environmental strategies removed from the project. Many people inside the bank knew that an environmental and human rights disaster was underway, but their criticism was silenced. As international outcry grew, he replaced the director of the Brazil Department with a protege of aggressively ideological neoliberal Bank Vice President and Chief Economist Anne Kruger.

“He couldn’t understand all the fuss about Indians,” Wade writes, “he remarked. ‘They wear T shirts and sneakers just like everyone else’. He openly disparaged [his predecessor’s] work on Amerindian protection. ‘It’s all bullshit’, they heard him say.”

To the World Bank, the bottom line was that ripping down trees, just like burning petroleum, helps short term GDP growth. It still does. Treating environmental damage as an externality remains one of the biggest problems with monetarist/neoliberal economics to this day. If mid and long term environmental damage were calculated into their development models, they would collapse.

The debacle in Rondonia led to the emergence of international environmental NGOs as important players on the international stage. As a result of the failure of Polonoroeste, the World Bank began consulting NGOs on all of its future development projects in the 3rd World, although they would often give them little more than lip service.

Satellite images today show Polonoroeste’s legacy on the rainforest in Rondonia

Polonoroeste represented one of the last large scale development projects by the Military Dictatorship, which was deposed in 1985. To this day, Military officials from the time refuse to admit that it was failure. Afterall, Rondonia is now one of the nations top producers of GMO Soy and Beef for international markets, and, although these activities are low labor intensity, they make a lot of money for the big ranchers and agribusiness value chain suppliers and the international corporations who profit off of them, like Cargill, which is currently expanding its capacity to export GMO soy from its Porto Velho grain terminal from 3.5 to 6 million tons per year.

I traveled up to Rondonia during the final week of July. While I was there I learned that a group of geographers at the local federal university has coined a term to describe the Bolsonaro government’s plan for neighboring Amazonas state, which still had 98% forest cover as of 2018. They argue that the government is planning to duplicate Polonoroeste in Amazonas through a process which they call, “Rondonization”.

When Dilma Rousseff was President, Highway 319, connecting Porto Velho to Amazonas state capital Manaus, was a dirt road that was impassible during the rainy season. After the 2016 coup, Michel Temer cut funding to Ibama, the environmental protection/policing agency, by 51% and began paving highway 319. The 120 kilometer stretch of highway between Porto Velho and the Amazonas town of Humaitá, which is currently the epicenter of fires burning in Amazonas, is now paved. Before, it could take up to two days to get there from Porto Velho. Now, as the droves of international journalists swarming to the area have discovered, it is reachable in a matter of hours. The Bolsonaro government has further gutted Ibama and rendered it dysfunctional, firing the superintendents in 22 states and ordering them to halt all activities unless they are approved in Brasilia, by enemies of environmentalism connected to international agribusiness.

The government is moving forwards with paving the rest of the highway up to Manaus, and plans to lay in a network of similar service roads which, as local activist Ramon Cajui told me, work as “veins sucking everything out of the forest.”

During the time that the Military Dictatorship and World Bank worked together on the ecological and human rights tragedy of Polonoroeste, Jair Bolsonaro was an Army Captain. 16 of his cabinet ministers are retired Generals who also worked in the Dictatorship. They don’t think there was anything wrong with the project, either from an environmental or a human rights perspective. This is why they are now setting out to “Rondonize” the rest of the rainforest. ... he-amazon/
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

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