Tag Archives: Amazon rainforest

In Brazil For 30 Years, This Indian Lawyer Has Dedicated His Life To Save The Amazon Forest | Instant News


Shaji Thomas, a Keralite who landed in Brazil in 1989 on a scholarship, is now a football-mad citizen. In Brazil, he took a doctorate and completed three postdoctoral studies. He also has a law degree and is the only practicing lawyer from India in the South American country. He has become a major environmental activist and even lives in a houseboat on the Amazon river.

Here are some excerpts from an exclusive interview with IANS:

You have been a citizen of Brazil for 30 years now. What do you think about this country?

I came to Sao Paulo at the end of 1989 under an overseas training program. When I came here, the country was shaken by high inflation (more than 5,000 percent per year). Although the country is extraordinarily rich, the level of corruption is also high. The right-wing government, which has ruled for years, favors the rich class. Brazil is three times the size of India and contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest. The gap between the rich and the poor is very clear in Brazil.

The political situation here changed in 2004, when the Left government under Luiz Inacio Lula was elected president of the country. In fact, under his rule, the country witnessed many changes and millions of people emerged from poverty. Social movements also strengthened under his rule. But at the same time, political alliances with the right pushed the country back into poverty and then the government changed. After Lula, the Left government was weak and the right-wing movement gained momentum. This led to the impeachment of Left President Dilma Roussef and criminal conviction of former President Lula.

In 2018, a far-right government was elected under the leadership of Bolsanaro, a former soldier. Poverty increased under his rule.

The Amazon forest is the main reason for the global environmental balance. You have been active in protecting the Amazon and its forests. Tell us about this movement.

As soon as I came to Brazil, I had a wonderful social experience with landless / homeless people living here and seeing other social movements here. I also visited the Amazon in 1990 for the first time and had the opportunity to live with the traditional tribal people there. Amazon’s vast forests and natural resources have attracted large numbers of people from all over the world. Apart from squatters and logging companies, there are large mining companies and drug dealers on the Amazon.

The pressure of Amazon economic exploration and forest protection always creates conflict and a number of social and environmental activists have lost their lives in the conflict. There are more than 3,000 tribal communities (red Indians) and communities of African origin in the forest and these people are very dependent on forest resources. Also, there are hundreds of towns and cities on the banks of the Amazon River and its tributaries. Since 1950, there has been a massive shift to the Amazon organized by the military government that has opened up forest roads.

After the 1988 military rule, there was a change in the conception of the Amazon forest, but conflicts still occur between many groups. When the Left government came to power, the Amazon was under strong protection but in the new regime, illegal occupation increased.

After reaching Brazil, you have struggled because of the language barrier. How do you handle it?

I didn’t know about Brazilian Portuguese when I arrived in Brazil. The Brazilian greeted me with “Bom dia” (good morning) after I reached Sao Paulo. I don’t know about the language and culture.

A Japanese teacher gave me initial Portuguese classes but most of the language I learned was through my daily interactions with local people here. After two years of my local experience, I have now succeeded in understanding and writing Portuguese and I am starting my graduation in theology at a university in Sao Paulo.

The current president of Brazil is not taking Covid seriously, he has also permitted the cutting of trees in the Amazon. Has this country turned itself into a banana republic?

President Bolsonaro is deeply influenced by the ideology of former American president Trump. With extreme right ideology and support of fascist ideas, he became a negationist in science. He is promoting Cloroquine treatment for Covid-19 and he has been very inactive in supporting the Brazilian vaccine for Covid.

With his administration, most environmental laws were changed, and Amazon monitoring was at its lowest level. The burning of the Amazon forest has increased and in the last year we lost about 15,000 square km of the Amazon forest due to mining, timber traffic, agro-industrial use. Less than 5 percent of environmental fines are paid in his government. The real Minister of the Environment is supported exclusively by landlords and big companies who are very interested in exploring the Amazon. During lockdown and pandemic situations, Amazon’s damage increases. The government is also trying to weaken social and environmental movements in the Amazon region by cutting economic and political support. Most of the funding for research work on the Amazon has also been withdrawn by the government.

You have been involved in environmental conservation since childhood, then who is your inspiration?

I was born to a farming family who owns a lot of land and lives in the middle of a village in Ramapuram, Palai in the Kottayam district. My uncle lived a high distance and I used to go to that area during my childhood. My father is a local politician and social worker with a passion for environmental protection. He is a great inspiration to me. But when I graduated at Mysore university, I developed a great interest in the Amazon jungle and always dreamed of visiting there. As soon as I reached Brazil, I visited Amazon. My first visit to the Amazon was very inspiring because I was able to live with the tribal and river communities in the Amazon. So, as soon as I finished my studies in Sao Paulo, I chose to work for Amazon.

What are the chances of the current Brazilian government retaining power?

The government is losing support due to its inaction over the Covid-19 pandemic, despite enjoying 35 percent support. The death toll has reached more than two lakhs and is one of the few countries that started vaccinations recently. The economic situation is also not in favor of the government with a high inflation rate. The lack of public policies for environmental and health issues has drained public support for the government. Many ministers are associated with military personnel. In addition, changes in government in the US have a clear effect on the country’s upcoming elections. People are disillusioned by the current government and its disastrous social, environmental and economic policies.

What is your main activity in Brazil?

Until 2008, I frequently visited tribal and local communities in Para state, in the Amazon, while working with social justice. During these years, I traveled hundreds of kilometers in the Amazon by road and river and even lived in houseboats on the Amazon river for many years.

Since 2008, I started studying law and in 2013 passed the bar exam in Brazil. I am the only person from India who is a lawyer in Brazil. At the same time, while studying law, I earned a Masters in the Environment and a PhD in sustainable development. I also started research on natural resource governance and local community participation.

In the last six years, I conducted three post-doctoral studies on the effects of climate change and its impact on natural resource governance in the Amazon. My five books on climate change, natural resource governance, environmental law, etc. Also published. Apart from my research, I also provide judicial assistance to local communities on land and environmental issues. I also participate in the biodiversity community in Guiana Shield which includes eight countries that share the Amazon.

I have been part of seminars on social and environmental issues at universities in South America and other countries. This month, I moved to a city in the heart of the Amazon jungle and the banks of the Amazon River. I chose this to be close to the local people and support their fight for their rights. There are many land and environmental conflicts in the Amazon and local and indigenous communities are suffering from this. On the one hand, we have accelerated the destruction of the Amazon forest due to mining, land grabbing, timber exports, soybean plantations, livestock grazing, etc. And on the other hand, we experience the social destruction of the tribal people whose land and resources are used. by the invaders.

As an activist, academic, and lawyer, what do you think about the unpleasant problems that arise with environmental protection?

As an environmental activist and scientist, I believe that humanity can only be saved by saving our nature. I did extensive climate research and I can affirm that the adverse effects of climate change and the destruction of our planet are man-made and if we don’t change our attitudes and actions we are digging our own graves. We cannot save our nature without the effective participation of local communities and we need more pro-environment public policies. Fascist governments only side with capitalists and we don’t have a balance between destruction and resilience. The Amazon forest’s auto resilience capacity is at the edge and we need urgent intervention to protect the forest and its inhabitants.

Will the new democratic government in the US help the global environment?

We need a new democratic government where people can have effective participation in decision making. We need investment in innovation and technology with the participation of local wisdom of traditional communities. Despite efforts to address environmental concerns globally, a lack of initiative in countries such as Brazil and the US has undermined these efforts.

As an environmental and social activist, I’ve decided to dedicate my life to the Amazon and its local people, generating knowledge and sharing it. I know I had to face a lot of challenges while doing it, but my belief that we need Amazon is much stronger than any challenge.

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Brazilian Indigenous Leader Sues President Jair Bolsonaro for Crimes Against Humanity | Instant News


Two of Brazil’s most influential and well-known Indigenous leaders filed international lawsuits this week against the country’s leaders, alleging right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies towards Indigenous and tribal peoples. Amazon rainforest is a crime against humanity.

Commander of the Raoni Metuktire, Leader of the Kayapo Tribe, and Chairman of the Almir Tribe Narayamoga Surui, Leader of the Paiter Surui Tribe, filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday.

The lawsuit points to increased rates of deforestation in the Amazon, increased killings of Indigenous Brazilian leaders, and the Bolsonaro government’s efforts to strip protection of rainforests and tribal lands, policies that Indigenous leaders say aim to “exploit Amazon’s natural resources and undermine indigenous peoples’ rights.” to promote the industry. ”

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was already increasing when Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, but that figure continues to soar, and record a fire outbreak in the region over the past two years has drawn global attention to Bolsonaro’s efforts roll back environmental protection and revamp Brazil’s environmental regulatory agency. More than 2.7 million acres of the Amazon removed in 2020, according to Brazilian government data, the highest total in 12 years.

Ecocides at this level of intensity should be considered crimes against humanity.
William Bourdon, attorney for Chief Raoni and Almir

A longtime human rights and environmental activist, Chief Raoni has emerged as the leader of the Indigenous resistance against Bolsonaro, who has been warned by tribal leaders of threatening their people with genocide. Raoni, who is 89 years old tested positive for COVID-19 in August (months after Indigenous leaders argued that the Bolsonaro government’s sluggish response to the pandemic was leaving them very vulnerable), last year said that Bolsonaro worst president of the 24 Brazilian leaders who have served during his lifetime.

The lawsuit does not warrant an investigation into Bolsonaro but calls for the court’s prosecutor to conduct an investigation into his claim. It will likely take weeks before a court makes a decision on whether an investigation is justified.

If the ICC follows through, the complaint against Bolsonaro could have an impact far beyond Brazil: The lawyers behind the case say it could push widespread environmental damage – or ecocide – onto the list of crimes the ICC recognizes as prosecutable under international law.

William Bourdon, the French lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of Chief Raoni, pointed to a long-held belief among some international lawyers that environmental destruction should be considered a crime against humanity, the argument intensified as the global war against climate change is becoming increasingly urgent. (ICC founder charter originally incorporated the ecocide as a crime, but later deleted.)

“Ecocides at this level of intensity should be considered crimes against humanity,” Bourdon told HuffPost.

Even if the ICC does not accept that argument, the complaint asserts that Bolsonaro’s actions against Brazil’s Indigenous tribes and laws intended to protect them qualify as crimes against humanity.


AP / Francisco Seco’s Photo, Files

Chief Raoni Metuktire, center front, takes part in a climate parade in Brussels on 17 May 2019. The activist has become a symbol of the fight for Indigenous rights and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest.

During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro advocated stripping protection of customary land, guaranteed in the state constitution, to open up the Amazon and tribal reserves to agribusiness, mining and other industrial interests. As president, he has kept that promise, removing control of customary land from FUNAI, Brazil’s Indigenous affairs agency, and placing it under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Indigenous leaders argue that this lax protection has led to a dramatic spike in raids on tribal land and an increase in attacks on indigenous peoples. The killings of indigenous leaders rose to the highest level in more than a decade in 2019, the lawsuit filed this week asserted. In the same year, the invasion of indigenous lands increased by 135%, according to the Indigenous Brazilian Missionary Council. Meanwhile, Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency issued fines for at least two decades in 2019, even as deforestation spiked.

The suit also asserts that Bolsonaro’s fires and refusal to restrict new Indigenous territories have forced people to leave their tribal lands and accuse the Brazilian president of mistreating environmental activists and NGOs, scientists and indigenous peoples.

Bolsonaro has faced constant opposition from Indigenous leaders during his presidency. In 2019, tribal activists traveled to New York to protest Bolsonaro’s policies at the General Assembly of the United Nations, which took place in the middle of a fire outbreak which engulfs the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous leaders have also struggled to block Bolsonaro’s policies and some of his appointments to the main bodies overseeing tribal affairs.

Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the country, tribes tried to stop appointing former Christian missionaries to head a body that deals with the isolated and unreached Amazonian tribe – an extension of the an ongoing fight to prevent missionaries from contacting isolated persons who have little or no known contact with the outside world.

Bolsonaro continued his efforts to undermine environmental protection and Indigenous people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in late April, Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles suggested that right-wing governments should use the pandemic as a cover to “simplify regulation at scale” and “run the herd” through the Amazon.

Number of forest fires soaring again in 2020, but the Bolsonaro government’s 2021 budget proposal cut funding for environmental protection and fire prevention by 27%, the São Paulo-based Observatório do Clima, a coalition of Brazilian civil society groups, said in a report released Friday. The government budget seeks to set funding for Brazil’s environment ministry at the lowest overall level in more than two decades, the report said.

“The report shows that, in the last two years, the environmental and climate agenda in Brazil has suffered an unimaginable setback on a frightening scale,” said Marcio Astrini, executive director of Observatório do Clima, in the release accompanying the report. “Bolsonaro adopts environmental destruction as a policy … he is directly responsible for increasing fires, deforestation and national emissions.”

“The situation is dramatic,” Astrini said, “because the federal government, which is the only entity that can provide a solution to this scenario, is now the main cause of the problem.”

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Japan, Brazil signed an agreement for Amazon biodiversity | Instant News


ANKARA

Japan and Brazil have signed a deal to protect the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, according to Kyodo News.

During a visit to Brazil, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Brazilian counterpart Ernest Araujo agreed late Friday to coordinate in the areas of the digital economy and environmental protection, Kyodo reported.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding on the protection of the Amazon rainforest’s biodiversity.

Motegi was also received by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. During their talks, they discussed ways to increase bilateral trade investment, also confirming “plans to improve the business environment to promote investment of Japanese companies in the South American country.”

Motegi also has Bolsonaro’s support for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, postponed from 2020 due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

After his tour of five Latin American countries, including Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay, Motegi is expected to visit African countries such as Kenya and Senegal.


The Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news offered to subscribers on the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and is in summary form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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Japan, Brazil signed an agreement for Amazon biodiversity | Instant News


ANKARA

Japan and Brazil have signed a deal to protect the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, according to Kyodo News.

During a visit to Brazil, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Brazilian counterpart Ernest Araujo agreed late Friday to coordinate in the areas of the digital economy and environmental protection, Kyodo reported.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding on the protection of the Amazon rainforest’s biodiversity.

Motegi was also received by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. During their talks, they discussed ways to increase bilateral trade investment, also confirming “plans to improve the business environment to promote investment of Japanese companies in the South American country.”

Motegi also has Bolsonaro’s support for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, postponed from 2020 due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

After his tour of five Latin American countries, including Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay, Motegi is expected to visit African countries such as Kenya and Senegal.


The Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news offered to subscribers on the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and is in summary form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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‘As if we learned nothing’: concerns over the Amazon road project | Living environment | Instant News


BStealth activists have raised concerns over their government’s plans to bulldoze a 94-mile highway through a corner of Amazonian biodiversity along the border with Peru that is home to at least three indigenous communities.

The planned path is an extension of BR-364, a 2,700-mile highway connecting São Paulo with the Amazon state of Acre, and will link the city of Cruzeiro do Sul with the Peruvian border city of Pucallpa.

Supporters of the “transoceanic” project, which includes the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, argued that it would boost the economy of this remote region by creating a transportation hub where agricultural products could be shipped to Pacific ports in Peru and to China.

“This project will not destroy the forest, it will bring sustainable development to the region by heating up commercial and cultural ties [with Peru], ”Said Mara Rocha, a center-right women’s congressman from Acre who supported the idea.

highway route

Rocha said the project was important for a region that felt “forgotten and invisible to the whole country”. Opponents, however, fear it could have disastrous consequences for Brazil’s environment, which has been shaken up under Bolsonaro as Amazon’s deforestation rate is soaring to the highest level in more than a decade.

A report The Estado de São Paulo newspaper said that an 80-mile (130km) stretch of pristine forest would need to be cut down to build a road, which would bypass the center of the protected Serra do Divisor national park. Experts call it the garden one of the Amazon regions with the highest biodiversity, accommodating at least 130 species of mammals and more than 400 species of birds. Brazilian lawmakers are considering plans to ease its protection in an apparent effort to speed up road construction.

Luís Puwe Puyanawa, a local adat leader who opposed the project, said: “Actually nobody in Acre needs this transoceanic route – there is already a road linking us to Peru. What we need is to let the forest stand. “

Miguel Scarcello, head of SOS Amazônia, an environmental group based in the state capital, Rio Branco, described the project as “irresponsible” and a setback to Brazil’s military dictatorship when roads where leveled through the Amazon in an attempt to fill and developing territory.








Deforestation along BR-364. Photo: UniversalImagesGroup / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

“This is an ancient and backward vision… that doesn’t pay attention to conservation at all. This will cut through the untouched forest areas and affect the very important tributary upstream of the Juruá River, ”said Scarcello.

He described how during the 1964-85 dictatorship such roads “destroyed” indigenous communities and caused “great damage” to the rainforest, as loggers used them to access previously inaccessible areas. “We are not in the 1960s anymore,” said Scarcello. “It’s as if we haven’t learned anything from the effects it can cause and how much damage it can do.”

He added: “They said it would bring construction but, as usual, it would be construction for half a dozen people,” and he warned of a “land grabbing carnival” that would accompany the planned road.





Members of the Nambikwara indigenous community block the BR-364 highway near Campo Novo do Parecis.



Members of the Nambikwara indigenous community block the BR-364 highway near Campo Novo do Parecis. Photo: Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

If the project is approved, three indigenous communities near the road will reportedly be affected: Nukini, Jaminawa and Poyanawa. Scarcello said it was possible the national park was also home to isolated tribes who had never been contacted.

Puyanawa, 41, said he feared his community would be hardest hit. “It is hoped that the road will pass within a distance of about one kilometer from our land. One of my biggest concerns is that this stretch is home to some of the most important water sources in the Amazon basin. The Alto Juruá provides all the water that flows into the Rio Solimões and then the Rio Negro, until it reaches the sea, ”he said. “All of these rivers could be severely affected and this could lead to loss of an important upstream in the Amazon. With that, many species could become extinct. “

Puyanawa said plans for such a route had been praised by politicians for decades but appeared to be accelerating since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. “Nobody wants it as much as Bolsonaro,” he said.





Highway section



The unpaved section of the “Expresso Porto” highway connects the port area to BR-364. Photo: Image by Ramesh Thadani / Getty Images

Bolsonaro has overseen the dismantling of Brazil’s highly controversial environmental protection system, causing Amazon deforestation to skyrocket, critics say. Government figures last month showed the devastation of the Amazon surged to a 12-year high, with an area seven times larger than Greater London lost between August 2019 and July 2020.

The increase was due to a feeling of impunity that the Bolsonaro presidency had brought in illegal loggers, cattle ranchers and miners looking to raise money. “They feel very comfortable,” said Carlos Rittl, a Brazilian environmentalist who works at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studying in Germany. “We are governed by people whose motto for the environment is: destruction.”

BR-364 extension, which Bolsonaro owns publicly supported as a means of giving Brazil “entry into the Pacific,” it is not the only Amazon road project that worries environmentalists and climate campaigners.

Last week, his administration said it would begin to improve BR-319, a rotting dictatorship-era highway that cuts north to south through the Amazon from Manaus to Porto Velho. “A historic day in the north!” Bolsonaro wrote on Facebook, announcing the news.

But on recent essaysProf Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at the National Institute for Research in the Brazilian Amazon, said reviving BR-319, which had been abandoned since the late 1980s, “would give deforesters access to about half of what is left of the country’s Amazon rainforest. it “and is” certainly among the most important decisions facing Brazil today “.

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