Brazil 2019

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Brazil 2016-18

The Amazon Fires Are More Dangerous Than WMDs
One person shouldn’t have the power to set policies that doom the rest of humanity’s shot at mitigating rising temperatures.
(The Atlantic) When Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election last year, having run on a platform of deforestation, David Wallace-Wells asked, “How much damage can one person do to the planet?” Bolsonaro didn’t pour lighter fluid to ignite the flames now ravaging the Amazon, but with his policies and rhetoric, he might as well have. The destruction he inspired—and allowed to rage with his days of stubborn unwillingness to douse the flames—has placed the planet at a hinge moment in its ecological history. Unfortunately, the planet doesn’t have a clue about how it should respond.
In part, the problem is the dismal state of international institutions, which haven’t been so tattered since World War II. In the face of global critics begging Bolsonaro to stop the destruction of the Amazon, he shouts about the threats to Brazil’s sovereignty. For that complaint to land, he would need democratic legitimacy, and this revanchist has none; yet those critics do nothing more than sputter inconsequential rage.
It is commonplace to describe the Amazon as the “world’s lungs.” Embedded in the metaphor is the sense that inherited ideas about the sovereignty of states no longer hold in the face of climate change. If the smoke clouds drifted only so far as the skies of São Paulo, other nations might be able to shrug off the problem as belonging to someone else.

10 September
Brazilian Official Who Fought to Protect the Amazon ‘Assassinated’ in Front of His Family
Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was shot twice in the head on Friday while riding a motorbike through the Amazon
Santos worked for a Brazilian government agency called the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), which is tasked with protecting the land and interests of the indigenous people. The INA, a union that represents workers for the agency, said that Santos was killed in retaliation for his work at the Vale do Javari reservation, according to the Telegraph.
Santos was the chief of environmental services at the Vale do Javari reservation for over five years, and was essentially the head of the local enforcement authority that patrolled the area to protect native tribes from violent groups of raiders that frequently attack tribes so their land can be taken for development.

4 September
Bloomberg: Those who criticize Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to make his son ambassador to the U.S. are “envious of the access” he would have in Washington, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo says. He told Samy Adghirni in an interview that Trump knows very few ambassadors by their first name — so the fact the U.S. president met over the weekend with Eduardo Bolsonaro is proof of the special treatment he’d receive.

30 August
Loggers are lighting fires inside the territory of uncontacted Amazon tribes
(Quartz) This has happened during every dry season in recent years, fragmenting the tribe’s reserved land piece by piece, according to Survival International, an organization dedicated to protecting forest people. Loggers enter the Awá’s territory and light fires to burn the underbrush, so they can more easily access and fell the large, old-growth hardwood trees.

27 August
Brazil Angrily Rejects Millions in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7, Then Accepts British Aid
(NYT) Hours after leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business — only to later lay out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance and then, on Tuesday evening, accepting some aid from Britain.
For Mr. Bolsonaro, who has governed as a far-right populist stoking nationalist sentiment, the defiant rebuff of the G7 aid played well to his base. But an outright rejection of any outside help might also have undermined the nation’s efforts to control the fires, possibly further eroding Mr. Bolsonaro’s plummeting popularity.
Mr. Bolsonaro is facing his own problems at home, where approval of his government has plummeted: 39.5 percent of Brazilians evaluate it as bad or terrible, up from 19 percent in February, according to a poll by MDA/CNT, which conducted the survey between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25.
Approval of the president’s personal performance has also dropped substantially, according to the same poll, with 53.7 percent of Brazilians evaluating it as bad or terrible, up from 28.2 in February.
Despite the widespread attention to the fires in the Amazon, the Bolsonaro administration was rated worst in its management of the health sector. The environment was rated second-worst.

Brazil to reject G7 aid after Bolsonaro rages at ‘colonialist’ leaders
(The Independent) Brazilian officials say the government will reject more than $22m (£18m) pledged at the G7 summit in Biarritz to help fight raging Amazon wildfires.
Brazil did not immediately provide a reason for refusing the money, but its president Jair Bolsonaro has previously accused Mr Macron of adopting a “colonialist” mindset at the summit of leading developed nations in France.
Mr Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the G1 news website that “we appreciate [the offer], but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe”.
Brazil’s environment minister had initially welcomed the offer of funds from the G7, as well as a separate £10m pledge from the UK and £9m from Canada.
Other groups have also offered support for the Earth’s largest greenhouse gas sink. Earth Alliance, a new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, is pledging $5 million in aid, saying the Amazon is one of the “best defences” against climate change.
It appears the change of heart came after Mr Bolsonaro met with his ministers late on Monday. The Brazilian president, who previously claimed without evidence that NGOs may have started the fires in order to discredit his government, suggested the West was trying to gain access to his country’s natural resources.

26 August
Amazon fires: Brazil’s President is committing ecocide. We must stop him
By Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock
(Globe & Mail) The crisis in the Amazon rain forest holds at least two important lessons for humanity. First, decisions by one government about environmental management can have life and death consequences for people all over the world. And second, it is urgent that the international community find ways to influence rogue states whose irresponsible policies accelerate global warming and undermine the collective effort to address the existential threat posed by climate change.
Brazilian warplanes dump water on Amazon fires as outcry mounts
G7 leaders stepped up presure on president Jair Bolsonaro to tackle destruction of precious rainforest
(The Guardian) French president Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that the G7 was nearing a deal to provide “technical and financial help” to countries affected by the Amazon fires.
Bolsonaro announced the military would move in on Friday after several days of criticism from the public and world leaders that Brazil’s government was not doing anything to fight the fires. But outside Rondonia, the government had yet to provide any operational details for other states. The defence ministry said in a briefing on Saturday that 44,000 troops were available in Brazil’s northern Amazon region but did not say how many would be used where and what they would do.
23 August
What a change of tune in a few hours!
Brazil president plans to send in army to contain Amazon fires
Under increasing international pressure to contain fires sweeping parts of the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro authorized use of the military to battle the huge blazes while thousands took to the streets to protest his environmental policies.
Emmanuel Macron says he will block EU trade deal with Brazil over Amazon forest fires
France will block an EU trade deal with Brazil and its neighbours over the country’s handling of fires in the Amazon rainforest, a spokesperson for Emmanuel Macron has said.
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised around the world for his response to the fires, which scientists say are man-made and campaigners have linked to businesses looking to exploit the land.
“The president can only conclude President Bolsonaro lied to him at the Osaka summit,” a spokesperson for the Elysee told the Reuters news agency.
“In these conditions, France will oppose the Mercosur deal as it is.”
Conservationists say Mr Bolsonaro, who was elected on a pro-business platform, has encouraged the setting of fires as part of his pro-business programme. Brazil’s space research centre, Inpe, has detected 72,843 fires in the Amazon so far this year – an 84 per cent rise compared to 2018, when Mr Bolsonaro was elected. The president has said his country cannot fight the fires.
Brazil’s climate change skeptic government says warnings about the fires consuming the Amazon are ‘sensationalist,’ ‘hysterical,’ and ‘misleading’
(Business Insider via Yahoo) Brazil’s government is calling warnings about the record fires in the Amazon “sensationalist,” and claiming the fires are not an international problem.
Brazil’s government has ministers that reject climate change, and its president, Jair Bolsonaro, has advocated using the rainforest for industrial activity.
The equivalent of three football pitches worth of the Amazon is currently burning every minute, spurring international leaders to call for actions to save the rainforest.
But Bolsonaro called the fires an “internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries,” and rebuked calls from French President Emmanuel Macron for the issue to be discussed at this weekend’s G7 summit.
The government is painting itself as the subject of an international smear campaign as activists and political leaders around the world urge action and decry state policies that have allowed increased clearing of the forest for farming and logging, which has likely been the source of many of the fires.
Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, accused French President Emmanuel Macron of trying to “make personal political gains in an internal matter” after the French leader called the fires an “international crisis.” Macron called on Thursday for the fires to be discussed at the G7 summit of world leaders, which begins on Saturday.

20 August
Brazil forest fires rage as farmers push into the Amazon
Forest fires are surging in Brazil, with thousands being recorded this week alone. Scientist Carlos Nobre from Sao Paolo University says politics is to blame for the alarming increase.
(DW) Nearly 73,000 fires were recorded between January and August, compared with 39,759 in all of 2018, according to the latest figures from INPE, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, which monitors forest fires in the Amazon region. The number is the highest since records began, and an 83% increase on the number of fires in the same period last year. President Jair Bolsonaro suggested Wednesday, without citing evidence, that nongovernmental organizations could be setting them to make him look bad.

16 August
Norway halts Amazon fund donation in dispute with Brazil
International concerns grow over deforestation surge since Jair Bolsonaro took power
(The Guardian) Norway has followed Germany in suspending donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon Fund after a surge in deforestation in the South American rainforest.
After weeks of tense negotiations with Norway and Germany, the Bolsonaro government unilaterally closed the Amazon Fund’s steering committee on Thursday. The fund has been central to international efforts to curb deforestation although its impact is contested.

7 August
Bolsonaro rejects ‘Captain Chainsaw’ label as data shows deforestation ‘exploded’
Data says 2,254 sq km cleared in July as president says Macron and Merkel ‘haven’t realized Brazil’s under new management’
(The Guardian) The far-right populist repeated claims that his administration – which critics accuse of helping unleash a new wave of environmental destruction – was the victim of a mendacious international smear campaign based on “imprecise” satellite data showing a jump in deforestation.
According to a report in the Estado de São Paulo newspaper, Amazon destruction “exploded” in July with an estimated 2,254 sq km (870 sq miles) of forest cleared, according to preliminary data gathered by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the government agency that monitors deforestation.
That is an area about half the size of Philadelphia and reportedly represents a 278% rise on the 596.6 sq km destroyed in July last year.

28 July
Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall
(NYT) The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.
Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.
But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.
While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.
Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the government agency that tracks deforestation.
In June alone, when the cooler, drier season began and cutting trees became easier, the deforestation rate rose drastically, with roughly 80 percent more forest cover lost than in June of last year.

14 July
He’s the Rush Limbaugh of Brazil. He has Bolsonaro’s ear. And he lives in rural Virginia.
(WaPo) For years, Olavo de Carvalho has recorded and uploaded lectures and rants from his home office in rural Virginia for consumption in his native Brazil — videos, blog posts and social media riffs laced with obscenities, homophobia and dark proclamations about a globalist conspiracy bent on enacting what he calls a “worldwide socialist dictatorship.”
Now that message is enjoying its moment. Carvalho, 72, a self-styled philosopher living in a self-imposed exile in the United States, is credited by supporters and critics alike for providing the intellectual spark that ignited the rapid rise of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — the newest member in a global cadre of right-wing populists, from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Hungary’s Viktor Orban to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte to President Trump.
… Carvalho is poised to take his message beyond Brazil. Former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who says he’s met with Carvalho frequently, wants to install him as a lecturer at a training camp in Europe for the next generation of right-wing thinkers, if such a project moves forward, and feature him in televised debates. “A seminal thinker,” Bannon called him in an interview.

7 July
João Gilberto obituary
One of the most important figures in Brazilian music who was known as the father of bossa nova
An evening with João Gilberto, the bright wallflower of bossa nova
(The Guardian) João Gilberto, who has died aged 88, was one of the most important and best loved figures in Brazilian music, who played a key role in the development of bossa nova in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Along with the composer Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim, he created a romantic, reflective new style in which samba rhythms were mixed with influences from the American “cool jazz” scene. As a guitarist, he pioneered a new technique that mixed the syncopated plucking of acoustic guitar chords with jazz-influenced harmonies and chord progressions, while as a singer his style was laid-back and understated.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has so far issued no official reaction to the death of a national hero – neither in print nor on the social media he is so fond of.
Brazil pays homage to ‘greatest artist’ Gilberto
Tributes pour in after the legendary artist, who pioneered bossa nova music, dies at the age of 88 in Rio de Janeiro.
… During Brazil’s military dictatorship years from 1964 to 1985, a time former army captain Bolsonaro often speaks of with nostalgia, the regime at times banned protests, engaged in censorship and tried political prisoners before military tribunals.
Large numbers of opposition members and artists were arrested, and many of them went into exile. Among them were Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.

5 July
Brazil: calls grow for Bolsonaro ally to quit after ‘devastating’ report on leaks
In new disclosures, conservative magazine Veja says Sergio Moro, who led Operation Car Wash, guilty of serious ‘irregularities’

4 July
‘A Brutal Violation of Press Freedom’: Glenn Greenwald Targeted With Investigation by Brazilian Government After Reporting on Corruption
(Common Dreams) “Criminally investigating journalist Glenn Greenwald for reporting on corruption within the Bolsonaro government is a shocking violation of his rights as a reporter.”
The Brazilian government is targeting one of its biggest critics, journalist Glenn Greenwald, in a move that has been decried by observers as an intimidation tactic designed to stifle opposition to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
The government’s finance ministry’s money laundering unit was asked by federal police to investigate Greenwald’s finances, O Antagonista reported Tuesday. The right-wing Brazilian news site said that the investigation would focus on whether Greenwald paid for access to leaked records he used in reporting on the Bolsonaro government’s “Operation Car Wash” sting.
The fallout from Greenwald’s reporting is having a major affect on Brazilian politics. On Tuesday, Moro appeared in front of the Brazilian Congress to answer questions on “Operation Car Wash” in a hearing that devolved at one point into near-violence.

3 July
Brazil: huge rise in Amazon destruction under Bolsonaro, figures show
Brazil pressured to protect Amazon under trade deal terms
Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest rose more than 88% in June compared with the same month a year ago, the second consecutive month of rising forest destruction under the rightwing president Jair Bolsonaro.
According to data from Brazil’s space agency, deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest totaled 920 sq km (355 sq miles)..
In the first 11 months, deforestation has already reached 4,565 sq km (1,762 sq miles), a 15% increase over the same period in the previous year.
Environmentalists have warned that Bolsonaro’s strong support for development in the Amazon and criticism of the country’s environmental enforcement agency for handing out too many fines would embolden loggers and ranchers seeking to profit from deforestation. Revealed: rampant deforestation of Amazon driven by global greed for meat

9 May
‘Exterminator of the future’: Brazil’s Bolsonaro denounced for environmental assault
Activist and politician Marina Silva warns Brazil’s rainforest protections being destroyed but vows ‘we can’t let that happen’
Jair Bolsonaro is transforming Brazil into an “exterminator of the future”, the activist and politician Marina Silva has warned, as she and seven other former environment ministers denounced the far-right president’s assault on rainforest protections.
The eight former ministers – who served governments across the political spectrum over nearly 30 years – warned on Wednesday that Bolsonaro’s government was systematically trying to destroy Brazil’s environmental protection policies.
“We are watching them deconstruct everything we’ve put together,” said José Sarney Filho, who served as environmental minister under the rightwing presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Michel Temer.
“We’re talking about biodiversity, life, forests … the Amazon has an incredibly important role in global warming. It’s the world’s air conditioner; it regulates rain for the entire continent.”

21 February
Simon Baptist: The first test for Bolsonaro
(The Economist) One of the most notable election results of 2018 was the victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election. Although his popularity was mostly on the back of a tough stance on law and order, he did articulate a reformist economic policy that was welcomed by international investors (although his subsequent speech at Davos disappointed many of them). I am more sceptical than the markets about whether he will manage to deliver on his promises: he lacks a majority in Congress for passing unpopular reforms, and his first couple of months in office have been marked mostly by confusion, miscommunication, infighting and scandal, which doesn’t bode well for governability or reform prospects.
A key test is about to come from proposed pension reforms, which are required if the country is to avoid a debt-sustainability crisis. The reforms do not currently have enough support to pass, but there will be a few months of debate, negotiation and amendment before a final vote. If this is successful, then it could be the start of a positive chain of events where other important policy areas are also addressed, and the optimism that surrounded Brazil a decade ago could return. If not, Bolsonaro is likely to revert to a relaxation of gun laws or a rollback of LGBT rights in order to appease his supporters.

15 January
Brazil’s Bolsonaro signs decree loosening gun ownership rules
President said the decree had been drafted ‘so that good citizens can have peace inside their homes’
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has signed a decree making it easier for citizens to keep a firearm at home in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates and a record 63,880 intentional violent deaths a year.

1 January
Brazil’s controversial new president embraced by Trump administration

Bolsonaro declares Brazil’s ‘liberation from socialism’ as he is sworn in
Far-right populist invited lawmakers to help country free itself from ‘ideological submission’ in speech
(The Guardian) Jair Bolsonaro has announced Brazil’s “liberation from socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness” after being sworn in as the country’s 42nd president.
His words delighted a crowd of more than 100,000 – many of whom had travelled to its modernist capital for the event, convinced the far-right populist can rescue their troubled country from virulent corruption, rising violent crime and economic doldrums.
“We have a unique opportunity before us to reconstruct our country and rescue the hope of our compatriots,” he said. “We are going to unite the people, rescue the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat genre ideology, conserving our values.”
He also referred to campaign promises such as freeing up gun possession. “Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves,” he said. Bolsonaro said he was counting on Congress support to provide “legal support” for police to do their work; he has promised impunity for police who kill criminals. “They deserve it and must be respected,” he said.
Bolsonaro has enjoyed the support of Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, which he said will have an “increase in efficiency” with “less bureaucracy” – words which will alarm environmentalists and indigenous activists concerned by his plans to reduce to streamline environmental licensing and allow commercial mining and farming on protected indigenous reserves.
These fears seem justified, in one of his first acts as president, just hours after being sworn in, Bolsonaro took the power to identify and demarcate indigenous reserves from the National Indian Foundation (Funai), giving it to the Ministry of Agriculture, according to local media reports.
Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration: the day progressive Brazil has dreaded
Brazil’s new president will feel emboldened to roll back rainforest protections and legitimise police’s use of deadly force
Perhaps no area faces a greater shake-up than the environment. To the horror of the environmentalists he so loathes, Bolsonaro has repeatedly signalled a desire to roll back environmental protections and make it easier to destroy the world’s biggest rainforest. Deeds have accompanied those words.
Since his stunning election, Bolsonaro has ditched plans to host key UN climate talks next year and appointed a foreign minister who believes climate change is a Marxist plot. As president, he looks set to take a sledgehammer to Brazil’s hard-earned reputation as a global leader in the fight against climate change and herald a new era of wrecking in the Amazon.
Foreign policy will also be upended, as Bolsonaro’s Brazil seeks a snug and historic allegiance with Donald Trump’s US and jettisons longstanding friendships with nations ruled by leftists, such as Cuba and Venezuela. “Everything we can legally and democratically do against these countries, we will do,” Bolsonaro recently vowed.

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