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Afro-Brazilian quilombola suffer with electrical blackout in Amapá State

Population is affected by water shortage and lack of proper access to medical services

Credit: Conaq/Divulgação

19 Nov 20

Afro-Brazilian quilombola suffer with electrical blackout in Amapá State

Since the beginning of November, the state of Amapá has been experiencing a power blackout that affects 13 of the state’s 16 municipalities, aggravating the vulnerability of the 258 quilombola communities [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] identified in the state, according to a number estimated by the National Coordination of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (Conaq). “If it is already bad in the city, worse in the community. There are people who are hungry, there are people who are sick, there are people who cannot drink water, there are several adverse situations,” the National Coordinator of Conaq, Núbia Cristina, reported to the organization’s website.

The quilombolas have suffered from the cutoff of the water supply — with no energy, no water pumping — and the consequent contamination by the consumption of non-potable water, obtained out of artesian wells and rivers, as residents told the Jornal de Brasília. The storage of food has also been compromised, spoiling meat and other items, and the blackout has made it difficult to buy food from local traders, with prices rising.

The blackout has also aggravated the Covid-19 pandemic among the quilombola population. Without access to ambulances, which do not reach the quilombola territories, the community has mobilized itself to transport contaminated people to health centers, without any kind of protection.

The critical situation experienced in the communities has also killed an important local leadership, Sérgio Clei de Almeida, president of the Quilombos Association of San Francisco de Matapí. The 50 year old leader died on November 18, trying to re-establish the electricity supply to the community of Torrão do Matapí.

Federal environmental agency allows construction of  resort on endangered turtle’s conservation beach in the Northeast

The resort construction was once prohibited and fined by Ibama itself

Credit: Projeto Tamar/Handout

19 Nov 20

Federal environmental agency allows construction of resort on endangered turtle’s conservation beach in the Northeast

The superintendent of the Brazilian Environmental Agency (Ibama) of Northeast state of Bahia, Rodrigo Santos Alves, authorized, against a previous technical decision by Ibama itself, the resumption of the construction works of a luxury beach resort in Praia do Forte; the enterprise poses risks to the procreation of endangered turtles species, according to conservation experts.

Nominated by Ricardo Salles in June 2019, Rodrigo Santos Alves gave his approval for the installation of a wall directly on the sand, in front of the hotel, in the sand, compromising the reproduction of the turtles, which advance to the shore to spawn. A fine of R$ 7.5 million that had been applied against the enterprise was also withdrawn. According to an article by O Estado de São Paulo, Alves, who is a partner of real estate broker Remax Jazz, which operates with luxury properties on the coast of Bahia, did not visit the site of the works, and justified his decision by claiming that “the licensor must balance the complex and often conflicting values between the environmental impact and the importance of the activity or venture, always seeking to promote ‘productive and pleasant harmony between the human being and his environment.

Also about Salles political and ideological usage of Ibama, newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo published last week a report of an audit carried out in October by the Federal Audit Court (TCU) that points to the irregular appointment of military personnel to Ibama’s high ranking positions promoted by the Minister of the Environment. The practice even disrespects legal requirements of the government itself, such as meeting criteria related to professional experience and academic training. The report analyzed eight nominations made by Salles.

As the newspaper reported, “none of these nominations meets the basic requirements of Decree 9727 published by President Bolsonaro in March 2019, with the promise to honor the ‘meritocracy’ in hiring rather than political sponsorship in government.

Candidates with a dirty record of environmental crimes are elected in 85 Brazilian municipalities

One out of three candidates with environmental fines were elected

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

18 Nov 20

Candidates with a dirty record of environmental crimes are elected in 85 Brazilian municipalities

The investigative journalism agency Pública revealed that 85 Brazilian municipalities elected mayors and vice mayors fined by Ibama for environmental infractions, a quarter of them in municipalities in the Amazon region. Among the crimes are “deforestation, burning, exploitation of native forest located in reserves,” including falsification of information for environmental agencies”, points out the survey made by the report.

The states of Pará and Mato Grosso lead the list of elected offenders, with ten each. Highlights include reelection in the municipality of Trairão, which was marked by the “Day of the Fire” in August 2019: both the mayor, Valdinei José Ferreira, and the vice mayor, Maurício de Lima Santos, have environmental fines that total R$ 6.6 million. The municipalities of Itaituba and Novo Progresso, also known as “Day of the Fire” hotspost, followed suit, with the election of politicians involved in environmental crimes. In Mato Grosso, the candidate with the highest number of environmental fines in these elections, Freud Fraga dos Santos, will continue for his second term as vice mayor of the municipality of Alto Araguaia.

Other states appear with significant numbers of environmental offenders elected are Ceará, Tocantins, Alagoas, Bahia, Paraíba, Amazonas and Minas Gerais.

Brazil has record breaking number of indigenous and quilombolas elected in the 2020 municipal elections

Results are celebrated by the communities who struggle with constant rights violations

Credit: Ribs/via Instituto Socioambiental

18 Nov 20

Brazil has record breaking number of indigenous and quilombolas elected in the 2020 municipal elections

Official data from the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and social movements indicate that Brazil elected a record number of indigenous and quilombola [afro-brazilian traditional communities members] candidates in the 2020 municipal elections. There were at least 220 indigenous – 10 mayors, 10 deputy mayors and 200 councilmen – and 57 quilombolas – one mayor, one deputy mayor and 55 councilmen – according to the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

The information on indigenous candidacies is based on the self-declaration made to electoral justice, registered by the TSE portal, and on the mapping carried out by organizations associated with the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib). According to Apib, the elected candidates belong to 47 peoples and 85 municipalities from all regions of Brazil. Compared to 2016, there has been an increase of almost 12% in the number of indigenous candidates elected, considering only the official data of the TSE. The ISA report also highlights the states that led the list of elected candidates in 2020, with Amazonas in first place (38), followed by Paraíba (18), Pernambuco (17) and Roraima and Bahia, with 15 each. Listened by the NGO, Kléber Karipuna, of Apib coordination, acknowledges in the 2020 elections an important victory of the indigenous movement: “Even in this situation of pandemic, which hindered these candidacies, it is a number considered satisfactory and significant growth of representativeness in the powers, both legislative and executive, and throughout Brazil”.

The survey of quilombola candidates was done by the National Coordination for the Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (Conaq), which estimates an increase of 54% in candidacies compared to the municipal elections of 2016. For the organization, this is the first time that the quilombola population participates in an expressive way in electoral disputes. “This result represents above all the recognition of the tireless struggle of these leaders for their territories,” said Antônio Crioulo, who accompanied the mobilization in the 23 states in which Conaq operates

In Maranhão, a state that is protagonist of the quilombolas struggle against the expansion of the Alcântara Launching Base, marked by removals and violations of rights, 14 quilombolas councilmen were elected, 11 of them in Alcântara, a municipality that houses the Brazilian Air Force project.

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

Gold diggers are the main vector of transmission

Credit: Chico Batata /Greenpeace

16 Nov 20

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

In June, the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-Environmental Institute – ISA] published a study that warned about the high risk of contagion of the Yanomami population because of the invasion of illegal gold diggers in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory (TIY), between the states of Roraima and Amazonas. Five months later, the health condition of the region reveals an announced tragedy, points out the report “Xawara: traces of Covid-19 in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory and the omission of the State”. According to the new survey, prepared by the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network and the TIY Leadership Forum, more than a third of the region’s indigenous people have already been exposed to the virus, with an increase of more than 250% in confirmed cases in the last three months – from 335 to 1,202 between August and October 2020. According to the study, contamination has already reached 23 of the 37 indigenous land regions, including isolated groups most vulnerable to the disease. The monitoring platform “Isolated Indigenous Peoples Covid-19 Alert”, of the Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and Recent Contact (Opi), also points to the high vulnerability of indigenous peoples isolated in TIY – in the Serra da Estrutura region – based on an analysis that crosses factors such as the number of confirmed cases, of deaths and the existence or not of a contingency plan for the region in question.

The government has been neglecting the request to withdraw illegal miners from the TIY, who act as a vector for contamination among the indigenous people, since the beginning of the pandemic. “We want to file this document with the Brazilian authorities. It is an instrument to denounce the problems of the gold diggers invasion, the contamination of the environment like our rivers, and also about the diseases, this xawara [epidemic], which has been killing many people,” said Dario Kopenawa Yanomami, vice president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association, one of the organizations behind the #ForaGarimpoForaCovid [Out with Gold diggin, out with Covid] campaign, which aims to expel gold diggers from Yanomami territory.

The report also denounces the lack of preventive strategies to contain the advance of contamination by the Yanomami Special Indigenous Health District (DESEI-Y), such as the use of more precise tests for the identification of the virus and the “statistical erasure of its dead in the pandemic,” marked by the underreporting of cases of those affected by the disease.

As another example of the mobilization of indigenous groups in an attempt to draw public attention to the violation of their lands, the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), has also published a recent study containing a series of complaints about companies associated with the systematic devastation of indigenous territories, the “Complicity in destruction III: how global corporations contribute to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon”. The document “reveals how a network formed by large international funding institutions is linked to the production and export of commodities involved in conflicts in Indigenous Lands, deforestation, shackling and weakening of environmental protections” says the text. Among the eleven companies mentioned are the mining companies Vale, Anglo American, Belo Sun, Potash of Brazil; the agribusiness sector, the companies Cargill, JBS, Cosan / Raízen; and in the energy sector, the companies Energisa Mato Grosso, Good Future Energy, Equatorial Energy Maranhão and Eletronorte. 

After five years, Federal Justice acknowledges Belo Monte dam negative impacts on indigenous peoples

dam affected way of life and culture of indigenous peoples who live in the Xingu Basin

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR/via Fotos Públicas

16 Nov 20

After five years, Federal Justice acknowledges Belo Monte dam negative impacts on indigenous peoples

In a provisional decision that partially meets the claim of the Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) made in a lawsuit initiated in 2015, regarding the “ethnocidal action” of the company Norte Energia in the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant, the Federal Court in Altamira (PA) recognized that the undertaking caused significant changes “in cultural traits, way of life and land use by indigenous peoples, causing relevant instability in intra- and inter-ethnic relations,” according to a note from the MPF.

The decision, announced on November 13, orders changes in the execution of the Basic Indigenous Environmental Plan of Belo Monte, in addition to determining “that the Union and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) present within 90 days a schedule for completion of the land regularization processes of the indigenous lands Paquiçamba, of the Juruna Yudjá people, and Cachoeira Seca, of the Arara people”. Another measure will be the creation of an External Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, composed by the MPF, representatives of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab) and non-indigenous organizations of civil society that operate in the region of the Xingu medium.

Since October, Altamira, in Pará State, has faced a historic drought in the stretch known as the Volta Grande do Xingu, which is part of the reservoir of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. Recently, volunteers have mobilized to rescue the fish affected by the low volume of water, bogged down in puddles and mud in the river beds.

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

Illegal gold digging camp at Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará State

Credit: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

13 Nov 20

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

A survey by the project Amazônia Minada [Mined Amazon], from InfoAmazônia, shows that, although unconstitutional, the National Mining Agency (ANM) maintains active more than 3 thousand requests to mine in Indigenous Lands (TIs) in the Amazon region. Infoamazânia also created a map that shows in real time the new requests that are applied to the agency, superposed to 385 indigenous lands and 49 conservation units of integral protection of the Brazilian Legal Amazon. The practice is one of the main causes of the environmental devastation that hits the TIs located in the region. Besides, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, gold digging is a serious vector of contamination among the indigenous population.

Although this is a historical problem, the rise of mining on indigenous lands is directly associated with the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro and the encouragement given by the president to illegal exploitation of protected areas, states the report. Since he took office, the average number of requests for exploration in TIs has reached 117.3 every 12 months, more than double that registered in the previous two years, of 50 requests. This year, in just ten months, the highest volume of requests in the last 24 years was registered, with 145 requests. Among the regions most affected is TI Kayapó, in Pará State, which concentrates more than a third of requests.

The year 2020 was marked by the government’s legal mobilization to stimulate mining on protected lands. In February, Bolsonaro sent to Congress bill 191/2020, which authorizes mineral and energy exploration in these territories. Although it is still in process, in September another initiative was announced, the Mining and Development Program, which mentions as its goal “to promote the regulation of mining on indigenous land”.

Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions rise by almost 10% in 2019

Experts associate the rise to deforestation of the Amazon and Pantanal

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

12 Nov 20

Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions rise by almost 10% in 2019

In the first year of the Bolsonaro government, Brazil registered a 9.6% increase in greenhouse gas emissions, driven by high deforestation rates. The information comes from the Climate Observatory (OC), based on the analysis of data from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System (SEEG). In 2019, 2.17 billion gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) were released into the atmosphere, compared to 1.98 billion in 2018. According to the data, the rural activity was the main responsible for the increase in emissions: “Adding the emissions from land use and farming, the SEEG concludes that rural activity – either directly or indirectly, through deforestation, which is almost all directed to farming – accounted for 72% of emissions in Brazil last year,” said the organization.

The energy sector also had a significant participation in emissions registered in 2019, responsible for 19% of total emissions in the country. According to the OC, the growth comes from the high consumption of electricity and the consequent activation of gas thermoelectric plants and increased use of diesel. The increase happens in the while the government gives subsides to the production of fossil fuels, according to a recent study by the Institute of Socio-economic Studies (Inesc), published by the G1 website. There were R$ 99.4 billion in subsidies to producers and consumers of oil derivatives, coal and natural gas, an increase of 16% over 2018 and the equivalent of 1.36% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019.

The contribution of the waste sector, although small, by being responsible for 4% of the country’s emissions – was also highlighted. “Historically the sector presents a significant growth. However, in recent years a certain stability of emissions is possible. This indicates a scenario of maintaining the current situation, without major advances in waste management and the fulfillment of sectoral climate objectives,” said Iris Coluna, of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, one of the NGOs responsible for developing the SEEG.

The 2019 emissions go against the goal of the National Policy on Climate Change (PNMC) – which officializes the country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1% and 38.9% of projected emissions by 2020 – and places Brazil in 6th place on the list of the world’s largest climate polluters, according to the organization.

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Deforestation helps the virus spread: a tragic combination for local populations

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Nov 20

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Since March, studies and surveys by researchers and civil society organizations have been issuing warnings about the extreme vulnerability of the indigenous population when facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The environmental devastation promoted by the burning and deforestation, which reached record levels in 2020, is pointed out as a significant risk factor for indigenous health, by increasing the risk of contagion and bringing territorial instability.

Reporter Brasil brought to the public an unprecedented survey of the NGO Global Forest Watch that points to the devastation promoted by more than 115 thousand outbreaks of fire in several Indigenous Lands since the beginning of the year until October 29. According to the report, out of the more than 724 TIs contemplated by the report, in several states, 61% registered fires. Local leaders and experts point out the lack of structure to fight the fires – used by farmers to clean the pasture – and denounce the abandonment of the National Indian Foundation (Funai). Indigenous Land Parque do Xingu, in Mato Grosso State, is among the most affected in 2020, with 10,502 outbreaks of fire. “Our reality is not good at all. We’ve lost many leaders, our people are dying [from Covid-19] and, to make matters worse, our house, which is our pharmacy and our supermarket, is on fire,” reported Watatakalu Yawalapiti, the region’s leader, who is home to 16 ethnic groups in 500 villages.

Although the fire from the fires does not directly affect the communities, its impact on health will be felt, points out the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The research “Covid-19 and burning in the Legal Amazon and Pantanal: cumulative aspects and vulnerabilities,” released by the Deutsche Welle on November 12, warns about how the coexistence of the increase in burning and the presence of Covid-19 can further aggravate the health situation of the indigenous peoples. “The large occurrence of burnings, which has reached record numbers in 2020, combined with low humidity in the Amazon region and Pantanal, may worsen the impact of the epidemic of Covid-19. The particulate material and toxic gases generated by the burning of biomass reach long distances, and can affect large cities in the North and Midwest regions, as well as river-dwellers populations, quilombos and indigenous lands hundreds of kilometers away from the sources of fire. The particulate material has a great inflammatory potential, which can aggravate the cases of Covid-19, being also a gateway for respiratory infections,” says the technical note of the study. The document highlights that one of the priority areas for strengthening the health system and control of fires is precisely that of the “arc of deforestation,” especially in northern Mato Grosso State, where TI Parque do Xingu (MT) is located, and in the southeast of Pará State.

Alongside with the fires, deforestation on indigenous lands, caused by gold diggers, miners, and illegal loggers, grows exponentially, increasing the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the villages, points out another study, prepared by the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-environmental Institute] (ISA) and released in September. According to the organization, in the Trincheira-Bacajá, Kayapó and Munduruku indigenous lands, in southwest Pará, deforestation increased, respectively, 827%, 420% and 238%, between March and July 2020. The regions are among the seven most invaded lands in the Legal Amazon, together with the Karipuna and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau (Rondônia State), Araribóia (Maranhão State) and Yanomami (Amazonas and Roraima States). As a response, the cases of the diseases shoot up in the territories, says ISA.

In the most recent survey made by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) about the impact of Covid-19 among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, until November 9, 28,241 confirmed cases of the disease were registered, 643 suspects and 695 deaths, in 133 peoples.

Bolsonaro administration wants to control NGOs in the Amazon

NGOs have been attacked by Bolsonaro since his campaign

Credit: Ana_Cotta/via CC BY 2.0

9 Nov 20

Bolsonaro administration wants to control NGOs in the Amazon

The Amazon Council plans, through a regulatory framework, to have full control over the activities of non-governmental organizations in the Amazon by 2022. The proposal aims not only to control the work of NGOs, but also to limit the actions of those that violate “national interests”, according to documents obtained by the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. The text, however, does not specify what would be the criteria to be fulfilled by the organisations and what are such interests.

The organizations heard in the report criticized the proposal, and pointed out in the initiative the lack of social participation and authoritarianism that mark the environmental policy of the Bolsonaro administration. “They don’t want to go through the people’s scrutiny and intend to impose themselves without dialogue with the society,” said Ariana Ramos, coordinator of the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-environmental Institute] (ISA), an organization that has been working since 1994 to defend the environment and indigenous rights.

For the Climate Observatory (OC), the measure is unconstitutional and is part of the “insistent and repugnant campaign of defamation of NGOs by government agents”. In a note, the OC warned about the existence of a device that already has the function of regulating the work of the institutions – the Regulatory Framework of Civil Society Organizations (MROSC), via Law 13.019/2014 – and recalled the attempts of coercion against NGOs by the government of Bolsonaro. “The attacks and persecutions of Bolsonaro’s administration against civil society are a regrettable constant in its political action. Initiatives aiming to control the NGOs have been previously presented by the Executive Power and rejected by the Brazilian Parliament – as in the case of the Provisional Measure (MP) 870/2019. Also in December 2019, agents of the National Intelligence Agency (Abin) went to the Climate Summit (COP25) to monitor (spy) Brazilian NGOs present there”.

The vice-president Hamilton Mourão, who is in charge of the Council, said he didn’t know the proposal, although he signed a memorandum calling servers to discuss the group’s guidelines, including the NGOs control.

The new initiative of the Amazon Council comes to public two months after General Augusto Heleno, chief minister of the government’s Institutional Security Office, publicly attacked, under the pretext of “the crime against the homeland,” one of the most respected Brazilian indigenous organizations, the Indigenous Peoples Network (APIB). Heleno accused the APIB of “publishing fake news against Brazil; imputing environmental crimes to the President of the Republic; and supporting international campaigns to boycott Brazilian products”. In response, the organization stated “that the greatest crime that damages our homeland is the government’s omission in the face of the destruction of our biomes, protected areas, illegal burning, shackling, deforestation and invasion of our lands and the theft of our wealth”.

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

Elections may change the relations between countries, given Bolsonaro’s Trump-centric approach to policies

Credit: Alan Santos/PR/via CC BY 2.0

7 Nov 20

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

The victory of the Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the U.S. presidential elections, announced on November 6, might bring important changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil. With Trump, the Brazilian government found ideological alignment between the anti-human rights and anti-human environment agendas. But now, it will have the challenge to establish an open dialogue with a new president who has already publicly declared, throughout the electoral race, dissatisfaction with the Brazilian socio-environmental policy. Biden has even mentioned an eventual U.S. mobilization if Brazil does not take effective measures for the protection of the Amazon. To deepen the understanding on how Biden’s arrival to the presidency may impact Brazil, we recommend some readings:

– Brazilian analysts are already speculating about the possible fall of ministers Ricardo Salles (Environment) and Ernesto Araújo (Foreign Relations), who hold key positions for the construction of a common agenda between the newly elected government in the U.S. and that of Jair Bolsonaro, as highlighted by a report from El País, which heard dozens of experts.

The website O Eco, focused on covering environmental issues, spoke with two experts in climate and environmental policy. The article highlights specific points of Joe Biden’s government program relevant to Brazil, such as the resumption of the Paris Agreement, and the advancement of the environmental agenda among Democrats in recent years. They also mention a possible commercial and investor stoppage due to the inaction of the Brazilian government in the face of environmental destruction.

– The Globo Rural heard a team of experts who also analyzed the economic consequences that Brazil may suffer if it does not prioritize the development of a sustainable economy. The article highlights a possible isolation of the country in the international market by ignoring the need to change its environmental policy in the face of commercial pressure from major players like Europe and China.  

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

NGO offered an alternative tour to diplomats, including areas more severely affected by deforestation

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

6 Nov 20

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

At the head of two key institutions for environmental protection, the Amazon Council and the Amazon Fund, Vice President Hamilton Mourão organized a tour of the Amazon with ambassadors, which began on October 4. Representatives from the European Union, Germany, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Peru, Colombia and South Africa participated in the visits.

As reported by El País, the trip was criticized by environmentalists for proposing a “shielded” route, concentrated on the outskirts of Manaus, capital of Amazonas State, and the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, ignoring the regions most affected by deforestation. As a counterpoint, the NGO Greenpeace sent the ambassadors an alternative route, including the states of Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul. “A diplomatic trip through the Brazilian Amazon that does not include in its route the challenges and serious environmental damage that the region faces, is an incomplete trip and a missed opportunity,” said the NGO.

To the DW, Heiko Thoms, German Ambassador, one of the main donor countries of the now paralyzed Amazon Fund, stated that the trip does not change the country’s impression about the Brazilian environmental crisis. In parallel to Mourão’s invitation, Thoms met with the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Sustainable Amazon Foundation.

The United Kingdom diplomat Liz Davidson shared her impressions in a series of Twitter posts. She reinforced the importance of the visit “at a crucial moment of the sustainable development agenda in Brazil and in the world”. Davidson, however, regretted “not going to the areas most affected by deforestation and not having had the opportunity to talk with organizations and social leaderships working in the region, which would have helped to conduct our dialogue in a more balanced and transparent manner”.

The visit took place amid strong international pressure against Brazil’s high deforestation rates. In early October, the European Parliament called for changes in Mercosur’s environmental policy so that the economic agreement between the blocs could be signed; in June, a group of investors sent an open letter to the Brazilian embassies in several countries expressing concern about growing deforestation rates.

87% of Brazilians say that preserving the Amazon is a top priority

The research was conducted by Greenpeace and heard 1,500 Brazilians

Credit: Fábio Nascimento / Greenpeace

1 Nov 20

87% of Brazilians say that preserving the Amazon is a top priority

The poll “Amazon: deforestation and preservation policy”, commissioned by the NGO Greenpeace to Datafolha Institute and carried out between the 6tg and 18th of August 2020, pointed out that the preservation of the Brazilian forest is a concern for the great majority of respondents. When asked about the importance of preserving the Amazon forest, on a scale of 0 to 10, 87% of 1524 Brazilians heard by the survey answered with the highest score.

In line with what the DETER monitoring system of the Space Research Institute (INPE) shows, the majority of the public (73%) evaluates that deforestation is on the rise in 2020.

About the causes of the problem, the research indicates that the loggers are seen as the main deforesters in the Amazon, followed by miners, ranchers and cattle breeders.

Cristiane Mazzetti, a Greenpeace deforestation expert, commented on the result, saying that the effects of loggers and miners are significant, but 80% of deforested areas are occupied by cattle ranching.

In addition, 46% of those interviewed consider insufficient the work of Bolsonaro to prevent the flattening of the forest; 42% have the same evaluation in relation to state governments; 38% in relation to Ricardo Salle and Vice President Hamilton Mourão; 20% in relation to Ibama and FUNAI, and 19% towards the Army.

Amazon and Pantanal reach new deforestation records on October

Specialists criticized government denial of official data

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

1 Nov 20

Amazon and Pantanal reach new deforestation records on October

Contrary to what the government says, alluding to a supposed public persecution against its environmental policy, not only is the situation of the fires in the Amazon and Pantanal is not under control, but the biomes reached historical levels of fire outbreaks in October.

According to data from the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), despite a small drop in relation to September, the Amazon has surpassed this month the number of fires recorded in 2019 – from January to October, there were 93,356, compared to 89,176 the previous year.

The Pantanal had 2,856 outbreaks of fire throughout October, a historical record for the month since INPE began monitoring the region in 1998. According to the Environmental Satellite Applications Laboratory (LASA), 28% of the biome has already been consumed by the fires.

According to the NGO WWF-Brazil, most of the fires in the regions are a direct consequence of deforestation, which also broke records in 2020. In a interview to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, Mariana Napolitano, Science Manager at the NGO, explained the relationship between criminal activities: “After cutting down the forest, the violators set fire to clean the accumulated organic material. At the end of the month, with rains, the rhythm of fires seems to reduce, but we cannot depend only on climatic factors. What happened in the drought season in the Amazon and Pantanal in 2020 can’t happen again”.

Napolitano also mentioned the government’s denialist stance in the face of data that corroborates the gravity of the situation: “With the rates of deforestation increasing in recent years, the researchers’ warnings have been ignored by the government: deforestation and fire go together”.

In the same week of the news, the BBC Brazil divulged that Norway, previously the main donor of the Amazon Fund, is financing a satellite system to monitor tropical forests in 64 countries, including the Brazilian Amazon. The data will be public and can be accessed at no cost, as a way of joining forces to combat deforestation, explains Sveinung Rotevatn, the country’s Minister of Climate and Environment: “There are many parts of the world where high resolution images are simply not available, or where they are available – the NGOs, communities and universities in these countries cannot afford them because they are too expensive”.

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

A Santarém (PA) court accepted MPF’s request

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

30 Oct 20

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

In the last week of October, indigenous movements took an important step against the systematic violation of territories. In a sentence signed on the 27th, the Federal Court in Santarém (PA) invalidated the normative instruction nº 9/2020, published by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), in April, which removes from the country’s land registers the indigenous lands still in the demarcation process. According to the sentence, the instruction violates article 231 of the Constitution, which protects the indigenous right to land as a precedent, and demonstrates “a clear option for the defense of the interests of individuals to the detriment of indigenous interests and, therefore, the public heritage itself, in an apparent inversion of values and swindling the institutional mission,” as reported the portal of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF). The text also reinforced that the existence of indigenous territories not yet definitively regularized is a pending issue caused by the slowness of the federal government.

With the decision, FUNAI and the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) have a period of 15 days to re-introduce into the Land Management System (Sigef) and the Rural Environmental Cadastre System (Sicar) all the indigenous lands not yet ratified in the regions of the lower Tapajós and lower Amazon.

In all, the MPF filed 24 lawsuits against normative instruction 9/2020, filed in 13 states – Pará, Roraima, Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Ceará, Bahia, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – requesting its provisional suspension and annulment after the definitive judgment of the cases.

The measure had already been criticized by several indigenous organizations, political parties – which have even requested its annulment by the STF – and environmental officials. For the Indigenist Associated Group (INA), an association of FUNAI servants, the 9/2020 normative instruction “transforms FUNAI into an instance of certification of properties for squatters, land grabbers, and plotters of Indigenous Lands,” according to a technical note published in April.

Supreme Court suspends Conama decisions that deregulate environmental norms

Justice Weber had demanded explanations about the decision

Credit: Tribunal Superior Eleitoral/Public Domain

29 Oct 20

Supreme Court suspends Conama decisions that deregulate environmental norms

After political parties filed a suit the Federal Supreme Court (STF), through Appeals of Noncompliance with Fundamental Precepts (ADPFs), against the revocations made by the National Environmental Council (Conama), justice Rosa Weber, rapporteur of the lawsuit, suspended the effects of resolution 500/2020. Weber restored the Resolutions 284/2001 on environmental licensing for agricultural irrigation projects, 302/2002 and 303/2002, both referring to the protection of mangroves and restingas. “The sometimes legitimate impetus to simplify environmental law through deregulation cannot be satisfied at the price of setbacks on legal protection of assets,” said the justice.

As informed by the G1, the decision is valid until the analysis, by the STF, of the actions related to the subject.

Resolution 499/2020, which regulates the burning of solid waste in cement factories, had its request for suspension denied.

Minister weakens protection at Fernando de Noronha national park and attacks congressman with childish remarks

Salles signs a permit to allow sardines fishing in the region

Credit: Globo/Reproduction

28 Oct 20

Minister weakens protection at Fernando de Noronha national park and attacks congressman with childish remarks

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, arrived in Fernando de Noronha National Park on October 28 and, in a few days, left the mark of his management in the region.

In the company of Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, Minister of Tourism, Salles granted to the private initiative the Boldró Viewpoint, a federal property that, according to the terms of the call notice opened by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), will house services of food and beverage, souvenirs and reception of visitors for an indefinite time. On the 30th, together with the Secretary of Fisheries, Jorge Seif Junior, and the president of ICMBio, Fernando Cesar Lorencini, Salles announced the authorization for sardine fishing within the Fernando de Noronha National Park. The measure was celebrated by President Bolsonaro, who congratulated the Secretary of Fisheries in a post on social media.

As pointed out by O Estado de S. Paulo, the decision ignores a technical opinion contrary to the release issued by ICMBio itself in 2016. The document, to which the report had access, warns that “making an exception for sardine fishing may imply precedent for greater pressure for the release of other fisheries” and that “there is no motivation in the contexts of biodiversity conservation, economic or historical tradition that justify the opening of the activity”.

The government of Pernambuco, where the conservation unit is located, has also expressed itself against the Minister’s decision. José Antônio Bertotti Júnior, Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of the state, declared in a note sent to the Fantástico TV show that the measure, in the long term, “will lead to the fragility of protection in the country and in extreme cases interfere with sustainable tourism practices, since it may alter the food selectivity of the shark, and may bring risks of attacks on the human population”.

Ricardo Salles’ passage through the archipelago was also the scenario of an institutional crisis. In response to a comment by Rodrigo Maia, president of the Chamber of Deputies, who criticized the minister’s stance on environmental protection measures, Salles’ official profile responded to the post by calling Maia “Nhonho,” a nickname given to the politician by government supporters, in reference to a character in the Mexican series “Chaves”. After the repercussion, Salles claimed that his account was invaded and did not recognize the author of the comment.

According to a survey conducted by Folha de S. Paulo, every 23 days on average, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) requests the removal of Ricardo Salles’ minister for his actions against the environment. The frequency is due to the resistance of the Justice in complying with the request. Faced with the legal maneuvers by the prosecutors, which make it difficult to continue the process, the solution found is to appeal. “There has already been a postponement of a trial, erroneous distribution of an appeal, delay in citing the minister and even a challenge by the MPF’s Inspector General’s Office,” he said.

After Belo Monte dam, Xingu River faces historical drought in Altamira (PA)

The construction of the dam may have worsened the drought

Credit: JL1 – TV Liberal/Reproduction

27 Oct 20

After Belo Monte dam, Xingu River faces historical drought in Altamira (PA)

The stretch of the Xingu River in the city of Altamira, Pará State, which is part of the main reservoir of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Power Plant, is experiencing “one of the greatest droughts in the last five decades”, according to the local website A Voz do Xingu. Residents in the region, known as Volta Grande do Xingu, are facing difficulties in fishing and sailing due to the reduction of water volume and also because the sand banks that formed on the riverbed. “The fish fled, there is no way to fish, it dried up a lot after the construction of this plant there, in Belo Monte”, said fisherman Manoel da Silva. The article also states that even those who moved to farming as an alternative to fishing are not managing to sell their produce, as they are practically isolated without river boat transportation. A report from TV Liberal, affiliated with Globo in Pará, showed the city’s river stretch with stranded vessels and the encounter between the Altamira stream and the Xingu river, with its navigation interrupt due to the low waters.

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations denounce governmental omission

Credit: APIB/Handout

23 Oct 20

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations, such as the Javari Valley  Indigenous Peoples Union (Univaja), the Javari Valley Kanamari Association and the Indigenous Peoples Network (APIB), released a statement warning about the arrival of Covid-19 at the Jarinal Village, in the far east of Javari Valley Indigenous Land (TI), Amazonas State, in the Amazon Region. The region concentrates many isolated indigenous groups that are now threatened by the virus.

With the first positive cases confirmed by the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) among residents at Javari Valley Indigenous Land, the organizations are denouncing the federal government’s disobedience of a Supreme Court order which determined the set up of sanitary barriers to stop Covid-19 spread inside indigenous territories. The Court order came after a lawsuit filed by APIB and political parties to protect the Javari Valley. The deadline for implementing the barriers were ] September 30th, but the government never installed the blockades. The invasion by illegal gold diggers of indigenous lands  is also a driver of the virus spread;  organizations have been demanding control measures against them for months.

A study called “Is deforestation spreading COVID-19 to the indigenous peoples?”, by Brazilian economist Humberto Laudares, affiliated with Genebra University, in Switzerland, points to the correlation between deforestation, illegal gold mining and the contamination of indigenous people with Covid-19. According to the results of the research, conducted in over 5,000 municipalities in Brazil, deforestation and gold mining related to at least 22% of the confirmed Covid-19 cases among indigenous until August 31th. Every new 100 square kilometers of deforestation translates into 2,5 to 5,5 new coronavirus infections among indigenous populations.

Amid environmental control "blackout",  Minister delays data on Brazilian GHG emissions

Salles suggests delaying data delivery to UN

Credit: Carolina Antunes/PR/via CC BY 2.0

21 Oct 20

Amid environmental control “blackout”, Minister delays data on Brazilian GHG emissions

The minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles proposed to delay the delivery of the 4th report on greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil which was due on December 2020 to the United Nations (UN) under the country’s commitment to the Climate Change Convention.

According to Folha de S. Paulo, the minister’s intention is to gain time to change the categorization of emissions data from the agricultural sector. “Salles proposes to move emissions from agriculture to another category, called land use and forests”. In addition, “activities that contribute to removing carbon from the atmosphere – such as the recovery of degraded pastures – would no longer be added as a change in land use, starting to count as positive points for the agricultural sector,” said the article.

In another measure related to climate policy, earlier this month, Salles announced the creation of the Floresta + CARBONO program, with the objective of “promoting a favorable and effective business environment to provide legal security to the forest carbon market”, according to the portal of the Ministry of the Environment, which states that the program would have “great potential” for forest conservation.

If, on the one hand, MMA is mobilizing to benefit the agricultural sector, on the other hand, the ministry is experiencing a blackout of environmental fines. The lack of enforcing penalties, reported by the Climate Observatory (OC), is attributed to Decree 9,760, signed by President Bolsonaro in April 2019, which amended the Environmental Crimes Law of 2008 and established “conciliation centers” to review fines and penalties by Ibama and ICMBio. The study showed that, since then, Ibama has held only five conciliation hearings out of the 7,205 scheduled, while ICMBio has held none. “In practice, the offenders got a gift,” said the OC. The decree, baptized by activists as “Punishment Zero”, became the target of a political parties’ lawsuit filed in the Supreme Federal Court asking for its annulment on October 21.

Ibama halts forest fire-fighting due to "lack of money" while resources at the Amazon Fund remain frozen

Over 1,400 environmental agents had to leave their duties

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

21 Oct 20

Ibama halts forest fire-fighting due to “lack of money” while resources at the Amazon Fund remain frozen

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Resources (Ibama), via its Environmental Protection Directorate, ordered the withdrawal of the Forest Fire Brigades across the country starting at midnight of October 22nd. The order interrupted the work of approximately 1,4000 firefighting agents who work at the National Center for Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires (Prevfogo). In a statement, the organ justified the measure alleging “exhaustion of resources”. “Since September, the autarchy has been facing difficulties regarding financial releases by the National Treasury Secretariat”, says the text. The newspaper Estado de S. Paulo revealed that the Ministry of the Environment questioned the Ministry of Economy about the resources, but did not receive any hint that the funds would be released.

The episode is yet another escalation on the budgetary tension between the two ministries. In August, minister Ricardo Salles announced the interruption of firefighting in the Amazon and the Pantanal due to the blockade of R$ 60 million in the budget of the Ministry of the Environment, determined by the chief of staff of the Presidency and led by the Ministry of Economy. Salles retreated, but it led Vice President Hamilton Mourão, who heads the Amazon Fund, to classify MMA’s action as “hasty”.

For the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema), the withdrawal of the Forest Fire Brigades happens as “the government  squanders money by ending the Amazon Fund to now say it has no resources”. The organization refers to governance problems faced by the Amazon Fund since 2019, such as the exclusion of participation from society, among other irregularities, which culminated in Salles’s departure from the chairmanship of the committee in May 2020. Managed by the National Bank for Economic Development and Social (BNDES), the Amazon Fund raises funds for actions to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, and to promote conservation and the sustainable use of the biome.

In this scenario, Norway, the main international donor of the fund, reaffirmed the need for a new stance by the federal government in relation to the country’s environmental policy so that operations can be resumed. In an interview with Valor Econômico, Sveinung Rotevatn, Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment, stated that the advance of deforestation and the vulnerable situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil is of concern to Norway. “I receive letters every week asking us to ask the Brazilian authorities for concrete progress before reopening the Amazon Fund,” he said.

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

Amado fought for Covid-19 protection for the indigenous peoples

Crédito: Danilo Mello/Foto Amazonas/Amazônia Real

16 Oct 20

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

The Tuxaua Geral (general-chief) of the village Sateré-Mawé, Amado Menezes Filho, died due to Covid-19 complications, at age 65, at the Jofre Cohen Hospital, in Paratins, Amazonas State. He was admitted at the hospital on September 23. 

During the pandemic, Menezes Filho fought actively to stop Covid-19 spread among indigenous populations. He demanded the maintenance of a sanitary barrier installed at Maraú River, which leads to the Indigenous Land Andirá Marau, home to the Sateré-Mawé. The Parintins Special Indigenous Sanitary District (DESEI) removed the barrier on May 31. On June 2nd, the Tuxaua Geral and many other leaders from Sateré-Mawé General Council, filed a note to repudiate the decision and denounce the removal of the barrier.

The absence of the barrier led to a rise of coronavirus cases among the indigenous. It rose from 30 and one death to 164 and 5 deaths, according to the Observatory of Indigenous Rights and Policies (OBIND).

Entities, newspapers and social movements recognized Amado Menezes Filho as an historical leader in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights, for land demarcation, health and education.

Salles and federal attorney general act to intimidate environmentalist

NGOs say that attacks against Marcio Astrini are anti-democratic

Carolina Antunes/PR/via CC BY 2.0

14 Oct 20

Salles and federal attorney general act to intimidate environmentalist

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, in yet another attack against the work of NGOs and environmentalists, requested the Attorney General’s Office (AGU) to summon Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, to present explanations about statements given to the newspaper O Globo on May 25th. In the article, which echoed Salles’ suggestion of taking advantage of the pandemic to further deregulate environmental norms, Astrini criticized what he called “an environmental destruction task force”, led by the minister, and drew attention to its attempt to work with AGU to “avoid legal problems”.

The environmentalist, in addition to his work at the Climate Observatory – which gathers 50 organizations, such as the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature – Brazil (WWF-Brazil) -, worked for 13 years at Greenpeace.

According to the G1 portal, the AGU claims that the judicial interpellation is justified by Astrini having committed a “crime against honor”, since “‘Besides attacking the person of the Minister of State for the Environment, it also affects the institution of the Attorney General”.

In a statement, the Climate Observatory repudiated the attempt to intimidate Astrini and criticized the minister’s anti-democratic stance. “While Salles seeks to use the state apparatus to hide his anti-environmental policy, the forest burns, transparency decreases, the democratic space shortens and Brazil’s image disintegrates internationally. His performance only shows that, as a minister, he is not willing to take any kind of effective action for the protection of the Amazon and other biomes, and that is not up to the position it holds “, says the text.

Record-breaking heatwave causes hyperthermia alert and harms agriculture

Heatwave is damaging food production in the country

Crédit: Inmet/Reprodução

13 Oct 20

Record-breaking heatwave causes hyperthermia alert and harms agriculture

The National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) issued a warning of “great danger” until October 9 because of the high temperatures recorded at the beginning of the month. In the Midwest and Tocantins State, there is a risk of death from hyperthermia. In an interview to CNN Brazil, Mamedes Luiz Melo, an Inmet meteorologist, pointed out that the scenario is caused by a “myriad of factors”, such as the long period without rain and the recent fires that struck the Amazon and the Pantanal.

The effects of the heat wave are already being felt in the economy. In the city of Bastos, the largest egg producer in São Paulo State, the heat — which reached 41ºC throughout the week — caused great losses to the region’s poultry farmers. Heard by Globo Rural, Sérgio Kakimoto estimates that his farm lost between 40,000 and 45,000 animals and predicts that the loss could reach 70,000 hens. According to an article on the G1 portal, the damage led the cost of eggs to rise by approximately 10%.

In Belo Horizonte (MG), an inquiry carried out in 17 food stores  in the capital found an increase in the price of fruits and vegetables because of the powerful heat that affects the region. For the newspaper Hoje em Dia, Feliciano Abreu, coordinator of the Mercado Mineiro website, pointed out that the transportation of goods is compromised by high temperatures.

Deforestation alerts in the Amazon reach new high in September

It is the second deforestation peak during Bolsonaro administration in September

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

9 Oct 20

Deforestation alerts in the Amazon reach new high in September

Statistics from the Institute for Space Studies (Inpe) show that the two biggest peaks of deforestation alerts in the Legal Amazon region in September occurred under Bolsonaro administration: the first, in 2019, with alerts in an area of ​​1,454 km², and now, in 2020, in 964 km². The information on deforestation by Inpe traces back to 2015, the year in which the Inpe’s Deforestation Detection System in Real Time (Deter) began circulating the alerts. The website El País reports that, until 2018, the monthly average of alerts from the Dete/Inper system was 576 km². As of 2019, it has risen to 1,189 km².

In response to the rise in deforestation in the Amazon region in 2020, the Bolsonaro administration, through its Ministry of Defense, implemented in May the Army Operation Verde Brasil 2, led by Vice President Hamilton Mourão, to “fight and suppress environmental crimes” in the Legal Amazon region. However, deforestation continued to rise even with the allocation of R$ 418,6 million for the six-month  Verde Brasil 2 Operation, which is set to end in November.   

On October 5, piauí magazine denounced the use of the Operation Verde Brasil 2 budget for the refurbishment of Armed Forces barracks and units inside and outside the Legal Amazon. One of them was the 47th Infantry Battalion, which deployed military personnel from Coxim, Mato Grosso do Sul State, to operate in the city of Juara, Mato Grosso State. According to the publication, Verde Brasil 2’s budget “already paid for the renovation of the roofs, the painting of the walls and the replacement of coatings, floors, doors and frames” of the 47th Battalion. For doors and frames alone, it was R$ 545,000 reais. Another example is the 44th Motorized Infantry Battalion, in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso’s capital, whose renovation expenses in the barracks exceeded R$1.2 million reais.

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

Covid-19 has reached 132 indigenous ethnicities

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

9 Oct 20

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) has been regularly reviewing the number of suspected, confirmed cases and registered deaths from Covid-19 in the states of the Amazon, such as Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. As of October 8th, there are 26,037 infected by the virus, 671 suspects, and 673 deaths, affecting 132 indigenous peoples. The survey gathers official data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) and information from leaders and professionals working in indigenous health, besides the network of COIAB organizations. The State of Amazonas concentrates the largest number of deaths – 205, among 26 indigenous ethnicities.

Approved by Conama, resolution that allows burning of agrochemicals packages comes into effect

According to experts, industrial ovens are not environmentally adequate

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

9 Oct 20

Approved by Conama, resolution that allows burning of agrochemicals packages comes into effect

After the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, used the 135th meeting of the National Environment Council (Conama) to revoke fundamental measures for environmental protection, the new rule established at the meeting on burning of pesticide packaging came into force on October, 9th. Now, the material, as well as pesticide residues, can be incinerated in industrial ovens for the production of cement, eliminating previous determinations that defined the proper environmental disposal of this material. For specialists heard by the G1 portal, the ovens are not suitable for burning, as they can release soot and gases harmful to people and animals into the air.

Other measures established by Conama have not yet been made official, such as the suspension of resolutions 302 and 303, both from 2002, concerning the protection of mangroves and sandbank vegetation. After the Supreme Federal Court (STF) summoned Salles to provide information about the decision, the minister signed off on a document from the Ministry of Environment’s technicians claiming that “there is no harm to the environment” with the new rules. Resolution 284 (2001) is also in dispute at the supreme court. The resolution ends federal rules for the environmental licensing of agricultural irrigation projects, answering a demand from part of the agribusiness sector.

“Firefighter Cattle”

Minister Teresa Cristina says more stock farming could stop Pantanal’s devastation

Credits: Antonio Araujo/via CC BY-NC 2.0

9 Oct 20

“Firefighter Cattle”

While Pantanal wetlands face record breaking rates of forest fires, Agriculture Minister Teresa Cristina stated that the problem could be mitigated if there was more livestock activity in the biome. She also said that the devastation was because of the sizeable amount of “dry organic matter” in the region. The minister’s speech alludes to the “thesis” of the “firefighter cattle”, presented by the livestock leader Leopoldo Mário in an article in Folha de S. Paulo in September. The farmer stated that cattle would be the “fireman of the Pantanal” for cleaning up the pasture, and defended the permission of controlled burning as a measure to reduce fires in the region.

According to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), 14% of the Pantanal area was burned only in September, a historical record of annual devastation since the beginning of the monitoring work carried out by the agency in 2002. In addition to the drought that marked the period, data from the Integrated Multiagencies Center for Operational Coordination of Mato Grosso (Ciman-MT) point out that the fires recorded in the state were caused by intentional human action. According to an analysis by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), INPE’s partner in monitoring the region affected by the fires, the fires consumed 26% of the total area of ​​the Pantanal in 2020, from January to September.

Kayapó people present  manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Illegal gold mining in Kayapó lands, Pará State

Crédito: Divulgação/ISA

8 Oct 20

Kayapó people present manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Leaders from 56 Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre indigenous communities, representing over 6,200 people, released a manifesto against Bill of Law (PL) 191/2020, proposed by the federal government. The PL regulates mining on indigenous lands, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants. In the manifesto, the Kayapó say that mining would threaten the environmental preservation in their communities and the traditional way of life. “We repudiate the way the federal government has been encouraging the invasion of our territories, either by the rhetoric that strengthens organized crime, or by the omission and weakening of the institutios responsible for protecting indigenous territories and by combating illegal and predatory activities”, says the manifesto. 

The NGO World Resources Institute (WRI) denounced the problem on a global scale with the publication of the report “Undermining Rights: Indigenous Lands and Mining in the Amazon”, on the impact of gold mining on indigenous populations in Amazonian countries, including Brazil. The document — which provides an estimate of the total extent of large-scale mining concessions and illegal operations in indigenous territories within the rainforest — also points to favoring, by national laws, of companies over indigenous communities, according to an evaluation study of six Amazonian countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

Brasil was mentioned as an example of bad policies

Credit: Jorisvo/iStock

7 Oct 20

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

The European Parliament approved an amendment in a report about the application of the continent’s trade agreement reinforcing the need for changes in the environmental policies of the Mercosur countries – in particular, Brazil – in order for the treaty with the European Union to materialize.

The first version of the report, proposed by French deputies, named Bolsonaro’s policies. Although his name was deleted in the final report,  the text reflects the growing tension  between France and Brazil around the environmental agenda. The group of parliamentarians expressed “ deep concern about the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro, which is incompatible with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, namely to fight global warming and protect biodiversity”, according to newspaper Valor Econômico. In its analysis, the newspaper said that although the amendment has no veto power, in practical terms, “the need for additional guarantees by the Bolsonaro government in the environmental area will be essential for Europeans to move to ratify or not the bi-regional agreement.“ In September, Vice President Hamilton Mourão received a letter signed by ambassadors from eight European countries – Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium – that criticizes the government’s environmental policy and signals the departure of investors and companies from Brazil in response to the environmental crisis.

Bernie Sanders criticizes US role in projects that endanger traditional communities in Brazil

Sanders and other US congress members pressure Brazil

Crédito: AFGE/via CC BY 2.0

7 Oct 20

Bernie Sanders criticizes US role in projects that endanger traditional communities in Brazil

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders criticized President Bolsonaro’s environmental policy for putting indigenous and the African-Brazilian quilombolas populations at risk.

In September, together with other US congress members, Sanders signed a letter stating that “under no circumstances should US taxpayers’ money be used to evict centuries-old indigenous and quilombola communities”. The group calls for an amendment to the annual budget allocated by the United States for Defense to prevent the USA government from pursuing projects in Brazil that put these populations at risk. The Congress approved the proposition in the first instance and is awaiting a resolution from the US Senate.

As a background to the claim, there is the desire by the Trump administration to use part of this budget in research and satellite launches at the Alcântara Launch Center, in Maranhão, the “Alcântara Base”, as it is called in the public debate. Environmentalists, civil society organizations and social movements criticize the project for violating the rights of indigenous and quilombolas, since it will cause the removal of thousands of families from the region and restrict sea access to local inhabitants.

Environmental offenders hold public office and run for local elections in Amazon states

Names on Ibama’s “dirty list” might gain more power in the 2020 elections

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

7 Oct 20

Environmental offenders hold public office and run for local elections in Amazon states

A former logging company owner, defendant in an environmental crime charge, became director of the Acre’s Institute for the Environment and Climate Analysis (Imac), the state agency responsible for “preventing and encouraging the preservation of the environment”. The State Official Gazette ratified the nomination on October 2, according to G1 news. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) denounced Adelaide de Fátima Oliveira for fraudulent misrepresentation, for making public inspection difficult on environmental issues and for acquiring lumber without a valid license. According to the complaint, in 2014, the former businesswoman instructed employees to insert false information into the control system used for issuing Forest Origin Documents (SisDOF) in an attempt to falsify the legality of the lumber she was selling. The same procedure also might have happened in 2015, in another company that she owned. Questioned by the G1 portal, Oliveira declined to comment.

In other states of the Legal Amazon region, several environmental offenders already occupy public positions, and the situation may worsen with the upcoming municipal elections in November 2020. The investigative journalism outlet Agência Pública made a study that shows that 118 candidates for mayor were fined for environmental crimes committed in the region in the last ten years. Of these, 51 are in office. Out of the 28 running for re-election, 12 are farmers, ranchers or loggers.

Among the politicians fined by Ibama, Pública found mayors of municipalities in the State of Pará who gained national attention for what became known as the “Day of Fire”, on August 10th, 2019 – Valmir Climaco (MDB), from Itaituba; Raimundo Batista Santiago (PSC), from Jacareacanga; Valdinei José Ferreira (PL) and his deputy, Maurício de Lima Santos (PL), from Trairão; Ubiraci Soares Silva (PL) and his deputy, Gelson Luiz Dill (MDB), from Novo Progresso. Publica also listed candidates for mayors and vice-mayors from states outside the Amazon who have environmental fines for crimes committed in the region. The states of Goiás, Ceará, São Paulo, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pernambuco and Paraná have 11 candidates, and six of them are running for reelection.

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

São José Farm in São Félix do Xingu (PA), one of the properties responsible for the “Day of the Fire” supply cattle to both agro-giants

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

5 Oct 20

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

A Greenpeace report released on the one-year anniversary of the event known as “Day of Fire”, when a coordinated action by farmers caused a 1,923% increase in forest fires in Amazon’s Pará State, showed that forest fires-causing properties are part of the supply chain of Marfrig and JBS, Brazilian multinationals and the two largest meat producers in the world. Greenpeace also found connections between properties that provide cattle to the companies with slave labor. The document points out the São José farm, in the municipality of São Félix do Xingu, Bacuri and Santa Rosa farms, both in Altamira. The latter two supplied indirectly to slaughterhouses — meaning that they sell to properties that pass produce on to the sector’s giants. JBS informed that São José is no longer part of its distribution chain. The report also points out that only 5.7% of the 478 properties with active fire on Fire Day received fines. 

Meanwhile, international pressure grows. Parknshop, Hong Kong’s largest supermarket chain, said it would no longer buy meat from JBS. In the United Kingdom, a public consultation may pass a new legislation that increases the severity of regulation to products that come from areas of deforestation. 23 food giants – like McDonald’s, Mondeléz and Nestlé – wrote a letter to the government calling for greater control over the entry of produce from deforested areas. The British company M&S also announced, in late September, that it will no longer use soy in any of its products to combat deforestation in Brazil.

New campaign to curb illegal gold mining and trade

Market demand drives illegal gold mining in the Amazon

Credit: Daniel Beltrá/Greenpeace

4 Oct 20

New campaign to curb illegal gold mining and trade

In October, Instituto Escolhas launched the campaign “Where does gold come from?” to pressure global market regulation and oversight in the face of increased demand for safer assets such as gold amid the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative states that the gold boom in the international market stimulates the advance of illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon, reaching Conservation Units (UCs) and Indigenous Lands (TIs), thus  increasing the exposure of communities to the virus. Due to current lack of regulation, financial institutions trade gold extracted illegally on a regular basis. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Brazilian gold exports grew 30.5% from January to August and 2020, compared to the period in the previous year. To curb the purchase of illegal gold, the campaign will forward a proposal for regulation – in public consultation until November 3rd – to the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission (CNV), which regulates the capital market in Brazil.

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Excerpt from the report shown on Fantástico

Crédito: Fantástico/Rede Globo/Reproduction

4 Oct 20

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Videos recorded in 2019 by indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá, in Dourados (MS), show an armored bulldozer advancing against a camp. The vehicle is yet another weapon of ruralists in the region to attack the 450 Guarani-Kaiowá families who occupy the territory and claim the demarcation of their lands. A report by Fantástico, from Rede Globo TV, revealed the images. The tractor-tank, nicknamed after the war-grade vehicles used by the military police to invade favelas in Rio de Janeiro, is also used to fire rubber bullets, gas canisters and live ammunition against indigenous and small farmers. An elderly Guarani-Kaiowá woman, aged 75, had both of her legs broken when the vehicle hit a tent. According to CIMI, the Indigenist Missionary Council, records of violence against indigenous people more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 while President Jair Bolsonaro has strictly followed his promise not to demarcate “an inch” of indigenous land during his term.

Rise in deforestation reopens  debate about  restructuring at the Ministry of the Environment

The reform is seen as a way to minimize international backlash over environmental policies

Crédito: Rogerio Florentino/Greenpeace

2 Oct 20

Rise in deforestation reopens debate about restructuring at the Ministry of the Environment

After Brazil experienced record levels of deforestation in the Amazon and Pantanal, added to the negative international repercussions of the administration of minister Ricardo Salles, the government and the business sector started discussing, once again, administrative reforms in the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), as a response to the environmental crisis. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, agribusiness entrepreneurs, allied with sectors of the government, started in June a joint effort to pressure for the merger of the MMA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa), one of Bolsonaro’s promises on being elected. These economic groups see the measure as a way to ease Brazil’s image abroad, by transferring the leadership of Brazilian environmental policy to the Amazon Council, led by Vice President Hamilton Mourão. Mourão, in turn, although seen as a solution, has made frequent attacks on the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), responsible for monitoring deforestation in the country. He accused Inpe officials of opposing the federal government due to official data that point to an increase in fires in 2020. Also, according to the report, representatives of slaughterhouses and exporters are leading ​​the merger, who fear losing the international market. 

Another potential merger is also on the agenda: of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity (ICMBio). On October 2nd, the creation of a Working Group (WG) for “analysis of synergies and efficiency gains” in the event of joining the control agencies was published in the Official Gazette of the Union, with 120 days to study the decision, counting from the first meeting. In a statement, the National Association of Environmental Servers (Ascema-Nacional) evaluates the merger as “totally inopportune and problematic” and questions the composition of the WG, with “military police officers and political nominees linked to the ruralist caucus who have no knowledge environmental agenda“. The text calls attention to the systematic dismantling of the Ministry of the Environment promoted by minister Ricardo Salles, “in the sense of weakening and delegitimizing the Environment agencies, and the militarization of Brazilian environmental policy. In September, the association published the report” Chronology of a Disaster Announced “, which brings together actions by Jair Bolsonaro and his government, covering the pre-election period, in 2018, until August 2020.

In first US presidential debate, Biden threatens Brazil over Amazon deforestation

Biden had already criticized Bolsonaro’s environmental policies

Crédito: Gage Skidmore/via CC BY-SA 2.0

30 Sep 20

In first US presidential debate, Biden threatens Brazil over Amazon deforestation

During the first debate of the US presidential race on September 29th,  Democratic candidate Joe Biden, while addressing climate change, mentioned Brazil  and questioned the leadership role north-americans should be playing on the issue. “The Amazon forest in Brazil is being destroyed (….) I will try to make sure that countries around the world come up with US$20 billion and say (…) stop destroying the forest. If you don’t, will face significant economic consequences”, said Biden, without going into detail of what would be those consequences. 

On the following day, president Bolsonaro strongly reacted to Biden’s comments, posting on Facebook that he took it as a menace of economic sanctions against Brazil. International news wires reported that Bolsonaro wrote in Portuguese and English that he won’t accept “bribes” or “coward threats” and reaffirmed that the Brazilian government was acting against deforestation, and that “foreign interests in the Amazon” are a danger to national sovereignty. 

Salles uses environmental council to deregulate protective norms

135th Conama meeting was marked by anti-environment policies

Crédito: Gilberto Soares/MMA/Handout

28 Sep 20

Salles uses environmental council to deregulate protective norms

“The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, fulfilled this Monday, at the 135th meeting of Conama, part of his promise to end environmental protection rules that, in his opinion, hinder the lives of businessmen and large agribusiness corporations. And, using the metaphor that the minister himself used during an April ministerial meeting, he ‘passed the cattle herd’ over some of these rules. During a meeting of the National Environment Council (Conama), on Monday (28), he removed the protection of about 1.6 million hectares of restingas [sandbanks] and mangroves across the country. These are areas of permanent preservation close to the Brazilian coast that arouse interest from the real estate sector and shrimp producers.“.

That was how El País Brasil summed up the 135ª Conama meeting, on September, 28.

Conama, a consultative and deliberative council on environmental policies, underwent profound changes right from the start of Ricardo Salles’ term. In May 2019, he reduced the number of council members from 96 to 23. In the distribution of seats, which now is made by lot and no longer nomination or voting, the minister put the majority of votes in the hands of the federal government (43%) and the productive sectors (8%). NGOs, unions, social and indigenous movements, universities and representatives of states and municipalities lost space and ended up having only 49% of the votes in the new composition.

Taking advantage of the control over Conama in the meeting, the government:

– Repealed resolutions 302 and 303, from 2002, which established protection of mangroves and sandbanks, fundamental areas for the balance and preservation of biodiversity; with the argument that the Forest Code already regulates the occupation of these areas. The maneuver removes the only licensing instruments to benefit the real estate/tourism and shrimp farmers;

– Revoked resolution 284/2001, ending federal rules for environmental licensing of agricultural irrigation projects and meeting the demands of part of the agribusiness;

– Approved a new rule allowing the incineration in industrial ovens of packaging and remnants of pesticides for the production of cement, eliminating the regulations that defined adequate environmental disposal of the material.

Before the meeting, environmentalists, congressmen and federal prosecutors asked for the removal of those items from the agenda; a lawsuit called for the suspension of the reunion, without success. UOL pointed out that “the result clearly exposes the way the government started to control an organ that, due to its mission and history, has always had a technical and independent composition”.

As soon as the Minister revoked those regulations, members of the parliament went to court to overturn the decisions and filed a suit at the Supreme Federal Court (STF) and in the Chamber of Deputies. On the 29th, the Federal Court of Rio suspended the 135th meeting of Conama and all its acts and revocations. The injunction of the 23rd Federal Criminal Court upheld a request for popular action against Conama’s measures. The Federal Attorney General appealed and a federal court overturned the injunction on October 2nd. On October 1st, Justice Rosa Weber, from the STF, gave minister Salles a 48-hour period to provide information about Conama’s decisions.

Indigenous and quilombola groups organize against impacts of major infrastructure works in Pará State

Kayapós indigenous block highway BR-163 in Novo Progresso, Pará

Crédito: Instituto Kabu/Handout

23 Sep 20

Indigenous and quilombola groups organize against impacts of major infrastructure works in Pará State

In August 2020, a protest by Kayapo indigenous groups blocked highway BR-163, that connects Cuiabá (Mato Grosso state) to Santarém (Pará state) to demand the renewal of the Basic Environmental Plan – Indigenous Chapter (PBA-CI) linked to the environmental licensing necessary for the road construction, which started in 2008. Even considering health risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the organized indigenous groups occupied BR-163 by the Novo Progreso Municipality in Pará, one of the main agricultural produce transport routes in the country. A federal judge issued an injunction allowing the Road Police to remove the blockade. After a week of occupation, the indigenous left and decided to wait for a court ruling on the matter. 

A month later,  the pressure seemed to have worked: in September, a judge ruled in favour of the indigenous and ordered the federal government to renew the PBA-CI to minimize and compensate damages of the road construction, according to a report by Repórter Brasil. The measures of the PBA include community protection and control of Indigenous Lands Menkragnoti, Baú and Panará and support to develop sustainable economic activities in the area influenced by highway BR-163. 

In another community-based resistance initiative in Pará, on September 17th, the Federation of Quilombola Organizations in Santarém (FOQS) issued a formal request to assist the civil inquiry led by the Federal and State Prosecution offices against the construction of a fuel harbour by company Atem’s Petrol Distribution. Although 97% of the construction is already finished, a federal judge ruling in May stopped the building of the port.

Large farms concentrate the majority of hotspots and deforestation rates in the Amazon and Pantanal

Impacts of September/2020 forest fires in Pantanal

Credit: Leandro Cagiano/Greenpeace

23 Sep 20

Large farms concentrate the majority of hotspots and deforestation rates in the Amazon and Pantanal

A report by the Amazon Research Institute (Ipam) based on a NASA platform and released in early August already hinted at what was coming: in the Amazon, 71% of the burnings in rural properties — between January and June 2020 — occurred for agricultural management (in previously deforested areas) and 24% were forest fires in areas of native vegetation (which are usually a “side effect” of agricultural management fires). The report also pointed that half of the hot spots happened in medium and large rural properties.

Similar figures appear in the analysis of the Smoke Curtain project, launched on September 23 by Ambiental Media in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. According to the survey, medium and large rural properties accounted for 72% of the hot spots that occurred in 2019 in the four main critical areas of the Amazon deforestation frontier. Altamira (PA), São Félix do Xingu (PA), Porto Velho (RO) and Lábrea (AM) concentrated 17.5% of deforestation between August 2018 and July 2019 in the region. They also top the list of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) of the municipalities with most forest fires in the last year. To obtain the results, the Smoke Curtain project compared official public data on deforestation and fires from Inpe with the base of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), which maps rural properties.

In the Pantanal, a survey by the NGOs Repórter Brasil and Instituto Centro e Vida (ICV) showed that outbreaks of fires started in nine farms in the biome destroyed over 141,000 hectares of vegetation. Operation Matàà identified four of those farms in an investigation conducted by the Federal Police in Mato Grosso do Sul State. The other five large properties are located in Mato Grosso. The survey carried out by the NGOs compared data from the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) with satellite images from Inpe and NASA.

Under pressure from investors, JBS tries to unlink itself from deforestation

São José Farm, in Pará State, supplier of cattle to JBS, had hotspots during the “Day of the Fire”, on August, 2019

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

23 Sep 20

Under pressure from investors, JBS tries to unlink itself from deforestation

The record increase in fires and deforestation rates is reducing Brazil’s attractiveness for foreign investors. According to the newspaper O Globo, in the first eight months of 2020, more than US$15 billion in capitals left the country, the highest volume since 1982. Analysts and managers believe that the environmental crisis may worsen this situation. In an audience at the Supreme Federal Court (STF) on climate change on the 22nd, the former president of the Central Bank, Armínio Fraga, spoke about the worsening of Brazil’s image abroad: “Deforestation and other environmental crimes, in addition to aggravating the global problem, bring enormous risk to the agribusiness ecosystem, our most successful sector, and also to the energy supply in our country “.

Sensing the pressure, on the 23rd, JBS, the largest animal protein producer in the world, launched a plan to “increase the siege on the beef supply chain (…) to ensure that the meat that reaches the consumer does not contribute to the overthrow of the Amazon: the suppliers of their suppliers“. The so-called “Green Platform JBS” intends to use blockchain technology to process data from all farms, whether owned by direct or indirect suppliers to verify compliance with social-environmental legislation. JBS (owner of the Friboi and Seara brands) also announced the creation of a fund with an initial value of R$ 250 million to finance conservation and economic development actions in the region.

JBS ‘“Green Platform” plans to have full control of direct and indirect cattle suppliers by 2025. Environmentalists recognized the importance of the plan but criticized the five-year deadline to clean up the production chain and questioned the company’s ability to carry out such measures without support from the government.

Nordic investment funds Nordea Asset and KLP, which have already banned JBS from their portfolios, also consider that the proposal presented by the company has a term “too long to be satisfactory”. With R$ 3.4 trillion of assets in its portfolio, the Finnish Nordea Asset banned JBS from its portfolio in July, after a joint press investigation revealed that the slaughterhouse bought cattle raised in an area of ​​deforestation in the Amazon.

An investigation by the NGO Repórter Brasil, disclosed on the eve of the announcement by the agribusiness giant, reaffirmed the problems in the JBS production chain. Part of the fire that devastated Mato Grosso’s Pantanal originated from ranchers’ farms that sell cattle to the Amaggi and Bom Futuro groups, which supply not only to JBS but also to other multinationals like Marfrig and Minerva. The survey was based on a study by the NGO Instituto Centro e Vida, which identified the origin of the fires in five properties in Mato Grosso, analyzing fire hotspots between July 1 and August 17, 2020.

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Illegal gold diggers invasion in Yanomami lands on May, 2020

Crédito: Chico Batata

23 Sep 20

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Covid-19 has infected over 700 Yanomami have already, according to a September 22 bulletin from the Special Yanomami Indigenous Sanitary District (Dsei-Y). Seven indigenous individuals died in six different villages of the Yanomami Indigenous Land (IL). According to the District’s Indigenous Health Council (Condisi-Y), the federal government has not sent medics and medicines to the territory. Junior Yanomami, head of Condisi-Y, said that the government has abandoned the indigenous and that the health structure for the district is insufficient, having only one health professional for each 1,000 indigenous residents.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health denied the abandonment and mentioned an inter-ministerial mission that visited the Yanomami IL in June to fight the pandemic. The expedition became the target of a Federal Prosecution investigation for suspicion of violation of the isolation measures adopted by the communities, and also for distributing hydroxychloroquine — an unproven medication — to the indigenous to treat the coronavirus.

With over 9,000 hectares, the IL Yanomami is the largest in Brazil and sprawls across the states of Roraima and Amazonas. There are 26,780 indigenous living on the reservation. Besides the Covid-19 pandemic, the Yanomami also face high incidence of malaria, a tropical disease endemic to the Amazon and transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria is a comorbidity that increases the death rate for coronavirus among indigenous peoples. According to data from Condisi -Y, between January 1st and August 12th, 2020, over 13,000 cases of malaria were reported in the Yanomami indigenous lands, with 9 deaths. In August, the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network, which is monitoring the pandemic inside the indigenous territory, informed that out of all Covid-19 confirmed deaths, three were also malaria patients.

The rise in malaria and Covid-19 cases is related to the invasion of illegal gold diggers, that promote deforestation and spread diseases. Around 20,000 illegal gold diggers have entered the reservation this year alone. In June, the campaign against gold digging at Yanomami lands, #ForaGarimpoForaCovid, was launched with the aim to gather 500,000 signatures. The initiative is a joint effort between ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute), Yanomami Leadership Forum and Ye’kwana; and from Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY), Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (SEDUUME), Yanomami Kumirayoma Women Association (AMYK), Association Texoli Ninam from Roraima State (TANER) and Yanomami Association from Cauaburis river and Affluents (AYRCA).

Crisis at Ministry of the Environment deepens with accusations from workers and militarization of key positions

The dismantling of the Ministry is being denounced since Salles took office

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

22 Sep 20

Crisis at Ministry of the Environment deepens with accusations from workers and militarization of key positions

On September 4,  Ascema, the National Association of Environmental Public Servants presented a dossier called “Chronology of a disaster in waiting: Bolsonaro’s government action to dismantle environmental policies in Brazil”. The document details the dismantling of the governance structure of the Ministry of the Environment and its agencies Ibama and ICMBio since 2018, and it was sent by Ascema to the National Congress, to the UN and to NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  

Even under growing pressure, the Minister of the Environment announced fresh changes to the structure of the ministry. On the 21st,  the minister replaced the head of the Biodiversity Secretary and nominated a former agribusiness lobbyist to run the recently created Secretary of the Amazon and Environmental Services

On the 22nd, minister Ricardo Salles confirmed the nomination of Military Police Colonel Fernando Cesar Lorencini as the new president for ICMBio. He has occupied the position provisionally since August; his nomination was published in the Official Diary of the Union signed by Minister Braga Netto, president’s Bolsonaro Chief of Staff.  Besides the military ranking at the head of a biodiversity agency, colonel Lorencini’s nomination drew attention because he was part of the police squad involved in the massacre of the Carandiru Public Prison in 1992 in São Paulo, when the police raid ended with 111 inmates killed.

In speech at UNGA, Bolsonaro lies about Brazilian environmental crisis

“We are leaders of rainforest conservation”, said the president while epic fires ravage Brazil

Crédito: TV Brasil/Reproduction

22 Sep 20

In speech at UNGA, Bolsonaro lies about Brazilian environmental crisis

On September 21st, on the eve of Bolsonaro’s speech at the UN General Assembly, Brazilian chancellor Ernesto Araújo refused to accept a debate, promoted by United Nations Human Rights Council, about the crisis in the Amazon.  According to reports by the website UOL, directly from the UN in Geneva, the diplomat was reacting to the fact that for the first time in its democratic period Brazil became the target of an official recommendation for an international investigation on the federal government policies for the environment and human rights in Brazil. 

It was amid this awkward atmosphere of attacks from the Brazilian diplomacy to the UN that president Bolsonaro took his pre-recorded speech to the opening ceremony of the 75th UN General Assembly on the 22nd. During a roughly 14 minutes speech, Bolsonaro defended his government’s performance on the environment, blamed indigenous and traditional communities for the record forest fires this season, and complained that Brazil was a victim of an international misinformation campaign about deforestation. He also claimed that the country has the best environmental legislation of the planet and is a leader on “forest conservation”. The president used the opportunity to defend the agribusiness sector and deny the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately affected indigenous and quilombola communities. 

Civil society organizations such as the Climate Observatory (OC) prepared to fact-check the president’s statements in real time, and detected a high number of lies and fake news. In a press release, OC said that “by simultaneously denying the environmental crisis and the pandemic, the president provides a soundtrack for divestment and cancelling of international trade agreements in a critical post-Covid 19 time of economic recovery”. WWF-Brazil said that Bolsonaro made unfounded accusations and anti-science conclusions that are not aligned with the role of a Chief of State.  Buzzfeed published a test about what was real and what was fake in the Brazilian president’s speech at the UN.

Campaign aims to reduce forest fires in Santarém (PA)

Initiative raises awareness about safe use of fires for preparing the soil

Crédito: Projeto Saúde & Alegria/Handout

21 Sep 20

Campaign aims to reduce forest fires in Santarém (PA)

The campaign “United community preserves life” was launched in Santarém, Pará State, with the aim of preventing accidental forest fires that originate from controlled bush burning practised by small farmers and traditional

Amazon communities. The initiative offers guidance on how to prepare the soil with safety and how to get permits from related authorities and introducing techniques for cultivating without using fire. Many local stakeholders got together to run the campaign, including federal Institute Chico Mendes for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and its field programs at the Tapajos National Forest and Extractivist Reserve (Resex) Tapajós-Arapiuns, Pará state Civil Guard, the 4th Fire Department and community groups such as the Federation of the Tapajos National Forest, The Resex-Tapajoara Organization and NGOs such as Projeto Saúde e Alegria. 

 One year ago, forest fires in the Santarém and Alter do Chão regions gained international attention after a state police inquiry led to the preventive arrest of voluntary firefighters (brigadistas) that worked with environmental NGOs in the region.  In August 2020, after months of official investigation, the Federal Police dismissed the participation of the brigadistas in the forest fires.

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

Authorities, experts, civil society and government officials were invited

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

21 Sep 20

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

On September 21 and 22, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) held a virtual public hearing to discuss the Brazilian environmental crisis and the global context of climate emergency. Justice Luís Roberto Barroso summoned the hearing as the rapporteur of a suit brought by four parties (Rede, PSOL, PSB and PT), that accuses the Ministry of the Environment of paralysing, since 2019, the National Fund on Climate Change, one of the main financing instruments in the fight against global warming.

Barroso invited dozens of authorities and experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and government to create an overview of the country’s environmental situation. For the minister, the fund situation illustrates a set of actions and omissions that may represent a general state of unconstitutionality. The hearing began on the eve of President Bolsonaro’s speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Among the authorities present, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that the fires in the Amazon hinder Brazilian agribusiness abroad. The Minister of Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, recognized the relationship between forest fires and global warming. The Minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI), General Augusto Heleno, defended the federal government’s role in the environmental agenda, saying that there was no omission and that critics want to attack President Bolsonaro. Repeating arguments from other sectors of the government, Heleno criticized the work of NGOs, accusing them of serving foreign and ideological interests and repeated that the causes of forest fires are natural.

The question of mining in the Amazon was also on the agenda; Heleno defended the regularization of mining activities inside indigenous lands.

Smoke from fires in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal reaches the South and Southeast of Brazil

Hotspots in Novo Progresso, Pará State, in satellite images of the Deter/Inpe system, August/2020

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

20 Sep 20

Smoke from fires in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal reaches the South and Southeast of Brazil

Smoke from the forest fires in Amazon, Pantanal and Cerrado reached the South and Southern regions of the country at the end of Winter season in subequatorial Brazil. On September 14th,  residents from São Francisco de Assis, in Rio Grande do Sul state, collected dark water from the rains that fell over the region. Experts heard by the press said that the phenomena could be a result from the Pantanal fires. The state of Santa Catarina also saw the occurrence of dark rain.

On September 18th, satellite images from Inpe showed that clouds of smoke and soot from forest fires in the Center-west of the country arrived in São Paulo state. On the same day,  an airplane in which president Bolsonaro and his entourage were travelling had to make a forced lash out when trying to land at Sinop airport in Mato Grosso state due to lack of visibility caused by smoke from forest fires in the region.  The management for the airport confirmed that there was smoke at the time of the landing. Right after the episode, in a speech to an audience of local representatives of the agribusiness sector, president Bolsonaro once again complained about the critics of Brazilian environmental policies and insinuated vested economic interests against the country.  

A day later, on the 19th, new satellite images from Inpe showed that smoke from the forest fires had spread throughout more than 4,000 km, affecting at least five neighbouring countries – Peru, Bolivia, Paraguai, Argentina and Uruguay.

Government declares war on Inpe for monitoring deforestation

VP once again shows contempt for Inpe

Crédito: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

20 Sep 20

Government declares war on Inpe for monitoring deforestation

On September 15th, vice president Hamilton Mourão accused public servant experts from Inpe, the National Institute on Space Research, of making political opposition to the federal government. According to the VP, positive results about reducing forest fires were not being publicized by the Institute — that is the federal organ in charge of monitoring deforestation in Brazil.  “Someone from the inside is opposing the government. I want to make this very clear here”, he said, citing official data that showed that the country registered 5,000 fire hotspots less in 2020 compared to the same period on January-August 2019. However, data from Inpe contradicts the VP’s narrative, indicating that there were more fires in the Amazon in the first two weeks of September 2020 (20,485 hotspots) than for the entire month of September in 2019 (19,925 hotspots). 

According to satellite monitoring experts, Inpe’s system is unique in the world, allowing real time follow up, data transparency and civil society participation. 

Beyond the attacks coming from the presidential wing, in an inquiry at the Unions Finance Court (TCU) about the purchase of satellite images, the Federal Police declared that Inpe provoques disinformation against new monitoring initiatives in order to maintain control over the narrative and knowledge of deforestation in Brazil. The Federal Police also called Inpe’s work “insufficient” and accused it of not doing enough for public safety. On September 19th, finance court minister Ana Arraes suspended the R$49 million reais contract between the Federal Police and satellite company Planet, alleging that the purchased system does not aggregate advantages when compared to the technology already in use by Inpe. The contract between the Federal Police and the company Planet was funded by the Ministry of Justice. 

Three days later, Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment announced an international deal with Kongsberg Satellite Services together with companies Planet and Airbus to supply free, universal access to tropical forest satellite monitoring in the world, including Brazil. According to the Norwegian government, Planet will supply high resolution maps and monthly updated information for visualization and download, as informed by website O Eco.

Government antagonizes environmentalists campaigns and threatens indigenous organization

Campaign by Brazilian activists got international attention

Credit: Defund Bolsonaro/Handout

18 Sep 20

Government antagonizes environmentalists campaigns and threatens indigenous organization

Fake news, misinformation and accusations of crimes against the homeland: that was how members of the Bolsonaro government reacted to campaigns and denunciations by civil society about deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal regions. President Bolsonaro set the tone of the reaction: in his weekly live broadcast on September 3, he compared NGOs working in defense of the Amazon to a “cancer”.

The president referred to the movement launched by Brazilian activists at the end of August with the motto “Defund Bolsonaro”, which angered government supporters. The campaign video says that Bolsonaro allows the destruction of the Amazon with the support of large companies and ends with the challenge: “Which side are you on? The Amazon or Bolsonaro?”. Civil society entities such as the Climate Observatory and the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (APIB) helped to disseminate the material. There was an organized movement to bring down the initiative’s Instagram profile. According to a report in the newspaper O Globo, messages with instructions to report the campaign circulated in WhatsApp groups on September 6th.

On the 9th, the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, Vice President Hamilton Mourão and Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro shared a “video response” that declared that the Amazon was not burning, withheld data from National Space Research Institute (Inpe) and used images of the tamarin golden lion, an endangered species that lives only in the Atlantic Rainforest, thousands of miles away from the Amazon. The video had English narration and was signed by the ruralist association of Pará State. Part of the images that appear in the ruralist video were from the Greenpeace collection and, therefore, used without authorization. The NGO requested the takedown of the video for infringing copyrights and the piece ended up being removed from Twitter.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, meanwhile, retweeted the original “Defund Bolsonaro” video, generating a new wave of reactions. The government’s denialist speech was countered by NGOs and experts with data from Inpe who pointed out that the number of hot spots in the Amazon between January 1 and September 9, 2020, is the highest in the last ten years, with a 6% growth when compared to 2019.

On September 13, false posts on social networks accused NGOs of being responsible for the fires in the Amazon. The posts used a 2014 photo of indigenous people arresting illegal loggers as if the image was current and the detainees were members of NGOs. Several fact-checking agencies pointed to the posts as fake news.

The following week, it was the turn of General Augusto Heleno, chief minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI) of the Presidency of the Republic, to attack Apib for supporting the Defund Bolsonaro campaign. In a post published on his social media profiles, Heleno accused Apib of being the organization behind the campaign website, whose objectives would be “to publish fake news against Brazil, to impute environmental crimes to the President of the Republic and to support a worldwide boycott against Brazilian products”. The general also affirmed that Sônia Bone Guajajara, coordinator of Apib, is linked to Leonardo DiCaprio, “a staunch critic of the country” and concluded by saying that “the Apib website is associated with several others who work 24 hours a day to tarnish our image on abroad and commit crimes against the homeland“.

In a note, Apib rejected the general’s statement, saying that “the biggest crime that harms our country is the government’s failure to curb the destruction of our biomes, aid protected areas, stop illegal fires, land grabbing, deforestation and the invasion of our lands and theft of our wealth. On the eve of the UN General Assembly, the whole world is witnessing this crime – too big to be concealed (…). The accusations, besides being frivolous and misleading, are irresponsible because they put at risk the personal safety of those mentioned. Apib will study the appropriate measures“.

Brazilian environmental crisis puts EU-Mercosur agreement under threat

Tensão em torno do acordo já estava presente na última reunião do G20, em 2019.

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/Via Agência Brasil

18 Sep 20

Brazilian environmental crisis puts EU-Mercosur agreement under threat

The rumours that European countries would block the EU-Mercosur trade agreement due to the Brazilian environmental crisis were getting steam among european diplomats in June 2020 according to reports from El País. By late August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had “considerable doubts”  about her support for the agreement because of the rise in Amazon deforestation. 

In September, while Brazil broke new records on forest fires and deforestation rates, the trade agreement was once again threatened, and pressure from corporations and investment funds over the Brazilian government also increased.

On the 09th, an international team of researchers from universities of Oxford (UK), Louvain (Belgium) and Columbia (USA) published a critical analysis of the EU-Mercosur agreement saying that the text of the deal does not secure mechanisms for transparency, sanction and inclusion of local communities, going against environmental regulations from the European Union. The study indicates that the agreement fails to guarantee sustainable chains of production. In that same week, the International Trade Commission from the European Parliament issued a motion demanding more protection rules on the block trade agreements, in yet another sign of the obstacles to ratifying the treaty. 

A week later, on September 15th, two significant open letters tried to exert pressure on the Brazilian government. VP Hamilton Mourao received a document signed by ambassadors from 8 European nations — Germany, UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium — with a clear message: “Brazil is making it harder and harder for corporations and investors to comply with their environmental, social and governance criteria”. The countries who sent the letter take part in the Amsterdam Declaration, a partnership among nations to promote sustainable chains of production that prevent forest destruction.

In the other letter, a coalition formed by 230 organizations and companies linked to agribusiness and environment published a set of six proposals to stop Amazon deforestation. The document was sent to president Bolsonaro, VP Mourão, Federal Ministers, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, and embassies and members of the European Parliament. “Not only because of the social-environmental losses, but also because of the threats that forest destruction poses to the national economy. There is a clear and growing concern about deforestation from several sectors of national and international society”,  states the letter signed by the Coalition, which includes NGOs such as WWF and agribusiness companies such as JBS, Marfrig, Basf and Bayer. 

Meanwhile, in France, over 20 civil society organizations issued a statement on the 16th demanding the “final burial” of the EU-Mercosur treaty because of the “disastrous impacts” on forests, climate and human rights. The NGOs manifest came out on the eve of a technical report commissioned by the French government on the effects of the commercial agreement. 

On the 18th,  the French government report was published.  According to reports on the 184 page-study by independent experts on economy and the environment, it concludes that “the agreement is a missed opportunity by the EU to use its negotiation power to obtain solid safeguards that respond to the environmental, sanitary and social expectations of its citizens”. The experts estimate that deforestation in Mercosur countries could accelerate by 5% per year due to higher demand for beef in the EU,  increasing greenhouse gas emissions and questioning whether the relative financial gains of the agreement could compensate for the climate damage it would generate. 

Upon the release of the study, president Emmanuel Macron’s government confirmed it will maintain opposition to the treaty as it stands, a position they have been sustaining since 2019, and that it is willing to renegotiate the terms of the accord to secure the Paris Agreement climate objectives.

Mining in Indigenous lands will increase Amazon deforestation and economic losses, new study shows

Bolsonaro’s bill could lead to 160,000 km2 of deforestation in the Amazon

Crédito: Marcio Isensee e Sa/iStock

18 Sep 20

Mining in Indigenous lands will increase Amazon deforestation and economic losses, new study shows

A new study led by Australian and Brazilian researchers from public universities and the NGO Instituto Socioambiental (Isa) published on scientific magazine One Earth concluded that Bill 191/2020, which aims at allowing mining in indigenous reserves, may lead to the destruction of 160,000 km2 of Amazon forests, or the equivalent to 20 years of deforestation. The research also shows that the bill may cause economic damages of over US$5 billion due to loss of environmental services and agroforestry production. In February 2020, president Bolsonaro sent the bill to the National Congress, where it’s being analysed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Massive fires in Pantanal threaten indigenous peoples, kill animals and rings climate alert

Fires have ravaged, until mid-September, 23% of Pantanal biome

Crédito: Rogerio Florentino/Greenpeace

15 Sep 20

Massive fires in Pantanal threaten indigenous peoples, kill animals and rings climate alert

From January to August, fires in the Pantanal had already burned 18,646 km2, or 12% of the total area of ​​the biome, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). INPE also detected 10,316 fires from the beginning of the year until September 3, the highest rate for the period since 1998, when it started to monitor the area. Until that week, the data indicated that in the state of Mato Grosso, 95% of the destruction occurred in areas of native vegetation, according to the NGO Instituto Centro e Vida (ICV). On September 15, the state was the national champion of fires with almost 2,200 hot spots, accumulating 60% of the flames in the country, according to INPE. Alone, Mato Grosso State burned more in that span than the other eight states in the Legal Amazon. Since the fires weren’t controlled, by mid-September, they had already ravaged 23% of the Pantanal biome.

The Pantanal is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, home to around 1200 species of vertebrate animals, including endangered species and the most dense jaguar population in the world. Until 2020, it was also one of the better preserved biomes in the country. In Mato Grosso, the flames have already consumed over 90% of the area of ​​a sanctuary for the blue macaw. The species probably will return to the threatened with extinction list after the fires. The images of jaguars, anteaters, snakes and birds, dead and injured, have gained social media and shocked Brazil and the world.

A report by El País showed that the spread of fire to areas of indigenous reserves, such as the fire in the Indigenous Land Thereza Cristina, of the Boe Bororo people, forced the state government of Mato Grosso to declare an emergency on September 14. More than 100 bororo were hastily removed due to poor air quality; authorities took elderly and pregnant women to the Indigenous Health Center in Rondonópolis. After escaping the fire, the bororo ended up exposed to the coronavirus pandemic. In Rondonópolis, there were 156 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among indigenous people, in addition to 13 suspects and 31 patients, according to the Special Indigenous Sanitary District of Cuiabá, the State capital.

A similar situation occurred in the Xingu Indigenous Park, 900 kilometers away from Cuiabá, the second indigenous land most affected by fires in Mato Grosso. Sixteen houses were burned at the Diauarum post, in the center of the reservation. About six thousand indigenous people of 16 ethnic groups live in the park. In mid-September, 116 indigenous persons were in isolation in the Xingu due to the new coronavirus; 333 cases had already been confirmed.

Pantanal women who live on agro-extractivism (such as the collection of fruits and nuts) are also disproportionately affected by fires. The groups of women supported by the work of the NGO Ecoa – Ecology and Action, in Campo Grande (MS), lost areas of traditional crops in the region, such as bocaiúva, laranjinha-de-pacu and acuri, compromising their source of subsistence and income, in addition to the fire directly threatening their homes. “Here in Mato Grosso do Sul, for example, they are surrounded by monocultures and pesticides. The fires affected directly the reforestation work with native species that they lead”, reported the activist Nathália Eberhardt Ziolkowski.

According to NASA data cited in a report by the Reuters news agency, changes in ocean temperatures are a likely factor in creating drought conditions in the Pantanal and in the southern part of the Amazon, where the fires in August were the biggest in the last ten years.

In 2020, Pantanal experiences one of the worst droughts in its history, with rainfall 40% below the average of previous years. The main river in the biome, the Paraguay River, has the worst level of the watercourse in the last fifty years, aggravating the progress of the fire. According to measurements by the Geological Survey of Brazil, checked by UOL, the Paraguay River is registering one of the 13 weakest ebbs in the last 120 years. For researchers, human interference in the biome with livestock activities and expansion of the agricultural frontier, in addition to the growth of cities, may be exceeding the limits of what the Pantanal supports.

On September 20, dozens of civil society organizations and hundreds of individuals signed and forwarded an open letter to the Supreme Federal Court (STF) asking for the removal and civil, criminal and administrative responsibility of those responsible, by default or action, for the burning of the Pantanal.

Government does not spend on environmental policies, increases budget for big farmers and weakens land reform

Deter/Inpe system detects fires in recently deforested area in Porto Velho, Rondônia State

Crédito: Christian Braga /Greenpeace

12 Sep 20

Government does not spend on environmental policies, increases budget for big farmers and weakens land reform

The Climate Observatory (OC), a network of civil society organizations, analyzed data from the federal government’s Integrated Planning and Budget System and concluded that in the first eight months of 2020, the Ministry of the Environment executed just over 0.4% of its budget.

The OC survey released on September 11 shows that the budget execution of direct actions by the ministry until August 31 was R$105.000 out of a total of R$26.5 million. “The urban agenda, the minister’s priority, only spent R$18.000”, asserts the entity’s technical note. The government should have used the money to plan for environmental actions. For example, the biodiversity plan had a budget of more than R$1 million but spent only R$ 50.000 in the period. Other agendas, such as the promotion of studies on climate change, did not implement even a dime of its resources.

In addition, Bolsonaro administration cut funds from strategic areas for the prevention and control of forest fires in federal lands. Even with the increase of about 30% in burnings in the Amazon and the record fires in the Pantanal, the expected expenditure on contracting fire-fighting personnel fell from R$23.78 million in 2019 to R$9.99 million in 2020, a reduction of 58% according to official data from the Portal da Transparência [Transparency Portal].

In another measure related to federal spending and land use policies, Bolsonaro administration sent to Congress a budget proposal, in early September, for the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCRA) that practically zeroed the budget for actions aimed at landless populations and improvements in settlements in rural areas in 2021. Approximately 90% of the resources destined to the recognition and indemnification of quilombola territories and credit lines to settled families were cut; conflict monitoring and peacemaking actions in the countryside lost 82% of their funds.

The same proposal increases the amount destined to great landowners who suffered expropriation. Analysts indicate that the measure deepens the dismantling of INCRA, initiated under Michel Temer’s administration, and it could result in the extinction of agrarian reform in the country. During the election campaign, Bolsonaro called the MST (Movement of Landless Rural Workers) “terrorists”.

Cerrado Day: nothing to celebrate

Fires ravaged 2,000 hectares of native forest in Chapada dos Guimarães

Crédito: Michelle7623/iStock

11 Sep 20

Cerrado Day: nothing to celebrate

On September 11, Brazil celebrates the Cerrado National Day. The second largest Brazilian biome, the Cerrado occupies 22% of the Brazilian territory and is of strategic importance for water supply and biodiversity preservation. The biome, according to official estimates, is home to around 10,000 plant species, 800 birds and 160 other mammals, concentrating 5% of the diversity of these species on the planet. The Cerrado is known as the “Birthplace of Waters” because it encompasses three important South American hydrographic basins – Tocantins – Araguaia, São Francisco and Prata.

The Cerrado is also one of the most threatened biomes in the world, under pressure from agriculture and livestock, as well as logging for charcoal production. Between 2018 and 2019, deforestation advanced over 6,483 km2 of the biome, or four times the area of ​​the city of São Paulo. From January to August 2020, the state of Mato Grosso lost 1.7 million hectares to forest fires — 31% in savanna areas. In Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, the fire has already ravaged 2,000 hectares of native forest.

A report by the Jornal Nacional published on September 17 exemplified the dynamic of destruction: the TV report accompanied an inspection operation by the Brazilian Institute of Biodiversity and Renewable Resources (Ibama) in the Cerrado region of Matopiba area, in Tocantins. They showed the use of “chains” and burning to clean the land. Ibama inspectors covered over 7 thousand kilometers in the Nascentes do Parnaíba National Park and in the Jalapão State Park, verifying about twenty thousand hectares of illegal deforestation. Part of the destruction occurred within private rural properties, in areas destined to the Legal Reserve — which were to remain intact under the Forest Code. The MPF is investigating the complaints presented by Ibama. According to experts heard in the report, this deforestation affects the availability of water in the region; some municipalities in Matopiba already face problems in supplying the population.

Smoke in Manaus reflects record forest fires in Amazonas and Para states

On early September, Amazonas State registered a rise in hotspots

Crédito: Bruno Kelly/Amazônia Real/CC by SA

9 Sep 20

Smoke in Manaus reflects record forest fires in Amazonas and Para states

An extensive cloud of smoke from fires all over the Amazon rainforest covered Manaus, Amazonas State capital, in the first week of September. The rates of forest fires in the region have been breaking historical records since July. According to a report by Amazônia Real, between September 1st and 8th the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) registered 2,002 hotspots in Amazonas, 170% more than in the same period in 2019, when the state had 742. The State of Pará had a more significant increase, with 3,468 outbreaks of burning, an increase of 253% when compared to the previous year (983 outbreaks). Inpe records and other institutions detected a concentration of fires in the municipalities of Novo Progresso, São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, in Pará, and Lábrea, Apuí and Boca do Acre, in Amazonas.

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

Tragedy exposes vulnerability of isolated indigenous peoples

Crédito: Mário Vilela/Funai

9 Sep 20

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

The indigenist Rieli Franciscato, 56, died on September 9 when he was hit by an arrow in the chest while monitoring a group of isolated indigenous people in the State of Rondônia. Rieli was a renowned active indigenist in the country, with over 30 years at the service of the National Foundation of the Indian (Funai). He worked to avoid friction between non-indigenous and a indigenous non-contact group known as “Isolados do Cautário[Cautário Isolates]” that appeared near Seringueiras (RO) in June; he was also engaging in preventive actions to avoid exposing the isolates to the coronavirus pandemic.

That day, Rieli went to the scene with two military policemen and an indigenous colleague. The team found and followed footprints that led to Indigenous Land (TI) Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau; already inside the indigenous territory, Rieli was hit in the chest with an arrow and was taken to the hospital, but did not resist the wound. Rieli’s death shocked sertanistas, indigenistas and Funai’s workers. It also exposed the precarious and vulnerable situation of isolated peoples. Ivaneide Bandeira, coordinator of the Association for Ethno-Environmental Defense Kanindé, which she founded together with Rieli in 1992 to protect the indigenous peoples of Rondônia drew attention, in an interview to DW Brasil, to the risk of silent ethnocide among isolated peoples amid the fires. “With the dismantling of the Rio Madeira teams and the entire Funai structure, we don’t even know if they are alive,” she said.

Two weeks later, on September 22, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) of Rondônia recommended that Funai and the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) should create health and safety barriers on the lines of access to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Territory to protect the isolated peoples of the Cautário River region.

Covid-19: Chief Raoni is discharged from hospital; elders are still at risk

Chief Raoni Metuktire is known across the globe for his defense of indigenous people’s rights

Geraldo Magela/Agência Senado/via CC BY 2.0

4 Sep 20

Covid-19: Chief Raoni is discharged from hospital; elders are still at risk

One week after testing positive for Covid-19, chief Raoni Metuktire, 90, leader of the Kayapó people, was discharged from hospital in Mato Grosso. Besides Covid-19, the chief had lung problems.

Raoni is recognized internationally for his struggle to defend indigenous peoples, who saw his recovery as good news since Covid-19 disproportionately affects native Brazilians, according to the BBC. The report shows that the pandemic threatens to destroy, besides lives, entire cultures concentrated in their elders. Indigenous representatives consider the loss of the elders as an “true extermination of ethnicities”. Only in the Xingu region, in Pará State, Covid-19 caused the death of elders and chiefs like Aritana Yawalapiti, Juca Kamayurá, Jamiko Nafukuá, and Mamy Kalapalo. Among the Kokama people in Amazonas, at least 37 indigenous people, mostly the elderly, have died from the coronavirus. In Roraima State, the elderly Macuxi Bernaldina José Pedro, from TI Raposa Serra do Sol, died.

According to Apib — Indigenous Peoples in Brazil Network, which filed a lawsuit against the government in the Supreme Court for failure to provide assistance to indigenous people during the pandemic, indigenous populations infected by Covid-19 have a 9.6% lethality rate, while the average population in overall is 4%, according to the Ministry of Health.

ICMBio agent dies while fighting forest fires in the Cerrado region

Goiás State had a 38,1% increase in fires this year

Credits: Facebook/Reproduction

2 Sep 20

ICMBio agent dies while fighting forest fires in the Cerrado region

Environmental analyst Welington Fernando Peres Silva, a public servant at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), died of burn injuries suffered during a fire-fighting operation carried out in Emas National Park, in the cerrado region of Goiás State. He he was battling fires on August 21 when the wind changed direction and he got caught in the middle of the fire. Between August 1 and 31, the State of Goiás recorded 964 hotspots according to state government data, an increase of 38.1% compared to August 2019.

Clash between government and Ministry of the Environment threatens fight against deforestation

VP Hamilton Mourão said that Salles declarations were “hasty”

Crédito: Foto: Romério Cunha/VPR/via Foto Públicas

28 Aug 20

Clash between government and Ministry of the Environment threatens fight against deforestation

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, announced the interruption of the fight against forest fires in the Amazon and Pantanal regions — but hours later, went back on his decision. The suspension was motivated by a government block on the ministry’s funding. The cut, due to August 31, would sum up to R$ 60 million reais — but the government also went back on the decision.

Vice president Hamilton Mourão, the president of the Amazon Council, said that Salles actions were “hasty” and guaranteed that the operation will continue. According to the newspaper “Valor Econômico”, the responsible for the budget cuts were military personnel close to president Bolsonaro. The newspaper hinted at reports that say that the situation was seen as an “indirect resignation.

Covid-19: Brazilian youth raises R$ 900,000 to support indigenous peoples

Brazilian youth during a protest against the destruction of the environment

Credits: Friday For Future Brasil/via Twitter

24 Aug 20

Covid-19: Brazilian youth raises R$ 900,000 to support indigenous peoples

150 young Brazilians from age 17 to 29, inspired by the organization Fridays for Future, globally promoted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, collected over R$ 900,000 to support Amazon  indigenous peoples during the pandemic.

The campaign SOS Amazon emphasizes the role of indigenous peoples and river-dwellers in protecting the environment, while also underlining the vulnerable conditions that they are submitted to during the pandemic. “They are facing a health care crisis, loss of income, hunger and threats to their territories”. They used the hashtag #DefendTheDefenders to promote the campaign.

In 2020, fires have already ravaged 10% of Pantanal wetland area

Firefighters try to contain the flames in the Pantanal region

Credits: Mayke Toscano/Secom-MT

20 Aug 20

In 2020, fires have already ravaged 10% of Pantanal wetland area

Between January and August 2020, forest fires have ravaged over 17,500 square kilometers of Pantanal, which sums up to 10% of the total area of the region which encompasses the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands. 

According to an article by Deutsche Welle, there was an 211% increase in hotspots when compared to the same period in the previous year. It was also the highest rate ever recorded since the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) started monitoring fires in Pantanal, in 1998.  Monitoring reports point to human action as responsible for starting 90% of the fires. Due to a severe dry season, the fire spreads easily when in contact with dry forests and grasslands.

Covid-19: Secretary for Indigenous Health barrs humanitarian aid to Terena people

Terena Council is requesting MSF’s aid since June 24th

Credits: MSF/Handout/via Facebook

19 Aug 20

Covid-19: Secretary for Indigenous Health barrs humanitarian aid to Terena people

According to a public denounce  by the Indigenous People’s Network (APIB),  Robson Santos da Silva, national director for the Special Secretary for Indigenous Health (SESAI), has barred the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) from fighting the Covid-19 spread at the Indigenous Land Taunay Ipegue, of the Terena people, in Aquidauana municipality, Mato Grosso do Sul State. The motivation behind the ban on MSF was not disclosed.

APIB states that there is a tragic rise in deaths among the Terena community  because of the disease – 580% in under a month – and that the villages are under “sanitary collapse”. MSF’s support has been a demand by the Terena Council since July 24th. By the end of that month, Covid-19 had killed six individuals. By August 19th, there were 41 dead and 1239 contaminated among the Terena people.

Sanitary authorities review ban on Paraquat, one of the most lethal agrochemicals in the world

Brazil’s Sanitary Agency, Anvisa, might review ban on herbicide

Credits: Ascom/Anvisa

18 Aug 20

Sanitary authorities review ban on Paraquat, one of the most lethal agrochemicals in the world

An ordinance by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), from September, 2017, which banned the use of the herbicide Paraquat, is under review by the agency. The prohibition of Syngenta’s agrochemical was because of evidence that confirms that its use generates genetic mutation and Parkinson’s disease in the workers who have direct contact with it. The prohibition was scheduled to become effective on September, 22, 2020.

However, the sanitary agency had a board meeting on August 18th and the review of the ban was on the agendas. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Rômison Mota, rapporteur of the process, voted against the review of the ban deadline, since there was no justifiable reason. Anvisa might discuss the topic again at the next meeting.

In a comprehensive article about the subject, the NGO Repórter Brasil claimed the agency operated with a lack of transparency, since the documents about the meeting weren’t disclosed.

Landowners associations are trying to prove that the paraquat is safe, but there isn’t evidence to support that claim. The agrochemical has already been forbidden in Europe and China. According to Repórter Brasil’s article, the major argument supporting the safety of the agrochemical are two incomplete researches. The Ethics Committee of the Campinas State University (Unicamp) suspended one of them after the NGO pointed out the study as a key-piece of the agribusiness companies campaign to allow the use of Paraquat.

Under pressure by investors, Ministry of the Environment announces new structure

Servants see “systematic dismantling” of the the Ministry under Salles

Credits: José Cruz/Agência Brasil

12 Aug 20

Under pressure by investors, Ministry of the Environment announces new structure

The Ministry of the Environment (MMA) has announced its new structure, effectively starting September 21st. Minister Ricardo Salles announced that the reorganization of the ministry “will answer import demands” that are “now priorities”. The changes, however, were credited to the pressure by international investors and environmental organizations.

Salles announced the recreation of a secretary to handle climate change. The government abolished the previous secretary in 2019. He also announced the Secretary for Amazon and Environmental Services that will work to attract resources via the carbon credit market. The new Secretary of Preserved Areas will try to gather sponsors, corporate and individual, to parks and federal Conservation Units (UC)

In a joint statement, the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema Nacional) and the Association of the Ministry of the Environment Workers (ASSEMMA) questioned the effectiveness of the measures and denounced the systematic destruction of the ministry under Salles. “[president Bolsonaro] announced the extinction of MMA in October 2018. They didn’t formally dismantle the ministry, but it’s happening, step by step, with all the measures Salles is implementing. The public servants are watching, bamboozled, to the deconstruction”, stated the note.

One year later, “Day of the Fire” leaves “legacy of impunity”, says Greenpeace

Cattle herd in Novo Progresso, Pará State, one of the “Day of the Fire” hotspots

Photo: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC

10 Aug 20

One year later, “Day of the Fire” leaves “legacy of impunity”, says Greenpeace

One year ago, between August 10th and 11, 2019, rural landowners coordinated to start forest fire in Amazon areas in southern Pará State, in the episode that became known as “Day of the Fire”, which caused protests in its aftermath throughout Brazil. In that period, the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) detected 1.457 fires hotspots in the state, a 1923% increase when compared to the same period in the previous year (2018). 

As the first anniversary of the event approaches, NGO Greenpeace says that the “Day of the Fire” left a legacy of impunity. According to an investigation led by the NGO, out of the 207 rural properties where fires registered in the period in the region, only five were fined by environmental authorities. In 2020, some are functioning normally, producing crops and cattle. 

The local newspaper Folha do Progresso, who first reported on the organization of the Day of the Fire, noted that the rural landowners felt encouraged to engage in the burning by the words of Bolsonaro and declared that the action had the aim of showing the president their willingness to work. Adélcio Piran, the journalist who first reported the incident, told Deutsche Welle that he’s still facing attacks and threats one year after the story came out.

One year after the criminal event, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Pará State is still on the rise. According to data from the Amazon Men and Environment Institute (Imazon), the loss of native forest grew 29% between August, 2019, and July, 2020, when compared to the previous year. The state also has 6 municipalities among the 10 in the country with the highest deforestation rates, including Novo Progresso, where the Day of the Fire originally started.

Covid-19: Chief Aritana, indigenous leader of Amazon's Alto Xingu, dies at age 71

The Indigenous People Network lamented Aritana’s passing

Credit: Midia Ninja

5 Aug 20

Covid-19: Chief Aritana, indigenous leader of Amazon’s Alto Xingu, dies at age 71

Chief Aritana, of the Yawalapiti ethnicity, died from Covid-19, at age 71. He was an important and historic indigenous leader of Alto Xingu, Mato Grosso State in the Amazon. Aritana was hospitalized on June 19th, in Mato Grosso. By the end of the month, health officials transferred him to a hospital in Goiás State, with a severe health condition. Aritana’s  hospital transfer reflects the obstacles to access proper care for Covid-19 faced and denounced by indigenous groups in Mato Grosso State. 

Alongside Chief Raoni, Aritana gained nation-wide recognition because of his engagement in the struggle for land preservation and indigenous rights. Environmentalists and indigenous organizations manifested their mourning for the loss and paid homage after his passing.

Covid-19: Supreme Court orders government to protect indigenous peoples

Indigenous organizations saw the decision as “positive”

Credits: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

5 Aug 20

Covid-19: Supreme Court orders government to protect indigenous peoples

The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) ratified in its entirety the precautionary decision made by justice Luís Roberto Barroso in June, which obliges Bolsonaro’s government to adopt emergency measures to fight Covid-19 spread among indigenous people. 

Indigenous associations, NGOs and environmentalists are denouncing the government’s neglect since the beginning of the pandemic. Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), who took part in the STF trial hearings, said the decision was a victory. However, on their website, they faulted the justices decision for “leaving out the issue of the invaders present in 7 indigenous territories.”

According to APIB, the government now shall create isolating barriers for isolated ethnicities, assembling task forces, with government and indigenous representatives, to accompany the progress of the actions against the pandemic and guarantee access and treatment in Brazil’s public health care system for indigenous who live and don’t live in reservations, such as the populations in urban areas.

“Gag Law”: Controller General defends silencing of federal public servants

Associations saw CGU’s stance as censorship

Credits: Federal Government/Handout

29 Jul 20

“Gag Law”: Controller General defends silencing of federal public servants

A memorandum published in June by the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), the federal organ responsible for the “defense of public property, transparency and fighting against corruption”, lists several stances that could lead to “disciplinary hearings” to federal public servants: publicizing opinions about conflicts or internal issues, divulging critical statements about the organ that employs the worker in social media and news-outlets, and conducts by the servants that have a negative impact on the image and credibility of their institution.

The website Congresso Em Foco published an article about CGU’s memorandum and remembered that in May, servants from the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) denounced that the organ’s Ethics Committee issued a technical note that prohibited public statements with critics against the network in social media by the environmental agents.

A few days later, the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema – Nacional) denounced the memorandum as unconstitutional. “No one can forbid a public servant who is also a citizen, to manifest his opinions, under the allegation that those could harm the organ and its agents reputation,” says the public announcement by Ascema, which also opposed “any kind of censorship, intimidation or persecution against public servants”.

Another occasion of silencing dissent happened in July at the Ministry of the Environment, when public servant Marcelo Grossi was dismissed of his position as secretary of the Ethics Committee of the Ministry after he denounced minister Ricardo Salles to the Union Finance Court (TCU), Presidential Ethics Committee (CEP) and the Office of the Controller General (CGU). Grossi requested the federal control organs to intervene since Salles was withholding the nominations of members of the Ministry’s ethics commission for over one year.

In the first half of 2020, fires ravaged the Pantanal at unprecedented levels

Forest fires in Pantanal rose by 530% when compared to 2019

Credits: Mayke Toscano/Secom-MT/via Fotos Públicas

23 Jul 20

In the first half of 2020, fires ravaged the Pantanal at unprecedented levels

In 2020, between the months of January and June, the Pantanal biome recorded an increase of 530% in forest fires when compared to the same period in 2019. The data comes from an interactive tool from the NGO Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV) who monitors deforestation hotspots in Mato Grosso State over the yearly season when the State government prohibits fires in rural properties. The fires prohibition, usually issued around  July 15th, this year  came earlier, starting on July 1st and running until September 30th 2020.

The data, open for public consultation on the ICV website, also points out that even though the prohibition season started earlier, there was a 12% rise in fires hotspots in July when compared to the same month in the previous year.

A federal order issued by president Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles on July 16th, prohibited the use of fires in rural properties in the Pantanal and Amazonia regions. The measure was considered too late in its purposes to contain deforestation and contains a problematic article that allows burning “in areas outside of the Pantanal and Legal Amazon areas when essential to farming activities.”

Bolsonaro denies deforestation and blames indigenous and traditional communities for forest fires

The president said that “the indigenous, the native, the caboclo, the river-dweller constantly do that kind of thing”, referring to forest fires

Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil/via CC

16 Jul 20

Bolsonaro denies deforestation and blames indigenous and traditional communities for forest fires

During his weekly social media broadcast, president Bolsonaro once again said that the claims about his government not protecting the environment are “unfair” and that they are part of a “commercial struggle” that aims at jeopardizing Brazil agribusiness, calling Europe an “environmental cult”. He also blamed Brazilian indigenous people and traditional communities for provoking forest fires: “indigenous people, river dwellers, native Brazilians, caboclos, they constantly do that kind of thing.” Bolsonaro used fake information to defend himself, stating that under his administration forest fires and hotspots are at an all-time low.

Government plans on regularizing rural properties in the Amazon based on satellite images

Regularização fundiária será baseada em sistemas de “sensoriamento remoto”, com com apoio de imagem de satélites

Crédito: Aqua /Nasa/via Fotos Públicas

15 Jul 20

Government plans on regularizing rural properties in the Amazon based on satellite images

Tereza Cristina, Brazilian minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, stated that her ministry will start a land regularization process in the Amazon via “remote monitoring and detection” systems. According to an article by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, this will happen based on satellite imagery. “We have people working in many regions of the nine Amazonian States, but we will start with three”, she said.

According to the newspaper Estado de São Paulo, the government will evaluate over 93,000 irregular properties, with an average size of 280 hectares.

The regularization is the vice president’s Mourão, head of the Amazon Council, bet to curb deforestation. His argument is that it’s hard to hold accountability when the landowner is unknown.

Deeds of embargo in environmental infractions drop by 60% in 2020

Ibama team in an inspection operation in Roraima State

Credits: Fernando Augusto/Ibama/via CC

12 Jul 20

Deeds of embargo in environmental infractions drop by 60% in 2020

The deeds of embargo issued by Ibama, Brazilian Environmental control agency to contain deforestation experienced a 60% drop during the first semester of 2020, when compared to 2019.

Deeds of embargo are a control tool with the aim of “formalizing embargoes on construction works or projects to paralyse the environmental infractions, prevent new violations, safeguard environmental recovery and guarantee due legal process”. 

According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, it’s the second time Brazil experiences such a drop. In 2019, there was a 40% reduction on emissions of deeds of embargo when compared to the first half of 2018. The public data is available online, but experts alert that it might not be complete. Elizabeth Eriko Uema, executive-secretary of the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema) said that there is “a gag law” in place to stop  public servants from speaking up about the problems on the environmental control and governance structures under Bolsonaro’s administration.

“The deeds of embargoes are a more effective measure than fines in terms of environmental control purposes”, said Suely Araújo, former president  of Ibama and now a spokesperson for the NGO Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima).

Brazil’s VP says that the country is “late” to fight Amazon’ deforestation

Vice President Mourão criticizes MMA’s survey systems

Credits: Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil

10 Jul 20

Brazil’s VP says that the country is “late” to fight Amazon’ deforestation

After a meeting with CEOs from several large Brazilian corporations, Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão declared to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that the government actions to fight deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon were “late”.

He recalled the Amazon Council, presided by him, which the government launched in February. He stated the actions “should have started in December or January, at the latest”. NGOs and environmentalists have been criticizing the council for its lack of a clear agenda or budget.

VP Mourão also blamed the coronavirus pandemic for lack of investments in land use monitoring systems. However,  the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) keeps raising deforestation alerts that the government chooses to ignore”, according to the NGO Greenpeace. Ibama, the Brazilian Environmental Agency,  uses Inpe’s alerts to fight forest fires and other environmental crimes. During April 2020, the alerts by the System of Deforestation Detection in Real Time (Deter) rose by 64% when compared to the same month in 2019.

The government’s budget for the Ministry of the Environment suffered a 10% cut from 2019 to 2020, affecting the prevention and control of forest fires. 

An analysis published in December 2019 had already shown that the Ministry of the Environment did not spend a cent of the authorized R$ 8 million budget from the National Fund on Climate Change, destined to produce studies, projects and enterprises to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

Ricardo Salles, the minister of the environment, also attended the meeting to speak about carbon credits defined by the Paris Agreement. 

Amazon’s deforestation rate in June is the highest in 5 years

Inpe: June’s 2020 deforestation equals the area of Belem, capital of Pará

Credits: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC

10 Jul 20

Amazon’s deforestation rate in June is the highest in 5 years

Data from the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) show that June 2020 had the highest deforestation rates of the last five years. According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the deforestation was equivalent to the area of the city of Belém, capital of Pará State, and rose by 10,65% when compared to the same month in 2019. Márcio Astrini, executive-secretary of the network Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima), said that the government tries to convey a deceptive image that it preserves the Amazon but “the numbers prove otherwise: Bolsonaro’s government is actively collaboration to the destruction of the largest tropical rainforest in the planet”. He added that “under Bolsonaro, we live the worst moment ever regarding Brazil’s environmental agenda.”

Army paralyzes operation to fight deforestation in the Amazon

Ibama agents fighting deforestation in Pará State

Credits: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC

7 Jul 20

Army paralyzes operation to fight deforestation in the Amazon

The Brazilian Army has stopped Operation Verde Brasil 2, created last May to fight deforestation in the Amazon.  The Army has withdrawn support to the mission, which was stationed at Uruará, Pará State, to carry on actions to dismantle illegal  timber sawmills in the municipality. The Army was working alongside Ibama environmental agents, the Federal Police and the National Security Force.

Ibama declared that the suspension of the Army’s support to the actions “cost public money, as the government allocated many servants in this remote area but they don’t have the proper means to do their jobs; meanwhile illegal loggers run away and escape the raids.” An article by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo affirmed that operation Verde Brasil 2, which is ultimately led by vice president General Hamilton Mourão, spent only 0,7% of its budget.

Federal Prosecution Office files legal action to exonerate the Minister of the Environment

Ricardo Salles is targeted by prosecutors for dismantling his ministry’s structure

Credits: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

6 Jul 20

Federal Prosecution Office files legal action to exonerate the Minister of the Environment

The Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) has filed a legal request asking for the removal of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles,  due to administrative misconduct. The claim, signed by 12 prosecutors, cites a series of measures led by Salles aiming at disorganizing and destabilizing environmental policies and nullifying legal precepts, such as not using the Ministry’s budget in 2019, attacking the Amazon Fund and firing public servants from Ibama, Brazilian Environmental control agency).

“We can identify, looking at the measures adopted by the minister, an alignment to a set of acts that answer to a logic that is completely backwards to the purposes of the state in guaranteeing environmental rights. This is explicit when we look at the exonerations of Ibama’s public servants right after a successful environmental inspection operation in a critical area of deforestation in the Legal Amazon”, says the MPF.

The case mentioned by the prosecution office refers to the dismissal of three Ibama coordinators after command and control operations to fight environmental crimes inside indigenous territories in Ituna Itatá, Apyterewa, Trincheira-Bacajá e Cachoeira Seca, municipality of Altamira, in Amazon Pará state – the region is located in the area of influence of the Belo Monte hydropower plant. Over 100 machinery and equipment used by gangs of land grabbers, deforesters and gold diggers were apprehended and destroyed by the Ibama agents – a higher number than the entire toll of destroyed machinery for the year of 2019. 

The lawsuit also quotes the ministerial meeting on April 22nd, when Salles suggested the government should take advantage of the pandemic to further deregulate public policies. According to the MPF, this makes his purposes “transparent and straying away from his duty as a minister of the Environment.”

Covid-19: Meat processing plants at the root of outbreak in the Cerrado

First coronavirus cases in Dourados Indigenous Land came from a JBS meat processing factory

Credits: Handout

3 Jul 20

Covid-19: Meat processing plants at the root of outbreak in the Cerrado

The Public Prosecutor on Labour issues (MPT) of Mato Grosso do Sul State informed that mass testings done in meat processing plants belonging to JBS and BRF corporations located in the municipality of Dourados point to over 1,000 infected people among its employees.

 

The municipality is also home to the Dourados Indigenous Reservation (RID), the most populated indigenous reservation in the country, inhabited by 15,800 indigenous individuals. The first confirmed case in the reservation was of an indigenous woman who works at JBS. In May, independent media observatories, such as Agência Pública and De Olho Nos Ruralistas, had already informed that the JBS factory was a dangerous vector of Covid-19 transmission among the indigenous.

Agência Pública contacted JBS for a statement, who said that it “adopts a rigorous control and prevention protocol inside their units”. BRF, according to a UOL article, stated that it started voluntary adopting testing protocols to prevent the spread “and keep the operations running with safety.”

Covid-19: In Pará State, indigenous communities are facing neglect during pandemic outbreak

Organizations criticize Sesai’s tardiness in testing symptomatic indigenous

Crédito: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

25 Jun 20

Covid-19: In Pará State, indigenous communities are facing neglect during pandemic outbreak

Indigenous populations in the southwest of Pará State are living through a critical situation as the coronavirus pandemic advances in the region. Between May 25th and June 18th, 22 local individuals died from Covid-19. The virus also infected 638 indigenous among the 12 different ethnicities that inhabit the area.

Facing government neglect and lack of public structure to aid the indigenous territories, a team of volunteers — researchers, public servants, missionaries, and concerned citizens from different federal universities, social movements and indigenous groups — formed the Mutual Indigenous Support Network of Southeast Pará.  They demand medical supplies and complain about the under-reporting of Covid-19 cases, which is detrimental to the formation of an organized plan to fight the pandemic. The group says that the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), linked to the Ministry of Health, is taking too long to test and detect the spread of the virus in the region, one of the main deforestation frontiers in the Amazon state of Pará.

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

Document mentions Salles speech about deregulating environmental norms

Crédito: Eduardo Frederiksen/iStock

23 Jun 20

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

An international business and investment group, controlling R$ 20 trillion of funds, wrote an open letter to Brazilian embassies in the United States, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, France and Netherlands. The document expresses concern over deforestation rates in Brazil and the behaviour of the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. The letter quotes minister Salles leaked remarks at a cabinet meeting in April, when he said that the government should take advantage of the public attention to the pandemic to deregulate environmental laws.

According to the website G1, the investors group wants to contribute with the conciliation between the economic development and environment conservation. They ask the Brazilian government to “show firm commitment with eliminating deforestation and protecting indigenous people’s rights”.

Ministry of the Environment illegally omits data about environmental crimes

Deforested area in the Amazon, close to Menkragnoti Indigenous Land

Crédito: Marcio Isensee e Sa/iStock

18 Jun 20

Ministry of the Environment illegally omits data about environmental crimes

According to an article by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the federal government is illegally omitting data about areas that suffered embargoes because of environmental crimes. The information, which should be public, became unavailable after  minister Salles  determined changes in the Integrated Registration, Controlling and Tax Collection System (Sicafi). The Ministry of the Environment also erased historical data on fines and infractions applied by Ibama, the environmental control agency.

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

Paiakan, in January 2020, during a meeting of the Mebengokre peoples

Crédito: Kamikia Kisedje/ISA

17 Jun 20

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

An indigenous leadership of the Kayapó people, Bepkororoti Payakan, also known as Paulo Paiakan, died after being infected by the Covid-19 in the south region of Pará State, in the Amazon. He was a historical figure among the indigenous movements of Brazil, having played a decisive role during the redemocratization process and as an active voice in the fight for rights and land demarcation in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988.

“Paiakan managed, like few others, to articulate social and environmental struggles. That is the legacy of the Kayapó leader that we lost today”, said, in a statement, the Socioambiental Institute (ISA).

Ministry of the Environment issues non-statutory decree to reduce Atlantic Rainforest protection

This is Salles second attempt, in under six months, to interfere in the biome’s protection

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil/via Fotos

12 Jun 20

Ministry of the Environment issues non-statutory decree to reduce Atlantic Rainforest protection

The ministry of the Environment issued a decree, not yet signed by president Bolsonaro, that compromises the protection of the Atlantic Rainforest by favouring licensing of real estate projects. It’s an infralegal, or non-statutory act, meaning that, according to Brazil’s legislation, it can be approved directly by the president without voting at the House of Representatives. Minister Ricardo Salles intents to soften environmental laws by using this kind of legal maneuver. His intentions of doing so became public and went viral in a leaked video of a cabinet  meeting in April 2020, when he suggested using the  Covid-19 pandemic as a distraction to public opinion while they worked to deregulate environmental norms. “With all this fuss we won’t be able to approve anything at the House of Representatives”, he said.

This is not the first time that the minister tries to weaken the legislation that protects the most endangered Brazilian biome. In the beginning of the month, after intense pressure from civil society and the justice system, Salles retrieved his own order that aimed to provide amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest destroyers. The Atlantic Rainforest biome once covered 15% of Brazil’s territory in 17 States. Now, according to the NGO SOS Mata Atlântica, it’s down to 12,4% of its original extension.

Environment Parliamentary Caucus calls for Minister Salles to be impeached

The Federal Senate in Brasília (DF)

Crédito: Ana Volpe/ Senado/CC BY-NC 2.0

5 Jun 20

Environment Parliamentary Caucus calls for Minister Salles to be impeached

The Environment Parliamentary Front filed an impeachment request to the General Attorney’s Office against the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. The document, 42 pages long and signed by 70 representatives, lists impeachable offenses and administrative irregularities committed by Salles and claims that the minister and president Bolsonaro “advocate for environmental deregulation, the loosening of environmental legislation to benefit certain economic activities that, because of their high impact, must be, by the strength of the law and of our federal constitution, regulated, controlled and restricted, such as gold mining, logging, and agribusiness and stock farming activities in general.”

Ibama public servants  protest against federal government

Environmental agents protest in front of the Ministry

Crédito: Asibama-DF/via Congresso em Foco

5 Jun 20

Ibama public servants protest against federal government

On June 5th,  World Environment Day, public servants and workers from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) gathered outside the Ministry of the Environment, in Brasília, the country’s capital, to protest against minister Ricardo Salles and president Jair Bolsonaro and in defense of the environment. The protesters held signs and banners asking for the resignation of Minister Salles and referred to the ministry’s leaked discourse in a cabinet meeting in April calling  for the deregulation of environmental legislation using the pandemic as a distraction. The workers also protested against president Bolsonaro and defended the role of public service. In an article by the website Congresso em Foco, Alexandre Gontijo, president of the Association of Servants and Environment Specialists (ASIBAMA-DF) said that the government doesn’t understand the importance of environmental conservation for the development of the country and denies science.

Minister of Environment nullifies his own order to give amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest Destroyers

Decision came after strong pressure from MPF and environmentalists

Credits: Edilson Rodrigues/Agência Senado/CC BY 2.0

4 Jun 20

Minister of Environment nullifies his own order to give amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest Destroyers

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, has nullified his own order 4.410/2020, issued on April 6th, that recognized as legal properties the deforested areas located inside Permanent Conservation Areas (APPs) in the Atlantic Rainforest. The minister retrieved his proposal after strong pressure from Justice and civil society. On May 5th, the Federal Public Prosecution Office filed a lawsuit asking for the nullifying of Salles’s order due to its illegal nature and the threat posed to the biome, which is considered by environmentalists as the most vulnerable in the country.

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

Gold mining camps are a major Covid-19 vector for indigenous peoples

Crédito: Leonardo Prado/PG/Fotos Públicas

2 Jun 20

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

A study called “The pandemic impact at the Yanomami Indigenous Land: #OutWithGoldminingAndCovid”, by the Socioambiental Institute (ISA) in a partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), points that almost 40% of the yanomami indigenous people who live close to illegal gold mining areas at the Indigenous Land Yanomami (TIY) may become infected with the new coronavirus. The research considers invading  gold miners as the major vectors of transmission inside the demarcated territory. The report concluded that the Yanomami Indigenous Land is the most vulnerable territory in the Amazon regarding Covid-19,  once it faces high social vulnerability, precarious local health infrastructure and a history of respiratory ailments among its population.

Vice-president Mourão takes over as head of Amazon Fund, removing Minister Salles

VP wants to reactivate international donations to Amazon Fund

Crédito: Romério Cunha/VPR/CC BY 2.0

28 May 20

Vice-president Mourão takes over as head of Amazon Fund, removing Minister Salles

The Brazilian vice-president, General Hamilton Mourão, removed the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, from the presidency of the Amazon Fund (Fundo Amazônia), taking over the position for himself . Managed by the National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES), the fund has the aim of attracting donations that will prevent, monitor and fight deforestation, promoting conservation, and the sustainable use of Legal Amazon (Amazônia Legal).

Salles has a history of attacking the fund: he questioned its efficiency publicly and refuted reports about the increase of deforestation in the Amazon during its mandate. On August 19th, 2019, Germany and Norway announced they were withdrawing their donations because of concerns with the Fund’s governance. 

Trying to reactivate the flow of donations, Mourão met with ambassadors from both countries to introduce the new coordinating committee of the Amazon Fund. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the heads of the diplomatic missions pointed out that the main obstacles to returning with the donations is the negative image that Bolsonaro’s government has regarding the environmental agenda.

Endangered Atlantic Rainforest suffers 30% rise in deforestation

Caparaó National Park forest, located in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo

Crédito: Heris Luiz Cordeiro Rocha/via CC BY-SA

27 May 20

Endangered Atlantic Rainforest suffers 30% rise in deforestation

The deforestation of the Atlantic Rainforest rose by 30%, when comparing 2018 to 2019, during the first year of Bolsonaro’s government. The NGO SOS Mata Atlântica revealed the data in a report by, who also points that since 2016 the deforestation rates were in decline. The biome is the most devastated and endangered in Brazil, with 12% of its original coverage and it has one of the richest biodiversities in the world. In April, the Brazilian minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, issued an order that recognized as legal properties deforested areas of the Atlantic Rainforest inside Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which allows rural farming in these territories and violates the Federal Forest Code.

NGOs demand ousting of environment minister; agribusiness corporations want him to stay

Salles suggestions to deregulate environmental norms faced public protest

Credits: Handout

26 May 20

NGOs demand ousting of environment minister; agribusiness corporations want him to stay

NGOs and civil society organizations published a full-page ad at the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo and repudiated the suggestions from the environment minister, Ricardo Salles, to deregulate environmental laws and norms while the pandemic distracted the public and the press. The text, signed by Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), SOS Mata Atlântica, Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), ClimaInfo, and the Climate Observatory asked for the firing of the minister.

Two days later , 70 agribusiness and corporate organizations, among them the National Agriculture and Stock Farming Association (CNA) and Soy Producers Associations (Aprosoja Brasil), published a response in the same space. They wrote that the “bureaucracy is destructive” and fully supported Minister Salles.

Minister wants to "run the cattle herd" over environmental regulations while public is distracted with Covid-19

Salles defended himself saying that intention is to “simplify norms and regulations”

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

22 May 20

Minister wants to “run the cattle herd” over environmental regulations while public is distracted with Covid-19

Ricardo Salles, the Brazilian Environment Minister, called for the deregulation of environmental laws and norms while the population is “distracted” by the Covid-19.

“We must make an effort while everything is calm and the press focuses on the pandemic and “herd the cattle forward” by changing all the rules and simplifying the standards”, he said in a video of a ministerial meeting released upon legal order by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court made the video public to substantiate accusations made by former Justice Minister, Sérgio Moro, who accused president Bolsonaro of interfering in the Federal Police to benefit his allies and family from corruption investigations.

Minister Salles also said that the changes to environmental legislation don’t have to be made via congress, to avoid debate and hasten its implementation.

After the public outrage caused by his declarations, Salles tweeted that he wants “to simplify and cut the bureaucracy” to “untie the knots of irrational laws that impede investments, job creation and sustainable development”.

During the same meeting, president Bolsonaro criticized the Brazilian Institute of Historical, Cultural and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) for halting “infrastructure works over ‘petrified Indian poop’”.

Covid-19: JBS meat processing plant at origin of contamination among local indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul

An employee at a JBS factory in Dourados (MS) was the first indigenous to test positive to Covid-19

Crédito: De Olho nos Ruralistas/Handout

19 May 20

Covid-19: JBS meat processing plant at origin of contamination among local indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul

The first ten indigenous individuals who tested positive with Covid-19 at the Indigenous Reservation of Dourados, at Mato Grosso do Sul State, were infected at their workplace, in a JBS meat processing  plant at the municipality, according to a report by the website specialized in agribusiness De Olho nos Ruralistas. JBS is a Brazilian Meat and Food company, one of the largest in the world, sourcing from cattle ranching farms in the Amazon and Cerrado regions.

Chief Gaudêncio Benites, of the Guarani Kaiowá ethnicity and leader of the Bororó Village, states that, by May 19th, there were 30 individuals with symptoms. The spread could cause a tragedy to over 19,000 Guarani Kaiowás and Terenas that live in the territory.

A female JBS worker, who is a resident  in the Bororó village, was the first case confirmed among indigenous in the State, according to the Health Secretary of Mato Grosso do Sul  on April 13th.

The State Government of Mato Grosso do Sul said, in a statement , that it is trying to gather data on all people who had contact with the contaminated worker. According to chief Benites, the company tested only its workers, leaving out their families and community members. He also denounces that JBS is not supporting the sick and their families.

Covid-19: Indigenous leader dies in Manaus from coronavirus

Messias Kokama suffered with the critical situation in Manaus public health system

Crédito: De Olho Nos Ruralistas/Handout

14 May 20

Covid-19: Indigenous leader dies in Manaus from coronavirus

Indigenous Chief Messias Kokama, leader and founder of the Parque das Tribos, in Manaus, Amazonas State, died because of Covid-19 complications. Kokama, 53, resisted going to the hospital — he was afraid of being infected with the virus. Amazonas State is under a critical health situation. During April, it had the highest coronavirus transmission  rate in the country.

Covid-19:  APIB  Committee will track and register pandemic among indigenous people

Initiative will monitor Covid-19 affects among indigenous

Crédito: Handout/APIB

13 May 20

Covid-19: APIB Committee will track and register pandemic among indigenous people

The Indigenous People Articulation of Brazil (APIB) launches the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory aiming at monitoring the pandemic among the indigenous populations. One of the main drivers behind the creation of the committee is the negligence of the Brazilian State regarding the impact of Covid-19 in the traditional communities. Indigenous leaders say that the number of deaths is much higher than what is being officially reported by the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), a Ministry of Health agency. Until May 12th, the Committee registered a total of 78 deaths among indigenous people, while Sesai registered 19. The difference between the numbers on infected cases is also huge: 371 versus 258.

House of Representatives tries to vote provisional measure that legalizes land grabbing

Deforestation and burning for pasture are marks of land grabbing

Crédito: Ibama/via Fotos Públicas

11 May 20

House of Representatives tries to vote provisional measure that legalizes land grabbing

During the pandemic, the Brazilian House of Representatives tried to vote the Provisional Measure (MP) 910/2019, issued by president Bolsonaro and dubbed “Land grabbers PM” by its critics. To become law, the House has to vote the MP until May 19th, when it expires. The MP will make legal and register rural properties of up to 1400 hectares invaded by land grabbers in the Amazon. It also allows ownership of properties invaded until 2018. Law-makers and civil society consider the measure unconstitutional.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said that the measure doesn’t work as a tool for land-title regularization, as their proponents defend. Instead, WWF says it promotes “amnesty to illegalities”. Another NGO, the Socioambiental Institute (ISA), alleges that the MP “facilitates public land-grabbing” and increases pressure on indigenous lands.

Amazon deforestation alerts rise by 63,75%  in comparison to 2019

Illegal logging at the Indigenous Land Pirititi

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

8 May 20

Amazon deforestation alerts rise by 63,75% in comparison to 2019

Data from the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) shows that the Amazon deforestation alerts transmitted by the System of Detection of Deforestation in Real Time (Deter) rose by 64,75% in April, compared to the same month in 2019. The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) uses the Deter alerts to monitor and substantiate their inspections and control operations. Greenpeace said that the government “ignores” the alerts and “weakens the environmental control with the exoneration of Ibama’s personnel”. When president Bolsonaro took office, in February 2019, the Ministry of the Environment exonerated 21 from 27 regional Ibama inspectors. By the end of 2019, the number of environmental fines had dropped by 34% when compared to the previous year, the lowest record in the past 24 years.

The increase in deforestation alerts happened even though on April 7th, president Bolsonaro had issued a Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) decree that authorized sending army troops to fight forest fires in the Legal Amazon. GLO missions only occur, according to Brazil’s legislation, when “traditional public security forces resources have been exhausted” and can only be executed via presidential sanction.

Minister of the Environment is expelled from political party and pleads allegiance to Bolsonaro

May 7th, 2020

Crédito: Twitter/Reprodução

7 May 20

Minister of the Environment is expelled from political party and pleads allegiance to Bolsonaro

Ricardo Salles, the minister of the Environment, was expelled from the political party Novo. The party’s ethics commission didn’t publicize the reason. João Amoedo, Novo’s president”, wished Salles success in his future ventures and that he hopes that he “will start to make choices based on ideas, principles and values.”. In August 2019, three members of Novo requested Salles expulsion due to the minister’s performance regarding Amazon forest fires. In his Twitter page, Salles clarified that the expulsion happened because he accepted to be the minister of environment without consulting the party or asking for permission. He once again swore his allegiance to the president. “Between Amoedo and Bolsonaro, I’ll stay with Bolsonaro”, he wrote.

Public prosecution asks for the nullification of order that gives amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest destroyers

Salles order violates Atlantic Rainforest Law

Crédito: Welington Pedro de Oliveira/Fotos Públicas

6 May 20

Public prosecution asks for the nullification of order that gives amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest destroyers

The Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) filed a lawsuit at a Federal District court to nullify the order 4.410/2020, which implements a recommendation by the Federal Attorney’s Office (AGU) that recognizes as consolidated areas the Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs) at the Atlantic Rainforest that were deforested until 2008. This allows landowners to resume production in their properties. The order uses the Forest Code, a general law, to hurt the Atlantic Rainforest Law, a special law, that forbids the occupation of deforested areas inside APPs.The Brazilian Association of Environmental Public Prosecutors (Abrampa) and the NGO SOS Atlantic Rainforest were also signatories of the lawsuit.

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

Federal government medical teams in attendance at Yanomami and Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Crédito: Defense Ministry/Federal Government

30 Apr 20

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

The medical staff of the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), that provides health services to the indigenous populations, is not being properly tested for the new coronavirus.

The Sesai Special Sanitary Indigenous Districts received only a few rapid tests that don’t carry the necessary precision to detect the virus.

Professionals in the front-lines reported to Deutsche Welle that they feared being vessels of Covid-19 contamination at the indigenous territories. The Federal Attorney General Office (MPF) recommended that Sesai should provide PCR testing to all health workers before they enter indigenous regions. In response, Sesai alleged they do not have the capacity to provide testing kits.

April is marked by layoffs, political persecution and retaliation at the Ministry of the Environment

Agencies and public workers of MMA were affected

Crédito: Lula Marques/Fotos Públicas

30 Apr 20

April is marked by layoffs, political persecution and retaliation at the Ministry of the Environment

Throughout April, governance and environmental inspection structures suffered from the deepening of the dismantling promoted by the Bolsonaro government, which also intensified the militarization in the fight against deforestation.

On April 10, Ricardo Salles, the minister of the Environment dismissed the analyst at the Ministry of the Environment, André Sócrates de Almeida Teixeira. According to internal sources at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources (Ibama), the dismissal was a retaliation since Teixeira expressed his opposition against the exclusion of rules that prevent the export of illegal timber, in late February.

Four days later, Ibama’s director of Environmental Protection, Olivaldi Azevedo, was exonerated after the TV show Fantástico broadcasted a report which accompanied environmental inspection operations against illegal gold mining and for Covid-19 prevention in Indigenous Lands in Pará. Again, the suspicion is of retaliation.

On the 18th, Vice President Mourão transferred the Amazon Council to his office and cut the participation of agents from Ibama and Funai (National Indigenous Foundation). With this, the Council, responsible for combating deforestation in the Legal Amazon. Only military personnel remained in its composition. “We expected such a thing in a government whose narrative from the beginning has been stimulating deforestation and land grabbing,” former Ibama president Suely Araújo told Globo.

At the end of the month, on April 30, Renê Oliveira and Hugo Loss, two of Ibama’s chief officers responsible for operations to combat mining and illegal logging in the Amazon, were exonerated. Both had taken part in the operations portrayed by Fantástico. According to rumors when Salles fired Olivaldi, servants considered Loss and Oliveira the next in line.

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil's most indigenous municipality

The municipality has no ICU beds; aerial and river transportation are suspended

Crédito: Paulo Desana/Dabakuri/Amazônia Real/CC BY 2.0

26 Apr 20

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil’s most indigenous municipality

The municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in Amazonas State, which has 90% of its population identified as indigenous, has registered its first two Covid-19 cases. The locality is a gateway to the region known as Dog’s Head (Cabeça do Cachorro), home to 23 different indigenous ethnic groups. It’s also a route to the Yanomami Indigenous Land, between Amazonas and Roraima States.

The city doesn’t have any ICU beds – the closest hospital is in Manaus, capital of Amazonas, 850 kilometers in a straight line away from São Gabriel, according to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. As an aggravating factor, aerial and river transportation were suspended because of the pandemic. In the beginning of April, Amazonas had the highest Covid-19 transmission rate in the country.

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

APIB denounces under-reporting and lack of government aid

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

23 Apr 20

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

According to the Indigenous People of Brazil Articulation (APIB), deaths among indigenous people rose by 800% in 15 days. Of the 10 registered casualties by April 23th, only four were recognized by the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai). APIB denounced the “under-reporting” and qualified as “institutional racism” the lack of monitoring of the situation of indigenous who live outside their traditional territories. “We don’t accept actions that make our people invisible and mask the actual risk of a new genocide”, the organization stated.

Indigenous  of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people is found dead in Rondônia State

Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau was threatened for months

Crédito: Gabriel Uchida/Kanindé/via Cimi

20 Apr 20

Indigenous of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people is found dead in Rondônia State

Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau, 33, of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, was found dead on the night of the 18th on the side of a road in Tarilândia, a district of the Jaru municipality, Rondônia State in the Amazon. Ari belonged to a vigilance group that denounced and registered illegal logging operations at indigenous territory.

According to a Karipuna representative, Ari was being threatened by loggers with several occurrences in the last few months. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Brasil), the Ethnic-environmental Defense Association (Kanindé) and the Missionary Indigenist Council (Cimi) confirmed the information.

The indigenous territory Uru-eu-wau-wau is considered by environmentalists as one of the most important in Rondônia, harbouring 17 river springs, rich biodiversity and several threatened animal species. Yet still Uru-eu-wau-wau faces one of the highest deforestation rates in the state.

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

Blockade in Xakriabá Indigenous Land tries to stop Covid-19 spread

Foto: Povo Xakriabá/Handout/via De Olhos Nos Ruralistas

14 Apr 20

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

To contain the pandemic in indigenous territories, over 23 ethnic groups built, by their own initiative, blockades and barriers on access roads to their villages, according to an article by the website De Olho Nos Ruralistas. The blockades happened in 12 Brazilian states: Acre, Roraima, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina e Bahia.

In the State of Minas Gerais, the Military Police violated the blockade and invaded the Indigenous Land Xakriabá with tow-trucks and cars, approaching the population without their consent. At the Buerarema municipality, Bahia State, the mayor asked for help to break the blockades and called the Tupinambá “alleged Indians”.

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

Alvanei Xirixana Pereira lived in villa Rehebe, a route for gold diggers

Crédito: Handout

11 Apr 20

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

The 15-year-old teenager Alvanei Xirixana Pereira, of the Yanomami group, is the first indigenous victim of the Covid-19 in Brazil. He died at the municipality of Alto Alegre, Roraima State. The Ministry of Health stated that it didn’t receive an official notification with the cause of death and that there are no registries of deaths by Covid-19 among the indigenous in the country so far.

According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the Sanitary District Yanomami is at a high risk of infection because of its proximity with the non-indigenous society. The teenager lived at the Rehebe village, which is en route for gold-diggers entering indigenous lands. 

The Hutukara Yanomami Association criticized the large presence of miners in the region and accused the government of neglect while dealing with Alvanei. “He went to Roraima General Hospital with respiratory symptoms on 18th of March, but was only diagnosed on April 7th. Meanwhile, he was sick and didn’t receive proper care”, says the release.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) said that it regretted the death and said that health teams are already on location to monitor new cases and isolate the group.

In the beginning of April, caiapó leaders in Turedjam, Pará State, drove away gold diggers from their village fearing the pandemic.

Covid-19: Amazonas State has the highest transmission rate in Brazil

Burial at the cemetery Parque Tarumã, in Manaus.

Crédito: Amazônia Real/via Fotos Públicas

8 Apr 20

Covid-19: Amazonas State has the highest transmission rate in Brazil

The State of Amazonas, in the Amazon region, became the country’s region with the highest coronavirus transmission rate. After confirming the first Covid-19 case among indigenous, in Santo Antônio do Içá, the State rose from 260 positive cases to 804 in just a few days.Rosemary Pinto, director of the Foundation of Health Contro (FVS-AM), warned about the “boom” in Amazonas. The State’s health secretary said that the health system is limited and Delphina Assis Hospital received refrigerated containers to manage the bodies of the dead by the virus. In Santo Antônio do Içá, there are three contaminated indigenous individuals.

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

Illegal gold mining camp in Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará state

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC

6 Apr 20

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

To contain the spread of the new coronavirus, caiapó leaders from Turedjam, Amazon Pará State, expelled 30 gold diggers from their land. “We always wanted to stop mining in our land. With the risk of contamination, we discussed and came to a consensus”, said Takatkyx Kayapós, a community leader, to Reuters.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) wasn’t a part of the negotiations, but declared to the press that it is “working to keep indigenous territories safe” in allegiance with the Federal Police and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama).

One year ago, the Ministry of the Environment exonerated 21 out of 27 regional inspectors. President Bolsonaro accused “a minority inside Funai” of blocking the development of the Amazon “to profit with the indigenous peoples”.

Minister of the Environment signs amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest destroyers

Environmentalists say that Salles measure brings legal uncertainty

Crédito: Palácio do Planalto/Carolina Antunes/PR/CC BY 2.0

6 Apr 20

Minister of the Environment signs amnesty to Atlantic Rainforest destroyers

Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, issued order 4.410/2020, following a recommendation from the Federal Attorney’s Office (AGU) that recognizes as consolidated areas the Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs) at the Atlantic Rainforest that were deforested. This allows landowners to resume production in their properties. The measure responds to an old demand by farmer’s organizations and provides an amnesty to rural landowners responsible for the destruction of crucial areas of the biome until 2008. The order uses the Forest Code, a general law, to hurt the Atlantic Rainforest Law, a special legislation that forbids the occupation of deforested areas in the biome. The Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima), an environmental coalition, published a technical note calling entities to question the minister’s decision in the judicial sphere.

Mario Mantovani, the director of the NGO SOS Atlantic Rainforest, in an interview for Folha de S. Paulo, said that Minister Salles is creating a problem not only to the forest but to the agribusiness, “who will face more pressure and people saying that they want to destroy the forest”. The public prosecutor Alexandre Gaio, from southern Parana state, said that the order causes judicial insecurity and threatens the region’s water security, since the ones responsible for the deforestation will no longer be obliged to recover the vegetation on river sides.

Drought puts southern Brazil in state of climate emergency

Crops affected by the droughts in Rio Grande do Sul State

Crédito: Handout/Defesa Civil do RS

3 Apr 20

Drought puts southern Brazil in state of climate emergency

Since August 2019, Santa Catarina, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul, the three states of Brazil’s South region, have faced a severe drought, with social and economic effects. In March 2020, the volume of rainfall in Rio Grande do Sul was 28 mm — a quarter of the historical average — and 299 municipalities declared a state of emergency. In Santa Catarina, the average rainfall was 550mm below the historical average. In Paraná, the flow of the Iguaçu falls is five times lower than normal. The impacts on corn, fruit, rice and soybean crops have been significant, with losses of 20% to 35% of harvests. Eduardo Assad, a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), says that the drought in the region is directly linked to global warming.

Covid-19: Gold diggers  advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

View from the Brazilian riverbank of the Oiapoque River, used as a route by gold diggers

Crédito: OBORÉ/Repórter do Futuro/Bruno Huberman/via CC

1 Apr 20

Covid-19: Gold diggers advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

The coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) received reports about an increased flow of illegal Brazilian miners at the Oiapoque river region, Amapa State, who were heading towards the French Guiana. Deutsche Welle Brasil (DW) talked with researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Ceará who stated that the Oiapoque is the primary route for smuggling of gold and other minerals illegally obtained. Claudette Labonté, president of the French Guiana Parikweneh Federation and a member of Coica said the police “let their guard down” during the pandemic. In February, the Brazilian government presented a bill that aims to legalize mining in indigenous territories.

Covid-19: First case confirmed among Amazon indigenous people

Medical staff arrives at Santo Antônio do Içá to monitor the situation

Crédito: Santo Antônio do Içá Health Department/Handout

31 Mar 20

Covid-19: First case confirmed among Amazon indigenous people

A 20 year old Kokama woman was the first diagnosed case of covid-19 among Amazon indigenous people. The Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai) identified the case . The young woman lives in Santo Antônio do Içá, Amazonas State. The coordinator of Epidemiological Control of the municipality informed that people who had previous contact with her will be quarantined. Santo Antônio do Içá has 4 confirmed cases so far.

Covid-19: In open letter, indigenous people from Tocantins call for prevention plan

Group asks immediate government response for claims of the indigenous peoples in the region

Crédito: Camila Almeida/iStock

31 Mar 20

Covid-19: In open letter, indigenous people from Tocantins call for prevention plan

A regional newspaper published an open letter signed by 20 indigenous leaders from cerrado state of Tocantins, calling on authorities to “expand and implement the Action Plan to Prevent the new Coronavirus (Covid-19)  to the indigenous peoples of Tocantins“, developed by indigenous activist Narubia Silva Werreria. The group stressed the vulnerability of the indigenous populations regarding the virus and the need of “urgent and effective preventive measures” to stop the pandemic in indigenous territories.

Twitter deletes post from Minister of the Environment with Covid-19 disinformation

Bolsonaro’s son and Ricardo Salles in video that was deleted due to fake news

Credits: Twitter

23 Mar 20

Twitter deletes post from Minister of the Environment with Covid-19 disinformation

After the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, and senator Flávio Bolsonaro posted an out of context video of the Brazilian medic Dráuzio Varella, Twitter determined that the tweets should be erased. Both suggested that Varella was downsizing the gravity of the virus. A Varella’s spokesperson said the usage of the video was “political” and promoted “disinformation”. 

This was not the first time that minister Salles used his social media profile as a medium to spread fake news. In 2019, he tweeted false information about a Greenpeace ship, correlating it to the oil spillage that struck Brazil’s coastline in August.

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Funai agents during operation against Covid-19 in the Waikás region.

Foto: Igor Soares/Ministry of Defense

20 Mar 20

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 17th, the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) issued the Ordinance nº 419, that suspends for 30 days the issuing of permits for entering indigenous territories. The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), however, identified critical excerpts in the text of the ordinance that open the possibility to contact isolated indigenous people amid the pandemic.

Cimi pointed out that the 3rd and 4th articles of the ordinance have serious problems. “The 3rd article in the ordinance conceives that the ‘Regional Coordinators will be able to issue permits in exceptional cases to take forward essential activities in indigenous communities’. The 4th article suspends all activities that may cause contact with isolated indigenous communities; however, following up, the paragraph opens an exception: “If the activity is essential to the survival of the isolated population, the authorities must allow their entrance through justifiable excuse”. The Council said it was “baffled” and “disgusted” at the possibility opened by the ordinance that would allow contact with isolated communities and reaffirmed the vulnerability of these populations facing “a grave and lethal virus”.

Joe Biden warns Bolsonaro about Amazon conservation

Joe Biden is running for president in the USA

Créditos: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA

16 Mar 20

Joe Biden warns Bolsonaro about Amazon conservation

In an interview to Americas Quarterly magazine, democratic candidate Joe Biden answered a question about the role of the USA regarding the protection of the Amazon rainforest. “President Bolsonaro must know that if Brazil fails in its responsibility of being Amazon’s guardian, my government will unite the world to protect the environment,”, he said.

Environmental fines drop by 34% in first year of Bolsonaro’s government; native timber exports are authorized

Native lumber exportation without control is liberated by the government

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

9 Mar 20

Environmental fines drop by 34% in first year of Bolsonaro’s government; native timber exports are authorized

According to data published by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, environmental fines are down by 34% during Jair Bolsonaro’s first year as a president. It’s the lowest rate since 1995. Questioned by the newspaper, the Ministry of the Environment said that “inspections are happening as usual”. Meanwhile, the government authorized, on March 4th, the export of native timber without the need of clearing from an environmental agency. The government’s authorization came after two loggers associations — who owe  R$ 15 million in environmental fines — filed a complaint.

São Paulo faces harsher droughts and storms due to climate change

Climatologists say that this trend will worsen if nothing is done

Crédito: BertonhaFB/iStock

4 Mar 20

São Paulo faces harsher droughts and storms due to climate change

A data analysis, published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, shows that the climate in São Paulo (SP), Brazil’s largest city, is 3ºC hotter when compared to the 1960s. The rainy and drought seasons are also more intense, according to information from the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet).

Until 1980, the city had only experienced one event in which it rained more than 100mm in a single day. Between 2010 and 2020, such events happened six times. The longer droughts in the 1960s used to last only 12 days. In 2012, the city experienced a 51 days streak without rain. The dry period was partially responsible for the severe supply crisis the city faced in 2014, which left many households without water for months.

Climatologists heard by the newspaper expect the trend to continue and be aggravated in the next decades. According to the scientists, the extreme droughts and rains happen because of global climate change, but are also influenced by the city’s urbanization process. With over 12 million inhabitants, they believe São Paulo will also face health issues related to climate change, such as an increase in mosquitoes that transmit diseases and heart and respiratory conditions.

Government plans to sink 73 ships along the Brazilian coastline

Fernando de Noronha National Marine Park has a rich and delicate ecosystem

Foto: Rafa Tecchio/via Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0

2 Mar 20

Government plans to sink 73 ships along the Brazilian coastline

The federal government, with the support of the Navy but without clear environmental criteria, intends to sink 73 ships to create artificial reefs in all the main touristic locations along the Brazilian coast, most of them located inside biodiversity conservation units and protected areas. 

The project, which is being spearheaded by the president’s son, Flávio Bolsonaro and tourism authorities, plans to build “marine museums” at Maritime National Park of Fernando de Noronha, a highly sensitive ecological site. Biologists issued warnings about the negative impacts of the plan.

Oil patches pollution still lingering in the Northeast coast after six months

Northeast coast still impacted by the 2019 oil spill

Crédito: Arquivo pessoal/João Moraes/via Agência Brasil

1 Mar 20

Oil patches pollution still lingering in the Northeast coast after six months

The pollution caused by the oil patches that reached over 1000 locations on the Brazilian coast lingers six months after the mysterious environmental disaster that struck the country in 2019. In the Northeast, the most affected area, federal university researchers say that even though the patches are no longer visible, the sea remains polluted and it will take some time before the researchers can properly assess the damages. Investigations are stalled, and the origin of the oil spillage remains unknown. According to authorities, there is little hope that the federal police will find the culprit.

Bolsonaro’s son pushes for investments at “Brazilian Cancun”

Investors are eyeing the region in south Rio de Janeiro State

Crédito: via Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0

17 Feb 20

Bolsonaro’s son pushes for investments at “Brazilian Cancun”

A meeting between senator Flávio Bolsonaro, Jair Bolsonaro’s son, and Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, Minister of Tourism, laid out an investment plan to the Green Coast, Southeast region of Rio de Janeiro State. The area, riddled with protected and environmental conservation areas,  includes the municipality of Angra dos Reis, and is being dubbed the “Brazilian Cancun” by the federal government.

Davos: investors react to environmental policies and worry Minister of Economy

Paulo Guedes during session in the 2020 World Economic Forum

Crédito: World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard/via Fotos Públicas

17 Feb 20

Davos: investors react to environmental policies and worry Minister of Economy

Upon coming back from the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Paulo Guedes, the minister of Economy, voiced concerns about  the Minister of Environment, Ricardo Salles, according to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. The news article says that one of the main alleged reasons from investors that are holding back their capitals from Brazil are concerns and doubts regarding the Brazilian government’s environmental policies.

Amazon deforestation rises 74%, says Imazon

Environmental degradation rose by 1382% in the region

Crédito: Shubham Singh/iStock

14 Feb 20
Greenpeace criticizes Amazon Council and Bolsonaro trashes the NGO

Bolsonaro called Greenpeace “trash”

Júlio Nascimento/PR/via Fotos Públicas

13 Feb 20

Greenpeace criticizes Amazon Council and Bolsonaro trashes the NGO

After Jair Bolsonaro “recreated” the Amazon Council — once called Legal Amazon Council, created in 1995 —, altering its coordination from the Ministry of the Environment to the vice-presidency, the NGO Greenpeace criticized the measure, stating that the “council doesn’t have a plan, goals or budget”. They also condemned the lack of participation by the state governors. When questioned by journalists about Greenpeace allegations, Bolsonaro once again snapped and called the NGO “trash” and “filth”.

Torrential rains in Brazil’s Southeast point to the effects of climate change

Inpe fala em “alteração do ciclo hidrológico” brasileiro

Crédito: Ranimiro Lotufo Neto/iStock

13 Feb 20

Torrential rains in Brazil’s Southeast point to the effects of climate change

Since early January, the Southeast states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santos and Minas Gerais have been hit by a series of torrential rains. On February 9, it rained the equivalent of 42% of what was expected for the entire month. In Minas Gerais State alone, 100 cities were put on alert level , 59 people died and 45,000 were displaced.

According to Paulo Nobre, coordinator of the Brazilian Model of Terrestrial System (BESM), of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), the rains were not episodic and point to the effects of climate change. “In Brazil, the change in the hydrological cycle is happening now. It is not a thing for 2100”, he said, in an interview with National Geographic Brasil.

If the authorities and government don’t act immediately, Nobre believes that the North, Northeast and part of the Midwest regions will suffer from reduced rainfall and longer droughts, which may increase the number of forest fires. “In the South and Southeast, the tendency of the biomes represented there is that more extreme and lasting droughts also occur, interspersed with very rainy periods”, he projects.

Government authorizes sports fishing inside conservation areas

The president was once fined for fishing in a restricted area

Crédito: Bolsonaro’s Archive via O Globo

6 Feb 20

Government authorizes sports fishing inside conservation areas

An ordinance by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) allowed sports fishing inside Conservation Units in all of Brazil’s biomes. The normative also applies to Integral Conservation Units, highly sensitive areas from the biodiversity and environmental protection perspective. President Jair Bolsonaro defends sports fishing with enthusiasm and was fined while fishing in a protected area in the coast of Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

Government excludes civil society from National Environment Fund

“Golpe duro contra o meio ambiente”, afirmou diretora da SBPC

Crédito: Gilberto Soares/MMA/Divulgação/Via G1

6 Feb 20

Government excludes civil society from National Environment Fund

A presidential decree excluded civil society organizations from the deliberative council of the National Environment Fund (FNMA). The Fund is linked to the Ministry of the Environment and finances sustainable development projects across the country. 

 

Representatives of the Brazilian Association of Environmental Organization (Abema), National Association of Municipalities and Environment, Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for the Environment and Development (FBOMS) and the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) will no longer be heard at the council.

A director for SBPC said that the measure is “a hard blow against the environment”.

Government's bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

Illegal gold mining camp in Jamanxim National Park (PA)

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

5 Feb 20

Government’s bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

During a celebratory ceremony that marked 400 days of Bolsonaro’s mandate, the federal government presented bill 191/2020 that aims to open indigenous territories for commercial exploitation. The bill proposes to regulate the extraction of gas, oil, gold and other minerals, as well as infrastructure such as hydropower plants and dams to generate electricity. The bill needs to be discussed and voted by the National Congress.

Bolsonaro says that he wants to “confine environmentalists”

Bolsonaro has threatened environmentalists since the election

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

5 Feb 20

Bolsonaro says that he wants to “confine environmentalists”

According to the newspaper O Globo, after signing the bill that aims to regulate mining and power plants  in indigenous territories, president Jair Bolsonaro said that he wished “he could confine those folks from the environment,” in the Amazon, “so that they would stop troubling the people who live in the region”.

Environmental public servants criticize Bolsonaro’s family project of a “Brazilian Cancun”

Rock formation in a Federal Reserve in Angra dos Reis (RJ)

Crédito: Adriana Gomes/ICMBIO/Acervo/via G1

30 Jan 20

Environmental public servants criticize Bolsonaro’s family project of a “Brazilian Cancun”

The National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema) spoke out against the bill presented by senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s older son, to create a tourism area in the southern coast of Rio de Janeiro. The project includes the revocation of the decree that creates Tamoios Ecological Station, a highly sensitive conservation unit in the region. Nicknamed “Brazilian Cancun”, by the president since last year, the area is currently protected by strict environmental laws. The environmental servants believe that the bill “threatens our environmental heritage and the life of many Brazilians”.

Oil spíllage affects 1,000 locations in Brazil’s coast

The origin of the oil who struck Brazil’s coast is unknown

Crédito: Adema/Governo de Sergipe/via Agência Brasil

24 Jan 20

Oil spíllage affects 1,000 locations in Brazil’s coast

According to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), 1,004 locations were affected so far by the oil spillage that started in August. 570 of them are already clean and 434 still show traces of contamination.

The investigations about the origin and culprits of the oil spill continue open and inconclusive after five months.

NGOs, social movements and politicians file criminal denounce against the Minister of the Environment

Grupo pede apuração de possíveis de crimes cometidos pelo ministro do Meio Ambiente

Crédito: Reprodução

22 Jan 20

NGOs, social movements and politicians file criminal denounce against the Minister of the Environment

Ceará’s Bar Association, Greenpeace and other entities and NGOs, in alliance with politicians and social movements representatives, presented a formal denunciation to the Brazilian Attorney-General’s Office against the Minister of the Environment.

They took action based on a story from newspaper Folha de S. Paulo which detailed  the participation of environmental infractors in a reunion with minister Salles in December 2019. That meeting resulted in the suspension of federal inspection and control in the Extractivist Reserve Chico Mendes in the Amazon region.

After criticism, Bolsonaro announces the creation of "Amazon Council"

President recreates council that existed since 1995

Crédito: Ildo Frazao/iStock

20 Jan 20

After criticism, Bolsonaro announces the creation of “Amazon Council”

After receiving criticism from the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), president Jair Bolsonaro announced the creation of the Amazon Council, coordinated by the vice-president Hamilton Mourão.

Via Twitter, Bolsonaro said that the council has the objective of “coordinating the several ministerial actions towards preserving, defending and sustainably developing” the Region. He also announced the creation of the National Environmental Force, responsible for protecting the Amazon.

NGO states that Bolsonaro gave “carte blanche” to criminal networks in the Amazon

HRW denounced Bolsonaro’s attacks against environmental protection measures

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/CC 2.0

14 Jan 20

NGO states that Bolsonaro gave “carte blanche” to criminal networks in the Amazon

An annual report by the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which analyzed the current situation of human rights in over 100 countries, presented strong criticism against Bolsonaro’s government regarding the deforestation rates and environmental protective measures in the Amazon. They stated that the government actions — or the lack of them — gave carte blanche to criminal networks in the region. HRW believes that the attacks made by Bolsonaro towards environmental control agents put both the Amazon and activists at risk.

Bolsonaro publishes measure that fosters illegal land grabbing

Specialist accuse measure of favoring environmental offenders

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

13 Dec 19

Bolsonaro publishes measure that fosters illegal land grabbing

President Jair Bolsonaro issued provisional measure 910/19 that allows concession and regularization of titles to public land grabbers and invaders. Among the proposals, the access to titles without previous inspections in lands up to 1400 hectares in some Amazon municipalities, as well as authorizing invaders to become owners of lands grabbed until December 2018. For the measure to become law in effect, it needs to be voted by the House of Representatives in a 120 day timeframe. In an interview with Deutsche Welle – Brazil, Raul Valle, a director for social environmental justice for WWF-Brasil, said that the measure “rewards those who invaded and expelled small farmers and traditional communities from public lands”.

COP-25: Brazil wins “Fossil of the day” Award; Minister says country is “no villain”

Award singles out countries that don’t protect the environment

Crédito: Climate Action Network International (CAN)/Twitter

12 Dec 19
Bolsonaro calls Greta Thunberg a "brat"

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg

Credits: Anders Hellberg/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY SA 4.0

10 Dec 19

Bolsonaro calls Greta Thunberg a “brat”

In response to swedish activist Greta Thunberg who called out the Brazilian government on the murder of indigenous leaders, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, called the activist a “brat”.

A government spokesperson defended Bolsonaro: “He wasn’t inappropriate or unpolite to Greta. She’s a brat, a person of short height and a child. You should check the dictionary”, he said. 

Guajajara indigenous leaders are killed in Maranhão

Guajajara protest after the killing of Raimundo and Firmino

Créditos: Josoaldo Oliveira/Divulgação/via O Globo

7 Dec 19
In 2019, Ministry of the Environment has paralysis in programs and unused funds

Vacant positions and non-utilized budget mark Salles first year at the head of ministry.

Credit: Barbara Veiga/Greenpeace

6 Dec 19

In 2019, Ministry of the Environment has paralysis in programs and unused funds

After approximately one year of Bolsonaro’s presidency, the Ministry of the Environment, under Ricardo Salles, has key positions idle and a total paralysis on programs. According to an examination by the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, there are 25 vacant senior positions at the ministry. Military personnel, chosen by the minister, are occupying the remaining high level jobs.

The ministry also didn’t spend any of the R$8 million that were destined to the National Fund on Environmental Change and the R$4,2 million reais that should go to the National Environment Fund, that supports conservation and sustainable development.

Salles halts inspections at federal reserve

Dois Irmãos Community, Extractivist Reserve Chico Mendes, in Xapuri, Acre State

Credit: Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace

4 Dec 19

Salles halts inspections at federal reserve

During a reunion at the Ministry of the Environment to discuss the future of the Extractivist Reserve Chico Mendes (Resex Chico Mendes), located at Acre State, the government suspended all federal inspections at that location. Five environmental offenders who attended the meeting complained about how federal agents of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), a government autarchy, were allegedly “truculent”.

COP- 25: Salles suggests "economic inclusion" for Amazon

Minister wants to settle environmental disputes using “market rules”

Crédito: Ministry of the Environment/Handout

2 Dec 19

COP- 25: Salles suggests “economic inclusion” for Amazon

During the panel “Dialogues between governments and civil society – strengthening joint actions” at COP-25, the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, spoke about how an “capitalist approach” that involves “economic inclusion” of its population is fundamental to the environmental preservation of the Amazon rainforest. “We must solve this issue standing by the rules that work all around the world: market rules”.

Alter do Chão Amazon Forest fires: Bolsonaro vs. WWF and Dicaprio

Bolsonaro accuses environment defender without proof

Crédito: Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil

30 Nov 19
On the eve of COP-25, Bolsonaro publicizes environmental measures

Initiative is seen as an attempt to improve Brazil’s image abroad

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

29 Nov 19
Police arrests activists on iffy charges after forest fires at Alter do Chão

Detained volunteers act against the spread of forest fires in the region

Crédito: Brigada de Alter do Chão (PA)/Handout/via Agência Brasil

27 Nov 19

Police arrests activists on iffy charges after forest fires at Alter do Chão

Brazilian civil  society was taken by surprise when the Civil Police of Para State preventively arrested four volunteer firefighters in Alter do Chão, municipality of Santarém. The arrests were made as part of an operation that investigates the origin of forest fires that affected Alter do Chão back in September, which burnt an area the size of 1,600 football fields. According to the state civil police, investigations point that NGOs, among them the Alter do Chão Fire Brigade, acted to start the fires.  

 

The police also raided the office for Saude e Alegria Project (PSA), using a generic search warrant to apprehend computers and paperwork. Just last week, the NGO won a prize as one of the Best 99 NGOs in Brazil. Caetano Scannavino, coordinator for PSA, said: “It’s a nightmare. What we can clearly see is a political action to try to demoralise NGOs working in the Amazon. It’s very worrisome.” Caetano says he personally knows the 4 arrested people, and one of them works for PSA. “They all seem to be extremely committed people”.  

 

Later that day, a police sheriff with the Civil Police in Para said that they have plenty of investigative material on the alleged irregular work of NGOs in the state. He said that 3 local Santarém NGOs – Projeto Saúde e Alegria, Brigada Alter do Chão e Aquíferos Alter do Chão – received money from WWF Brazil to fight the fires, but that some of this money had been diverted. The information about money diversion was not part of the original denouncement that came to the public. 

 

All 3 NGOs published notes and denied irregularities, saying that were taken by surprise with the accusations and making themselves available for the inquiries. On the 27th, during a custody hearing with the judge, the 4 detained volunteers asked for the suspension of the preventive arrests, but the request was denied. Their lawyer is now taking the case to the State Justice Court where a request for habeas corpus will be filed.

When asked to comment on this case, the Minister of the Environment only said it is a Para State led investigation and that it’s necessary to wait for the findings of the inquiry.

Public prosecution office says Alter do Chão fires started with land-grabbers

Prosecution rules out brigadiers participation in the fires

Crédito: Eugênio Scannavino/Personal Archive

27 Nov 19

Public prosecution office says Alter do Chão fires started with land-grabbers

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) asked for full access to the inquiry that led to the arrest of four brigadiers accused of forest fires in Alter do Chão, in the State of Pará. Opposed to what the Pará Civil Police established, the MPF pointed to the action of land-grabbers and declared “that there were no elements that pointed to the participation of brigadiers or civil society organizations”. The prosecutors algo pointed that as one of the most famous river beach destinations in the country, the area is coveted by the tourism and real estate industries, and is under threat of public land invaders.

Oil spill increases coral mortality

Coral collected in beach struck by oil spillage in the Brazilian coast

Crédito: Projeto Coral Vivo/Handout

26 Nov 19

Oil spill increases coral mortality

A study by the Biology Institute of the Federal  University of Bahia (UFBA)  showed that after the oil spill, the coral mortality on the coast of Bahia increased ten fold. According to the researchers, the bleaching rate for the corals, which is usually around 5% -6% of the organisms per year, is now in 52% in the studied regions. The study also detected  impacts on biodiversity of species; before the oil, there was an average number of 88 species; after, the number fell to 47.

Oil patches reach Rio de Janeiro

Oil fragments at Grussaí beach in Rio de Janeiro state

Crédito: Ibama/Handout/via MoneyTimes

23 Nov 19

Oil patches reach Rio de Janeiro

The oil spill that affected the Northeast since the end of August arrived in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Ibama and the navy have confirmed that the patches spotted in the municipality of São João da Barra were the same crude oil found in another 10 states. The latest report accounts for 724 localities affected in 11 states.

Bolsonaro rants against environmental preservation

President ignores data about deforestation and lies about environmental conservation

Crédito: Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 3.0 BR

21 Nov 19

Bolsonaro rants against environmental preservation

A  day after declaring that deforestation is a “cultural  thing” in Brazil, President Bolsonaro ranted again when the press asked him questions about environmental issues. “How is Brazil now in the environment? 61% is still preserved. What other  country in the world has it? No other. So nobody can bother us about the environmental issue,” he said to journalists as he was leaving the presidential palace. “What is the forest in the margins of rivers in Europe? One palm? (…) We only have the machine of our economy which is agribusiness. Do they want to bury agribusiness? Want me to do what some leaders wanted in the first international meeting, to go from 14% to 20% of indigenous reservations. Do they want to finish Brazil? It ends, and you will eat grass. You from the press  will eat grass because there will be no more food in the fields”. 

On the same day, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), relaxed the rules for monitoring and fines against buyers of illegal wood. The measure makes it more difficult to punish sawmills that buy wood using fraudulent documents and may encourage illegal logging in the Amazon.

“Results-driven environmentalism”

Minister of the Environment in a meeting with governors from Legal Amazon states

Crédito: Ministério do Meio Ambiente/Handout

20 Nov 19

“Results-driven environmentalism”

The Ministry of the Environment, in alliance with governors from Brazil’s Legal Amazon – Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Roraima, Pará, Maranhão, Amapa, Tocantins and Mato Grosso states – launched a set of governmental measures regarding the “sustainable development” of the region. Minister Ricardo Salles spoke about “results-driven environmentalism” and “including to preserve”.

Despite the speech of the minister, data collected by the news website Poder360, show that the number of fines applied by environmental agencies fell by 22% and the value of fines, 33%, the lowest level since 2000.

“Forest fires are a cultural thing”

Once again, president shows contempt for environmental protection

Crédito: G1/Reproduction

20 Nov 19

“Forest fires are a cultural thing”

In a meeting with the press, president Bolsonaro was asked if he talked to the  Minister of  the Environment about the increase in Amazon deforestation in 2019 as reported by INPE a few days earlier. ‘You are not going to put an end to deforestation or to the fires, it’s a cultural thing. I saw Marina Silva criticising the day before yesterday. In her time, we had the highest level of illicit in the Amazon region,” declared the president. Marina Silva was Minister of the Environment between 2003 and 2008; in a tweet on November 18th, she said: “The President has no commitment to the truth. As Minister of the Environment, I implemented a Plan to Prevent and Control deforestation in the Amazon that reduced the deforestation rate in 80% from 2004-2012”.

695 locations are affected by oil spillage

Navy and Ibama collect oil residues at Maragogi beach, Alagoas State

Crédito: Marinha do Brasil/via Fotos Públicas

20 Nov 19
Amazon loses 10,000 square kilometers of forests

Deforesting in the region is at its highest since 2008

Crédito: Jornal Nacional/Handout

18 Nov 19

Amazon loses 10,000 square kilometers of forests

INPE released data from the system Prodes, which calculates the annual rate of Amazon deforestation. Almost 10,000 km2 of forests were lost between August 2018 and July 2019, a 29% increase  in  comparison to the previous year. It is the highest yearly increase since 2008, when  forest  destruction rose by 31% in a 12-month period.

Oil spill reaches Southeast region

Ten Brazilian States are already affected by spillage

Crédito: Jornal Hoje/Handout

8 Nov 19
Federal Police claims to have unveiled the vessel responsible for oil spillage

De acordo com a investigação, não há outro navio suspeito

Crédito: Reprodução

1 Nov 19

Federal Police claims to have unveiled the vessel responsible for oil spillage

The Federal Police carried operations with search warrants at a maritime agency that would be the representative of the Bouboulina ship – a potential suspect of the oil spill that is contaminating the Northeast. The Greek flagged Bouboulina vessel belongs to Delta Tankers, who in Brazil employed Lachmann Maritime Services as representative. The investigation used  satellite imagery in retrospect to locate the ship  and the origin of the crude oil. According to  the inquiry, there is no indication of another ship  that could have leaked or spilled crude oil coming from Venezuela. The Federal Prosecution Office informed that the estimate is that 2,500 tons of crude oil were spilled on the sea. They also claimed to have strong evidence that the ship’s captain and crew did not alert the competent authorities about the oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean.

Paulino Guajajara is murdered

Guajajara was threatened and asked for protection to a witness protection service

Crédito: Patrick Raynaud/Midia Ninja/via CC BY-SA 4.0

1 Nov 19

Paulino Guajajara is murdered

Paulino Guajajara, an indigenous forest agent from the Guajajara people in Maranhão State,  was ambushed and assassinated by invading loggers  inside the Araribóia indigenous reservation. Paulino died from a gunshot wound to his face; another indigenous leader, Laercio Guajajara, was  hurt and taken to a hospital. There were reports that one of the loggers also died in the conflict but his body was yet to be located. Paulino had been getting death threats for a while and had requested to join the witness protection service in a state program. “He didn’t have the time,” said Sonia Guajajara, coordinator for the Articulation  of the Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) and a relative of Paulino.

“Fish are smart”

National Secretary of Fishery became a laughing stock after statement about the oil crisis

Crédito: Handout

31 Oct 19

“Fish are smart”

On a live streaming on YouTube, President Bolsonaro once again called the oil spill a “criminal act” and that the government has known and worked on it for the past two months.

Together with the National Secretary of Fishery on the video, they assured that fishing is not  forbidden in the affected  areas. “There is no  notification about  contaminations. The few we received were  about people covered in some oil  that used remover to  clean up,” the Fishery Secretary said, adding: “The fish is a smart animal. When he sees an oil patch there,  Captain (referring to president Bolsonaro), he  escapes, he is scared. So obviously you can eat your little  fish with  no worries; lobster, shrimp, all perfectly sane”, in another epic moment for the Brazilian internet. 

President Bolsonaro agreed with the Secretary of Fishery, complementing: “Obviously, sometimes, a turtle gets caught there in the oil patch – not to say that nothing happens right? One fish, one dolphin, it might happen, but it’s fine”. 

President Bolsonaro also affirmed that the investigations continue and that “it  is more than proven that the oil is from Venezuela. Maybe the  ‘left’ will  attack me because I said that”. He promised that, despite his busy agenda, he would visit the affected areas and “take a dive somewhere”. 

Still streaming, the president jumped on, to once again,  talk about how he plans to revoke the conservation status for the Angra dos Reis Bay, where he fantasizes of the “Brazilian Cancun” to attract foreign investors.

Federal universities study impacts of oil spill

Facing the limited government response, universities are mobilizing

Crédito: João Moraes/Personal Archive/via Agência Brasil

24 Oct 19

Federal universities study impacts of oil spill

Since the beginning of the oil spill crisis, federal universities and research centers have played an important role in the monitoring, analysing and supporting of the cleaning efforts, often standing in opposition to the official narrative of “it’s not so bad, you can eat the fish, everything is under control” adopted by the government. Researchers from Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) said that the monitoring of the affected areas need to be sustained for years to come, with periodic, constant analysis, to make sure people are not going into intoxicated zones. Another UFBA researcher said that governments do not want to call much attention because a case like this affects tourism, but there are health issues, both to who goes to the beaches and to those that make a living fishing in these regions”.

A research group at UFBA investigated 38 marine animals from the spill  areas and found oil in their digestive systems; although the level of  toxicity was not yet clear, health officials advised people to avoid consuming fish and seafood from the affected regions. Researchers made clear that the damage is serious and will last decades. 

By November, there was research about the oil spill ongoing at Federal Universities in Pernambuco,  Rio de Janeiro, Ceará, Alagoas and Bahia. The engagement of the Federal Universities and public research centers  is especially relevant as they have also been a target of the dismantling, anti-science policies of Bolsonaro’s presidency, facing budget cuts above 30% and being targeted by fake news coming from the Ministry of Education.  

Greenpeace is targeted with fake news by Minister of the Environment

24/10/19

Crédito: Twitter

24 Oct 19

Greenpeace is targeted with fake news by Minister of the Environment

The Minister of Environment took to Twitter to diffuse fake news amid the oil spill crisis. He posted a picture of the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza along with a text that read: “There are coincidences in life…It seems that the #greenpixe ship was fitly sailing international waters in front of the Brazilian coast right around the time of the venezuelan oil spill…”. 

The infamous tweet generated a lot of backlash towards the Minister. Deputy Rodrigo Maia, President of the Chamber of Deputies, also used Twitter to challenge Minister Salles on presenting an official position about the accusation. Salles then responded Maia by attacking Greenpeace from a different angle: “the Greenpeace ship confirmed that it sailed close to the Brazilian coast by the time the Venezuelan oil showed up, and, just like their members on land, did not engage to help”. 

Later on the same day, Greenpeace  published a note clarifying that the ship was en route from the Caribbean to Uruguay and announced that the filing of a diffamation criminal complaint against Minister Salles at a Federal court.

Federal Prosecution Office calls out ineffectiveness of government on oil crisis

Bolsonaro raised unfounded suspicions about the origin of the oil

Crédito: Isac Nóbrega/PR/via CC BY 2.0

19 Oct 19

Federal Prosecution Office calls out ineffectiveness of government on oil crisis

On a live streaming on Facebook on the 18th, president Bolsonaro raised  the possibility that the oil spill affecting the  Northeast may have been done on purpose, aiming to jeopardize the mega oil auction scheduled to happen in November. Sitting with the Minister of Defense, Bolsonaro said: “Coincidence or not, we have an upcoming auction (…).  I ask myself, and we have to be  responsible when we  speak up: could it have been a criminal action to affect this auction? The question is  up in the air“. He once again affirmed that the origin of the oil is Venezuela.  

On the same day, the Federal Prosecution Office filed an action asking Justice to oblige the Federal Government to activate the National Contingency Plan for Oil Pollution Incidents within 24 hours. The urgent request aimed at increasing the efforts to combat the oil spill affecting the Northeast, as MPF considered the government “omissive, inert, ineffective and inefficient ” with regards to the incident. One of the reasonable explanations for the delays and limitations of the government’s response might be in the fact that, earlier in April, president Bolsonaro extinguished, via the presidential decree that deleted several social councils and expert chambers, two technical committees responsible for implementing the National Contingency Plan for Oil Pollution Incidents.

By mid-October, a  IBAMA report showed that 178 beaches in 72 different  cities in all 9 Northeast states had been affected by the crude oil patches. They also reported about finding 29 marine animals with oil, of which 15 turtles and 2  seabirds. The oil spill was classified as the largest  environmental accident in the country in terms of extension, with 2,100 km of oil patches from Bahia to Maranhão.

Oil patches advance threatening protected areas

Oil fixated in coral reef in the coast of the state of Alagoas

Crédito: Pedro Pereira/ICMBio

17 Oct 19

Oil patches advance threatening protected areas

Ibama’s president confirmed during a hearing at the Senate that the crude oil spilled in the Northeast originated in Venezuela. “This oil is Venezuelan. The DNA is Venezuelan. It’s a certainty, it’s an affirmation, it’s not speculation. Does it mean that Venezuela is responsible for the spill? No, this is another matter,” he said. On the same day, oil patches reached parts of the Coral Coast Environmental Protected Area, the largest coastal conservation unit in Brazil. The 400,000 hectares area is located between Northeast states of Alagoas and Pernambuco, with 120 km of beaches and mangroves. A 3m diameter oil patch was  spotted arriving in the region, the largest  patch detected so far. A task force with local residents,  city, state and federal personnel  installed contention barriers and did clean up work  on  the beaches.

Catholic Church Synode takes place at the Amazon region

Church discussed indigenous rights, environment and the Amazon

Jeffrey Bruno/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY-SA 2.0

12 Oct 19

Catholic Church Synode takes place at the Amazon region

Pope Francis celebrated the opening mass for the Amazon Synode, in the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  The Synode gathered bishops and other guests from 9 countries of the Biome to debate issues concerning the Catholic Church work in the region, the environment and local residents, including indigenous peoples.

During a 10-minute homily, the Pope criticised the recent forest fires that ravaged the Amazon, asked that the church does not limit itself to a “maintenance pastoral” and that the synode has the inspiration to “renew the pathways to the church in the region”. A group of Brazilian indigenous linked to CIMI (Missionary Indigenist Council) attended the celebration, together with more than 200 cardinals and bishops. At the end, the group held a banner inside de Basilica with the message “against the theft, destruction and invasion of indigenous territories”. 

Less than a week later, at a Conservative Congress organized by Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, far-right groups attacked the Synode and Pope Francis. They complained about Dom Claudio Hummes, who is close to the Pope and also engaged in human rights struggles in Brazil, saying that he is a “personal friend of former president Lula”. They also attacked the Liberation Theology and a “red sect” inside the church, labelling it “tyranny”, and placing the Synode as a grave menace to Brazil’s soverignty over the  Amazon.

Bolsonaro attacks NGOs while addressing oil spillage

12/10/19

Crédito: Twitter

12 Oct 19

Bolsonaro attacks NGOs while addressing oil spillage

Under increasing pressure to solve the origin of the oil spill and work harder on contention measures in the Northeast, president Bolsonaro chose irony to attack NGOs on a tweet about the matter: “Since September 02 our government is trying to identify who is responsible for the oil spill in the beaches of  the Northeast. We are worried about the unusual silence of the UN and the NGOs, always so attentive to the environment”.

Government tries to sell blocks for oil exploration near conservation units

Abrolhos holds the most diverse marine biodiversity in the South Atlantic

Crédito: ICMBio/Handout

10 Oct 19

Government tries to sell blocks for oil exploration near conservation units

On a public bid open to oil companies and consortiums, the Brazilian government included 4 blocks for oil and gas exploration on the Camamu-Almada Basin, located only 130 km away from the coral reefs of the Abrolhos National Maritime Park, the first of its kind and a milestone on ocean and biodiversity conservation in Brazil. The proposal to put up for auction oil blocks located in the buffer zone for Abrolhos Park faced strong opposition from NGOs and the Federal Prosecution Office. 

 

The government went ahead with the offer despite a technical analysis by Ibama that demanded additional environmental impact studies before it could even be considered for auction. Ibama, marine life researchers and environmentalists denounced the potential for irreversible damage in case of accidents and oil spills, and the impact on protected species such as humpback whales. 

At the auction, promoted by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP), none of the Abrolhos blocks received offers from bidders. Campaigners from 350.org and No-Fracking networks celebrated the result, claiming that social pressure scared companies from those blocks.

As investigations on oil spillage start, Bolsonaro suggests ‘terrorism’

Oil removal operation at Pontal do Peba beach, Alagoas State

Crédito: Ascom/Brasil de Fato/via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

7 Oct 19

As investigations on oil spillage start, Bolsonaro suggests ‘terrorism’

On October 5th, president Bolsonaro ordered the investigation of the causes of the oil spill in the Northeast. The investigations are being done by the Federal Police, Ministry of Defense, Ibama and ICMBio. When announcing the inquiry, he said: “It might be criminal, it might be an accidental spill, it can be a sunken ship as well. It’s complex. We have, in our radar, a country that can be the origin of the crude oil. Apparently the leak is not coming from an oil platform”. The president also recognized the negative impacts for tourism, a key economic activity for the  Northeast in the  coming summer. By October 7th, the oil patches had affected 132 localities, in 61  different  municipalities in all 9 Northeast states.

Bolsonaro weaponizes indigenous farmers against indigenous leaders

Chief Raoni was attacked by the president during speech at UN

Alan Santos/PR/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

5 Oct 19

Bolsonaro weaponizes indigenous farmers against indigenous leaders

When president Bolsonaro spoke at the UNGA in New York, he not only attacked Chief Raoni, but also used  some other indigenous ‘representatives’ to fragment the indigenous movement. He read a letter from a so-called Indigenous Agriculture Group to Ysani  Kalapalo, who is an indigenous who supports Bolsonaro

 

This group is formed by some indigenous representatives who have established industrialized agriculture  within their  reservations in questionable agreements with state governments. Soon after Bolsonaro’s speech at UNGA, several recognized indigenous networks (such as APIB and ATIX),  repudiated his anti-demarcation words, said they did not recognize Ysani as a legitimate representative of  the people of the Xingu nor supported the letter.

Document shows that the Army refused to support operations against illegal gold diggers in the Amazon

Ibama team deactivates machinery at an illegal gold digging camp inside a indigenous territory

Crédito: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

29 Sep 19

Document shows that the Army refused to support operations against illegal gold diggers in the Amazon

Military personnel involved in the Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) mission, decreed by President Jair Bolsonaro to combat deforestation in the Amazon, refused to support operations of the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama on at least three different occasions, according to a document obtained by the newspaper O Globo.

The allegation was that operations against illegal mining could lead to the destruction of the mining equipment used by the criminals, a common Ibama practice that President Bolsonaro rejects. The destruction, allowed since 2008, aims to render the machinery unusable. The storage of apprehended goods may pose risks for inspectors.

Bolsonaro’s son attacks Greta Thunberg with fake news

25/09/2019

Crédito: Twitter

26 Sep 19
Oil patches appear in Brazil’s Northeast

Oil arrives at Maracaípe beach, Pernambuco State

Crédito: Salve Maracaípe/via Fotos Públicas

26 Sep 19

Oil patches appear in Brazil’s Northeast

After several weeks of being ignored by the mainstream media and minimized by the federal government, the mysterious oil patches that started appearing in different beaches in the Northeast of the country in late August finally made national headlines. 

The first patches of crude oil were seen on August  30th  in Paraiba state; then, on September  2nd, the spill was spotted in Pernambuco state. By September 26, 99 localities in 46 different municipalities from 8 Northeast states had been affected according to IBAMA. By then, investigations had already shown that all the samples of crude oil shared the same origin but were unable to identify the source of the spill. Petrobras clarified that Brazil does not produce crude oil.

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

Bolsonaro teased France president during speech

Alan Santos/PR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

25 Sep 19

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

In his second global stage moment, President Bolsonaro used the opening session of the UN General Assembly in NY to reveal to the world his far right, pro-dictatorship, anti-indigenous rights program. In a little over 30 minutes, he defied critics of his environmental policies and attacked environmental fines, claiming that the numbers on the record forest fires registered in 2019 are inflated by global media to target him.  

New Yorker Magazine summarized: “Bolsonaro gave a predictably defiant defense of his country’s policies regarding the environment, especially the Amazon rainforest, sixty per cent of which lies within Brazil’s borders. For non-Brazilians, hearing Bolsonaro speak on the topic must have been a surreal experience (…) This summer, the Amazon’s forests went up in flames. But, on Tuesday, Bolsonaro asserted that the forests were “practically untouched,” and blamed a “lying and sensationalist media” for propagating fake news about their destruction”. 

Bolsonaro also decried the notion that the Amazon is “a heritage of humankind,” in a message directed to French president Macron. He reaffirmed that there will be no new demarcation of indigenous lands and complained about the extension of the current demarcated reservations. He concentrated attacks against Chief Raoni,  a historic indigenous leader that was nominated to receive the Nobel Prize  in 2019. “The views of one indigenous leader do not represent all Brazilian indigenous communities. Often, some of these leaders, like Chief Raoni, are manipulated by foreign governments  in their information wars  to advance their interests over the Amazon,” he said. 

On the next day (25), Chief Raoni  went to the National Congress for a  hearing and responded to  the president’s attacks at the UNGA: “Bolsonaro said I am  not a leader, but he is the one that can’t lead. He needs to leave, before something  really bad happens,he needs to leave. For the better of all people”. 

Data released by the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) on September 24, show that invasions of indigenous lands grew 44% in 2019, when compared to 2018. The invasions for gold digging, hunting, land grabbing and exploitation of natural resources coincide with the increase in 22% in the number of indigenous people murdered. “The aggressiveness in the speech of the President of the Republic and members of the government serves as fuel for the violence committed against the territories and the native peoples”, said Cimi.

Environmental management actions are paralyzed; Ibama cuts inspections by 22%

Ibama team fights deforestation at Indigenous Land Tenharim do Igarapé Preto, in 2018

Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

11 Sep 19

Environmental management actions are paralyzed; Ibama cuts inspections by 22%

Data indicates that the Bolsonaro government, in its first eight months, froze environmental programs management. According to a report by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the ministry of the Environment committed only  R$1.17 million to develop its priority activities. In 2018, the amount was R$35.6 million reais. Among the areas with unused resources are prevention and control of deforestation, climate change and urban environmental agenda.

The National Policy on Climate Change, for example, which had R$10.4 million in its approved budget, spent only R$122 thousand. The government was supposed to deliver a plan to implement the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which has not yet occurred.

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), linked to the Ministry, also showed a 22% reduction in the inspection operations planned in the National Annual Environmental Protection Plan (Pnapa). In April, the government cut the agency’s budget by 31%.

Funai public servant is murdered in the Amazon

Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was working in a protected area in Vale do Javari region

Crédito: Personal archive

11 Sep 19

Funai public servant is murdered in the Amazon

An indigenist (expert on indigenous issues) connected with FUNAI was killed in front of his family in the city of Tabatinga, Amazonas state, on the border with Colombia. Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was executed with a shot to the back of his head in a busy street, according to information from INA (the association of public servants for FUNAI). Maxciel worked in the Javari Valley, a region that concentrates dozens of uncontacted indigenous groups and a highly sensitive ecological area suffering increasing invasions by illegal loggers, miners and hunters. INA requested protection for Funai workers, but many indigenists left the region due to death threats. “The invaders already sent their message: they will not stop. FUNAI people already left. Who wants to be killed for nothing?”, declared Adelson Korá, coordinator for the Kanamary Indigenous Association of the Javari Valley.

New Environmental licensing bill vote postponed

Rodrigo Maia, president of the Chamber of Deputies, created a commision to analyse the bill

Crédito: Luis Macedo/Câmara dos Deputados/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 3.0

10 Sep 19

New Environmental licensing bill vote postponed

Due to lack of consensus and increased social pressure, the Chamber of Deputies took a step back and decided to postpone the voting of the bill that creates  a new General Law for Environmental Licensing in Brazil. The proposal has been under legislative debate for over 15 years, with mining and agribusiness lobbyists trying to weaken and fast track environmental licenses and environmentalists opposing it. Deputy Rodrigo Maia, president of the Chamber, established a General Commission to analyse the matter; the project is now in its 5th version and there is no established date for voting.

Minister  ignores prosecution orders and criticizes environmental agencies

Salles attacked public servants and asked for “respect to the private sector”

Crédito: Handout/via UOL

9 Sep 19

Minister ignores prosecution orders and criticizes environmental agencies

The Environmental Chamber of the Federal Prosecution Office, and prosecutors that work in the Amazon region, issued a formal recommendation to the Ministry of the Environment requesting the adoption of effective and concrete measures to curb  deforestation and fight forest fires in Brazil. The document lists 13 emergency actions to stop ongoing environmental destruction in the country. Among the proposed actions, the prosecutors recommend that  the Minister abstain from making declarations that delegitimize or invalidate Ibama and ICMBio. The document came as a response to complaints by public servants and employees of federal environmental agencies, who sent written representations to the prosecutors about the behaviour of the Minister of Environment. Only a few days later, Minister Salles disobeyed the Federal Prosecutors recommendation and once again criticized his own environmental agencies to an audience of business leaders in Sao Paulo. He said that previous governments made Ibama and ICMBio inefficient and bloated. “This is an unfortunate disease that is found across the public service and we need to put an end to it (…) this corporatist, unionist mentality destroyed our country  (…) We can not have a biased, anticapitalist view  that treats entrepreneurs  as  potential  bandits”.

Ministry of the Environment facing new budget cuts

Fire prevention and control sector may be affected by budget cuts

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

4 Sep 19

Ministry of the Environment facing new budget cuts

The federal government budget  for 2020 predicts  a 10% cut for the Ministry of the Environment, in comparison to the 2019 approved budget. Even with the crisis related to Amazon deforestation and  fires, budget cuts will also impact the sectors that work on prevention and control  forest fires; it is estimated that the  sector will lose 34% of its  resources for next year.

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

Flight over Indigenous Land Ituna/Itatá reveals gold digging camps and forest fires

Crédito: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

29 Aug 19

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

During a control operation near the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, in Altamira, Amazon Pará State, gold diggers opened fire at a team of federal agents from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Members of the Federal Police and the National Public Security Force who were part of the operation shot back, but there were no injuries reported. The perpetrators of the attack hid in the woods and were not arrested.

Hugo Loss, the Ibama official responsible for the operation, told Reuters that they apprehended and destroyed two backhoes and three motors that were used in the camp. According to Loss, there’s a significant rise in land grabbing in the region, which increases  deforestation in the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, which is located in the influence area of the Belo Monte hydropower plant.

Macron and Bolsonaro clash over Amazon fires

22/09/2019

Crédito: Twitter

26 Aug 19

Macron and Bolsonaro clash over Amazon fires

Reacting to the trending coverage on forest fires, on the 22nd, French President Emannuel Macron used Twitter  to convene G7 country members  to discuss Amazon destruction, which he labelled as an “international crisis”. On the eve  of the G7 Summit  in Biarritz, he  posted that the forest produces 20%  of the global oxygen, along with a picture from 2003 and an inaccurate depiction of the Amazon as “lungs  of the world”. Macron’s comment came after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted about his deep concerns with the forest fires. “The Amazon needs to be protected,” he wrote.

 

President Bolsonaro didn’t like Macron’s comments and used social media to reply on the same day. He accused the French President of meddling with an internal Brazilian issue, criticised the “sensationalist” tone of his post and the use of a ‘fake’ picture.

 

On the 23rd, Macron charged again and called Bolsonaro a ‘liar’ for not living up to the environmental compromises assumed at the Osaka  G20 summit in June. The French government said that, under such conditions, the ratification of Mercosul – EU trade deal could be off the table. President Bolsonaro once again replied on Twitter: “I’m sorry for the position of Chief of State calling another  president a liar. It was not us that published pictures from last century to fuel hate against  Brazil for sheer vanity. Our yellow and green country lives in hearts around the world”.

 

On the 24th, already at the G7 summit, Macron posted a video on social media saying he would like the meeting to respond to the crisis of the forest fires in the Amazon. ” The Amazon is our common good. We are all worried”.  Right after the publication, the Brazilian Presidency Press Secretary shared on Macron’s profile the video of the official announcement made earlier by president Bolsonaro on radio and TV. When listing measures to fight the fires in the Amazon, Bolsonaro stressed Brazil’s sovereignty on the issue. “Forest fires happen  all over the world and this can not be used  as a pretext for potential international sanctions,” he declared. 

 

Later that day, the provocations escalated when Bolsonaro commented on a picture posted by a follower that ironically compared Macron’s  and Bolsonaro’s wives based on their age and looks, implying that Macron would be ‘jealous’ of the Brazilian president because he  is married to a younger woman and thus attacking Brazil using forest fires. French and Brazilian feminist movements reacted.

 

On the 25th, the G7 announced its immediate support to fight Amazon fires in Brazil and other South American countries. When learning that German chancellor Angela Merkel would call him to clarify the G7 support, Bolsonaro claimed ‘victory’ against  Macron’s so called  ‘crisis’.

 

On the 26th,  during a press  conference, French president Macron rebuked the comment about his wife, classifying Bolsonaro as someone who is “extremely disrespectful”, adding that he believes that Brazilian women feel shame when reading such comments from their president. “With great friendship and respect for the Brazilian people, I hope that they will soon have a president that can  live up to the job,” he said. 

 

On twitter, Bolsonaro wrote that Brazil can not accept “unreasonable and gratuitous attacks to the Amazon” from  Macron, even if such attacks are undercovered  as an alliance of G7 countries to save the Amazon as if we were a colony or no one’s land”.

Amazon fires turn day into night in São Paulo

São Paulo sky, at around 3PM, on August 19

@CaioBerkley/Twitter

23 Aug 19

Amazon fires turn day into night in São Paulo

It was a cold Monday afternoon in São Paulo, the largest Brazilian city, located thousands of kilometers away from the Amazon.  Around 3 pm, the sky became dark and the day turned into night: it was no storm, but clouds of smoke and polluted water vapor that covered the entire metropolitan region. Meteorologists said that the phenomena was a combination between a cold wave and smoke from forest fires in Rondonia and Bolivia. The event made headlines around the world and created a momentum for national and international media coverage on the forest fires that had been ravaging several areas of the Amazon for weeks.

According to data from INPE, 52,5% of all Brazil’s  forest fires hotspots were concentrated in the Amazon region in 2019; the number of fires between January and August 18th increased 82% when compared to the previous year. Environmentalists and researchers associated the increased fires to the peaks in deforestation registered by INPE in June and July – which were stubbornly denied by the government and triggered the exoneration of INPE’s director in the beginning of August. INPE’s analysis were further corroborated by NASA, that said that it was possible to correlate the main fire hotspots with signature deforestation in the region, and not to other human activities such as clearing for preparing the land for cattle or crops. 

When asked about the crisis, president Bolsonaro chose to (again) blame NGOs. Referring to the cuts on Fundo Amazônia, he said: “Crime exists and we need to do what we can to  reduce this crime, but we took money away from NGOs. From  the international donations, we took 40% that would go to NGOs (…) We also cut  the public funding. So these people  are missing the money. ” He continued: “So there might be happening, it might, I am not affirming, criminal activity by these NGO guys to get negative attention against me personally, and against the government of Brazil. This is the war we have to fight”. The president said that his ‘feeling’ is that the criminal forest fires intend to generate dramatic images to the international audience.. “It seems  the fire  was  set in strategic places, all over the  Amazon. How is that possible? Not even you would be able to be everywhere setting the forest on fire to film and broadcast to  the world. All indicates that these people went there to film and set the fire. This is my feeling”. On social media, minister Ricardo Salles said the increase in forest  fires was a result of dry weather,  heat  and wind.

On the 21st, Ibama published an announcement to buy a new monitoring system for Amazon. The Planet system, from the USA, is expected to be chosen. Since the beginning of the year, Salles and Bolsonaro clashed with Inpe’s system, claimed the data was “fake” and exonerated the institute’s president, Ricardo Galvão. Salles has always advocated for a private monitoring system

Protests against forest fires are organized throughout Brazil

Protest in defense of the Amazon in Manaus, Amazona State

Crédito: Alberto César Araújo/Amazônia Real/via Fotos Públicas

23 Aug 19
Minister  is booed at UN's Climate Week

Salles had cancelled the event, but backed down

Crédito: Max Haack/Secom/via Fotos Públicas

21 Aug 19

Minister is booed at UN’s Climate Week

Promoted by UNFCCC in  partnership with the Brazilian government,  the Climate Week for Latin America and the Caribbean started in Salvador, Bahia, without formal representation from the federal government. In May, the event was cancelled by the Minister of the Environment, but he backtracked his decision due to the offer of Salvador’s Mayor to host and fund the Conference. “Here we are,” said Mayor ACM at the opening ceremony of Climate Week, adding “we need to overcome ideological and partisan discussions because this is an issue that matters to us  all.” With 5,000 registered participants, the event aimed to discuss the regional  implementation of the Paris Agreement Goals, exchange experiences and promote business that contribute to reduce GHG emissions. The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, participated in a plenary on the third day of the Conference and met a hostile audience, getting booed from the crowd. “We were convinced by the mayor to do this event, what allows you ladies and gentlemen to be here manifesting”, he condescended.

Norway and Germany walk away from Fundo Amazônia

Após imbróglio em torno da mudança de governança proposta por Salles, Brasil perde doadores internacionais

Crédito: José Cruz/Agência Brasil

15 Aug 19

Norway and Germany walk away from Fundo Amazônia

After months of public attacks on the governance of Fundo Amazônia and due to the steep increase of Amazon deforestation in June and July, Germany’s Ministry of the Environment suspended the country’s contribution to Fundo  Amazônia. “The policies of the Brazilian government make us doubtful if they are still searching for a  consequent reduction of deforestation rates. Only when there is clarity, we will be able to continue cooperating with projects  in the region.”, the German government said on August 10th. 

A few days later, Nordic media reported that the  Norwegian government was also  withdrawing donations to Fundo Amazônia due to problems with the governance of the fund. According to the press, Norway was withholding the payment of R$ 132.6 million; the country is the main donor for Fundo Amazônia, accounting for 93,8% of total resources between 2009 and 2018.

In response to the Norway announcement, president Bolsonaro used irony. He said “Isn’t Norway that one that hunts whales there in the North Pole? That also explores oil there? They are no example to us. Take this money and go help Angela Merkel reforest Germany”.

Rural landowners organize ‘Day of the Fire” in the Amazon

Fires in Novo Progresso, Pará State, in August

Crédito: Lucas Landau/Greenpeace

14 Aug 19

Rural landowners organize ‘Day of the Fire” in the Amazon

On August 5th,  a local newspaper from the city  of Novo Progresso, in the southeast of Para state, revealed a coordinated movement led by regional farmers and land grabbers to promote the “Day of the Fire” on deforested areas on August 10th. According to the publication,  the farmers felt “backed by the words of the president” Bolsonaro and declared anonymously that the  coordinated fire was to “show to the president that they are willing to work”.  (Later investigations revealed  that at least 250 farmers coordinated via whatsapp).

 

The Public Prosecution office learned about the movement and, on August 8th, two days before the Day of the Fire, sent an urgent alert to Ibama asking for stronger presence of inspectors around protected areas in the region. However, Ibama responded to the prosecutors request only on August 12th, two days after the Day of the Fire. In its response, Ibama wrote that “due to several attacks suffered by IBAMA agents and the lack of support from the Para Military Police, our inspection operations are on hold because of concrete security risks to our field teams”. For many years, IBAMA maintained a base in Novo Progresso during the fire season, but in 2019 the operation was cancelled due to the absence of police and military forces. 

INPE monitored the region and detected an explosion of fires starting precisely on August 10th, the Day of the Fire. In Novo Progresso, hotspots increased by  300% in the days following the announcement. In Altamira, close to the BR163 highway, the hotspots increased by  743% after August 10th.

“Take a shit every other day”

Journalists had asked bolsonaro about sustainable development

Crédito: Jornal da Globo/Reprodução

9 Aug 19

“Take a shit every other day”

In a meeting with reporters when leaving the presidential palace in Brasilia, president Bolsonaro created  (another) social media frenzy with an unexpected and coarse answer to a question about the economy and the environment. A journalist asked: “President, is it possible to grow with environmental preservation? How?”, to what Bolsonaro replied: “Yes, of course. You only have to eat a little less. When you talk about environmental pollution, all you have to do is to only take a shit every other day. This will improve our lives a lot, all right?”.

Minister spreads fake news about "infanticide" among indigineous

Checking websites considered Damares Alves claims fake news

Crédito: Geraldo Magela/Agência Senado/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

6 Aug 19

Minister spreads fake news about “infanticide” among indigineous

Damares Alves, Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, said in a TV interview that she worries about the matter of ” indigenous infanticide” because “we estimate that there are around 1,500 killings of infants in (indigenous) communities per year in Brazil”. Fact checking websites considered the information ” fake news”. Experts said that there are no official ethnographic records of infant killings by  indigenous communities and that  the last available research is  from 2014, indicaditing 40 infanticides in a year. They also said it used to be a more common practise with different indigenous groups, but it’s less and less present in nowaday communities.

Chancellor denies climate change

Ernesto Araújo: “I don’t believe in climate change”

Crédito: Arthur Max/MRE/via CC BY-NC 2.0

3 Aug 19

Chancellor denies climate change

During a meeting with around 60 diplomats from the Secretary on Citizenship and National Sovereignty of Itamaraty, Chancellor Ernesto Araújo denied global warming and climate change. After hearing a presentation by a diplomat that works at the Environmental Secretary of Itamaraty, Chancellor Araujo said: “I don’t believe  in global warming. You see, I went to Rome in May and  there was a huge cold wave. This shows how the theories of global warming are wrong.  But this never appears in the  media”. His declaration caused a general embarrassment in the room, according to press reports.

Deforestation rises at Amazon's Xingu river basin

Satellite view of Xingu river basin in June

Crédito: Planet Labs/Handout

2 Aug 19

Deforestation rises at Amazon’s Xingu river basin

Deforestation on conservation units on the Xingu River Basin, on the Amazon states of Pará and Mato Grosso, rose by 44,7% in May and June 2019 in comparison to the same period in 2018. The number confirms the high trending on Amazon deforestation and the increased pressure on one of the key ecological corridors of the  biome. The data was published on a bi-monthly bulletin organized by Xingu+ Network, that gathers 24 local indigenous and environmental organizations. The bulletins condenses data from satellite imagery and radars that detect deforestation even during the rainy season.

INPE director is exonerated

Ricardo Galvão was constantly attacked by government members

Crédito: Ricardo Galvão/Arquivo Pessoal/via G1

1 Aug 19

INPE director is exonerated

In a press conference on August 1st, President Bolsonaro and Minister Salles announced a new system to monitor Amazon deforestation, affirming that INPE’s data released in June and July was incorrect. Minister Salles said that there should be more responsibility on releasing this kind of number, and that the government would open a bidding process to soon hire a daily monitoring system with  higher resolution. President Bolsonaro again attacked INPE and said that the numbers published in the previous months had been “beaten up” to damage Brazil’s reputation. He regretted the fact that INPE’s director had a mandate and said that someone that passes on doubtful information should indeed be made responsible. “If there is a break in trust, he will be summarily dismissed. A break of trust, in my view,  it is for capital punishment”.  

On the same day, INPE responded with a public note saying that the institute works according to the “principles of excellence, transparency and scientific honesty” and reaffirming its trust  on the quality of data generated  by DETER, the deforestation monitoring system used by INPE. “The alerts are produced using a widely published methodology which has been consistently applied since  2004. It  is widely known that it has contributed to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region when used in conjunction with inspection actions.”

The day after the press conference and Bolsonaro’s threats, the Minister of Science and Technology, who controls INPE, decided to exonerate  Ricardo Galvão, INPE’s director. Galvão had been serving as director since 2016 and  was supposed to remain in the post until 2020.

262 agrochemicals approved by Bolsonaro’s administration

Government is releasing agrochemicals at an unprecedented pace

Credit: Fernando Frazão/ Agência Brasil/via Fotos Públicas

31 Jul 19

262 agrochemicals approved by Bolsonaro’s administration

Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro’s administration accelerated the  release of 262 new pesticides and  agrochemicals, an unprecedented pace. Approximately ⅓ of the approved products contain  substances forbidden by the European Union, including Acephate and Atrazine which have been banned from the EU for more than 15 years.

The government also changed the classificatory system used for toxicity, now adopting one called GHS, which NGOs and experts say is weaker than current standards used in Brazil. The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) published the new regulatory framework for the assessment of the risk of pesticides. The measure changes the way packaging presents the risks of using products.

The institution says that the criterion follows an “international” standard but admits that very toxic products may have a “softer” classification. As there are now six categories, instead of four, it will be more difficult for a product to be classified as “extremely toxic”. The packages will feature fewer images of “skulls” and more informative texts. Entities criticize the measure, saying that it may bring more risk to rural workers with low literacy.

NGO denounces Bolsonaro’s unlawful attempts to attack indigenous people’s rights

Aerial view of the Indigenous Land Pirititi in Rondônia

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

31 Jul 19

NGO denounces Bolsonaro’s unlawful attempts to attack indigenous people’s rights

In a long article, ISA (Instituto Socioambiental) details  the  several attempts by the Bolsonaro Administration to transfer the demarcation of indigenous lands  from the  Minister  of Justice to  the Minister of  Agriculture. Since January 2nd, when the government issued MP 870 introducing the ministerial reform, this unconstitutional maneuver has been pushed by Bolsonaro’s cabinet. After having the FUNAI transfer proposal rejected by the Supreme Court and going through a number of congressional commissions, debates and votes between February and June, MP 870 received several amendments and was voted into Law 13844. President Bolsonaro sanctioned the Law but vetoed article 37, which specified that indigenous lands demarcation should remain under the Minister  of Justice. Bolsonaro then issued a new MP (866) altering articles from the law 13844 and reintroducing the change on indigenous demarcation from the Minister of Justice to the Minister of Agriculture, despite the fact that it had been previously rejected by both the Supreme Court and Congress. To introduce two MPs in the same legislative year on the same issue is illegal. Several political parties reacted and denounced the move to the Supreme Court; the president of the Senate also rejected the articles on MP866 that disrespected the legislative process.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs attends climate change deniers convention

Minister calls global warming a globalist farse

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil/via Fotos Públicas

30 Jul 19

Ministry of Foreign Affairs attends climate change deniers convention

For the first time in history, the Brazilian government  sent official diplomatic representatives to attend a  conference on climate change denial. Newspaper Folha de S. Paulo obtained a  copy  of a telegram from the Brazilian Embassy in Washington reporting their diplomatic participation at the 13th International Conference on Climate Change promoted by The Heartland Institute, a libertarian organization that gathers some of the biggest climate deniers.

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

Bolsonaro said that there is no evidence that the native Brazilian was murdered

Crédito: Handout/via G1

29 Jul 19

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

A Waiãpi Indigenous leader was killed on July 22th amid an invasion of his community lands by gold diggers, in the west of Amapa Amazon State. Emyra Waiãpi, 68 years old, was violently stabbed and assaulted at the Mariry village; his body had marks of beatings and was missing an eye. Around 1,300 waiãpis live in the demarcated land; they are the only indigenous group in the country with an official permit to do low scale gold mining in their territory. Two days after the killing, around 50 gold diggers attacked the Mariry village, in the first invasion of its kind in decades. An internal FUNAI document accessed by the press mentioned at least 15 heavily armed gunmen and stated “we can conclude the presence of invaders is real and the tension in the  region is high”. After a few days, Apina, the Waiãpi Villages Council,  published a note with more  details on the killing and the invasion of their territory. 

Reacting to the news of the Waiãpi assassination, president Bolsonaro questioned the veracity of the story and reaffirmed his support to opening indigenous reserves  and other protected areas to mining and gold digging. “They use the indigenous people as a manipulated mass, to demarcate more and more lands, to say they are mistreated. Now this case…there is no strong evidence that this indigenous was killed there. There are many possibilities, the Federal Police is there, we sent over who we could send over; I will try to solve the case and show the truth about all of this,” he said. He went on to say that international NGOs are against gold mining in these properties  because they want the indigenous to “remain locked in a zoo” and  because they challenge Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon.

“It’s a very rich land (the Yanomami reservation); if you  put it together with Raposa Serra do Sol (reservation),  there is an absurd amount of minerals there. I am looking for ‘first  world’  (partners) to  explore those areas adding value. That’s the reason to get close to the USA. That’s why I want someone that I trust at the Brazilian Embassy in the USA, ” he said.  At the time, Bolsonaro wanted to name his son, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, as ambassador in Washington to have “quick and immediate contact with the american president”.

Bolsonaro attacks INPE

President says INPE’s data are fake and damage Brazil’s image abroad

Crédito: Carolina Antunes/PR/via CC BY 2.0

21 Jul 19

Bolsonaro attacks INPE

After INPE published new data showing that Amazon deforestation rose 68% in the first  half of July 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018, President Bolsonaro started a series of personal attacks against INPE’s director, Ricardo Galvão. The president said that INPE’s numbers do not reflect the truth and damage Brazil’s  international reputation. “Of course I will speak to the director of INPE. It’s repeated headlines that only help to make Brazil’s name be seen as an underdog abroad,” he declared to journalists. President Bolsonaro also suggested that Director Galvão “could be at service for some NGO”. 

Two days later, national and international scientific associations poured in support to INPE’s work to monitor Amazon deforestation, saying the Institute’s methodology is robust and a renowned reference on satellite monitoring around the world. 

INPE’s director Ricardo Galvão responded to the criticism from the president in interviews to the press. He reported that INPE started  to suffer attacks back in January, but they were mostly coming from the Ministry of the Environment. “INPE only collects  data, that’s all we do, but there was some dissatisfaction about that, coming from the Ministry of Environment.” He said he didn’t expect this debate to reach  the President of the Republic, “but apparently it did and I am not sure who made this  happen (…) I might face consequences, get fired. But for the Institute there shouldn’t be. Firstly because the budget for the year is secured, and we are working on next year’s budget. And the situation is so clear, we received so much support, including from abroad, that it became impossible, in my opinion, for the government to somehow retaliate (…)”.

Salles visits and supports illegal loggers who set fire to an Ibama truck

Tanker truck that illegal loggers burned

Crédito: Handout/via Folha de S. Paulo

19 Jul 19

Salles visits and supports illegal loggers who set fire to an Ibama truck

The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, visited loggers in Espigão d’Oeste (RO) and made a speech “for the good people who work in this country”. The loggers in the Boa Vista do Pacarana region, which rely on illegal logging inside indigenous lands Zoró and Sete de Setembro, set fire to a tanker truck at the service of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Resources ( Ibama) two weeks earlier.

The burning of the tank truck happened two weeks after the Federal Police arrested nine loggers and seized two trucks with logs in the Indigenous Land (TI) Sete de Setembro, next to TI Zoró, where the criminal attack took place. An Ibama team had to be removed from the region after the truck was burned. During the operation, loggers destroyed bridges and cut trees on clandestine roads to block the operation.

Roulette at federal environmental council

Sortition happened at Ibama headquarters

Crédito: Handout/via O Globo

17 Jul 19

Roulette at federal environmental council

In late May, the government dismantled the National Environmental Council (CONAMA), reducing seats for NGOs and civil society representatives and excluding ICMBio from the composition of the council. Then on July 17th, the Ministry of Environment promoted a sortition (labelled as a ‘roulette’ by civil society) to choose NGO and other representatives to sit at the Council. Before May’s decree, representatives were chosen by participative elections and the council had a total of 96 seats; now there are only 23, a 77% reduction. Civil Society went from occupying 22 seats to only 4.

Bolsonaro wants to stop charging tourists preservation fees to visit national parks

13/07/2019

Crédito: Facebook

15 Jul 19

Bolsonaro wants to stop charging tourists preservation fees to visit national parks

Fernando de Noronha is a highly sensitive biodiversity area protected as a National Maritime Park located  in the Northeast of Brazil. There is a mandatory tax to visit the island and its beaches: Brazilian tourists pay R$ 106 and foreigners, R$ 212. President Bolsonaro used his official Facebook page to repost a video of a  tourist complaining about the visiting tax and said that the tax “explains why there is almost no tourism in Brazil”. He said charging so much is a “theft practised by the Federal Government – my government”. He then promised to review the existence of the tax and asks people to denounce similar practises in other places (meaning other protected areas). Environmentalists and researchers strongly criticised Bolsonaro’s declarations and proposals, claiming that the money from the tax funds the necessary structure to allow sustainable tourism in the Park, and that since the adoption of the tax system the number of visitors almost doubled.

Bolsonaro wants to review all protected nature areas in the country

The president once again mentioned developments in south Rio de Janeiro coast

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/Federal Government

11 Jul 19

Bolsonaro wants to review all protected nature areas in the country

During a breakfast with evangelical leaders in Congress, president Bolsonaro informed that he is discussing with state governors a review on all protected areas in the country. In a speech to attending senators and deputies, he once again mentioned his desire to turn the Tamoios Ecological Station, a federal reserve in Angra dos Reis region (on the coast of Rio de Janeiro) in the “Brazilian Cancun”, alluding to the famous Mexican beach resort. He then complained of the fact that he is not allowed to revoke the protection status of the area by decree, claiming that respective legislation on the issue is “rigged”. In 2012, Bolsonaro received a R$ 10,000 fine for illegal fishing inside the Tamoios Reserve; in December 2018 (right after the election), the IBAMA’s fine was cancelled and the agent who applied the infraction was exonerated. 

World’s most sustainable meat?

Salles and Tereza Cristina, Agriculture minister, in a barbecue at the german embassy

Crédito: Twitter

9 Jul 19

World’s most sustainable meat?

Minister Salles tweeted a picture of him and the Minister of Agriculture attending a barbecue at the German Embassy in Brasilia and called Brazilian meat “the most sustainable  in the world”.

Bolsonaro attacks Raoni

06/07/2019

Crédito: Twitter

6 Jul 19

Bolsonaro attacks Raoni

In a video posted on twitter,  president Bolsonaro says that “Brazil is an example to the  world  on environmental preservation. NGOs, artistas, ‘Raonis’ will no longer influence our external policies.”

Fundo Amazônia at risk of termination

Ricardo Salles in a meeting with Norway and Germany ambassadors

Crédito: Ministry of the Environment/Handout/via Agência Brasil

5 Jul 19

Fundo Amazônia at risk of termination

In a meeting with ambassadors from Germany and Norway, the  Minister of the Environment admitted for the first time that Fundo Amazônia (Amazon Fund) may end. The announcement came after a series of problems created by the Brazilian government since May:  starting two new audits looking for financial irregularities on 25% of the contracts, questioning the coordination of BNDES (National Development Bank), trying to change the criteria for grant making and, finally, in early June, dismantling two key committees for the operation of the Fund (as a consequence of a presidential decree that extinguished several social councils involving NGOs). By the end of June, a new presidential decree reinstated some of the councils but Fundo Amazônia’s committees were left out. Germany and Norway defended the re-creation of the committees, the role of BNDES and the current criteria for funding projects, and said the dialogue with the Brazilian government would continue.

Macron holds approval of EU-Mercosul treaty

França quer que Brasil reconheça Acordo de Paris

Crédito: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Thanachaiary/via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

2 Jul 19

Macron holds approval of EU-Mercosul treaty

After generally  accepting the terms for the EU-Mercosul trade agreement, the French government warned that it will still be a long process until the national Parliament ratifies the treaty. At the G20 summit In Osaka, president Macron said that their demands had been included  in the document – such as  explicit recognition from Brazil of the Paris Agreement, respect to environmental norms and regulations and safeguards to French farmers. However, speaking directly about Bolsonaro, French officials and deputies  made clear that the agreement will only come to life if the Brazilian government lives up to the commitments.

INPE shows that deforestation is rising

Bolsonaro’s policies led to growth of deforestation

Crédito: Domínio público/via CC 1.0

1 Jul 19

INPE shows that deforestation is rising

Updated information from INPE showed the Amazon lost 762,3km2 of forests in June, 60% more than in the same period in the previous year. It is the worst monthly record since 2016. In June 2018, 488 km2 were deforested. The numbers were published after strong international pressure at the recent G20 meeting in Japan (where the signing of the EU- Mercosul agreement was also focused  on environmental criteria) and heavy criticism by the Minister of the Environment  about the credibility and quality of INPE’s work. According to Observatorio do Clima, 99% of the deforestation in 2019 was illegal.

Bolsonaro confronts Merkel

Bolsonaro among Mercosur and EU leaders at G20 meeting in Japan

Alan Santos/PR/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

28 Jun 19

Bolsonaro confronts Merkel

Upon arriving at the G20 summit in Osaka, president Bolsonaro gave interviews to criticise the declarations made  the day before by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Germany has a lot to learn with Brazil about the environment,” he said, adding that the Brazilian Government was not going to accept warnings by any country. Visibly irritated, he criticized the press coverage on the issue and declared that Brazil “will no longer accept to be treated or warned by developed countries like some of our predecessors did”. 

The public debate with Merkel  happened on the eve of the signature of the trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, which happened at the G20 on the 28th.  The agreement for the trade deal took more than 20 years, marking a historic moment between the two blocks of countries that, together, represent around 25% of the global GDP and  house 780 million people. The text of the agreement, which has yet to be ratified by national governments, establishes social and environmental compensations to both parties as detailed in the “Sustainable Development ” chapter. The main item on this chapter is the permanence and defense of the Paris Agreement, as well as respect for labour laws and indigenous rights.

Merkel wants to talk to Bolsonaro about preservation

Chancellor said that the human rights situation in Brazil is “dramatic”

Crédito: Russian Presidential Executive Office/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 4.0

26 Jun 19

Merkel wants to talk to Bolsonaro about preservation

On the eve of the G20, German chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to the German Parliament and said that she hoped to have an opportunity to talk directly to president Bolsonaro about deforestation in Brazil at the summit in Osaka. Calling the human rights situation in Brazil “dramatic”, Merkel’s address was seen as a response to the NGO letter sent in the previous week questioning the Mercosul – European Union trade agreement and demanding stronger measures to curb deforestation and to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Political crisis around Amazon Fund deepens

Salles had a meeting with international donors in May

Crédito: Ana Cotta/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

26 Jun 19

Political crisis around Amazon Fund deepens

During a hearing of a parliamentary commission created to investigate possible financial irregularities at Fundo Amazônia, prompted by accusations from the Minister of the Environment in May, the president of BNDES said  that the Fund’s Guiding Committee (COFA) was at risk of  being  eliminated, compromising the governance of the fund. The Guiding Committee is a legally binding premise for countries such as Germany and Norway continued flow of resources into Fundo Amazônia. In May, Minister Salles met with German and Norwegian ambassadors but did not reach a consensus; he decided to postpone a new decree to regulate the operations of the Fund, and thus put COFA at risk  of closure. NGOs alerted that a new decree may change the criteria on governance, making it harder to engage civil society on the projects funded by Fundo Amazonia. The German  government disapproved of Minister Salles questioning of the Fund.

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

“They want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”, he said

Crédito: Carolina Antunes/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

19 Jun 19

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

In a meeting with journalists, president Bolsonaro declared that his administration will not demarcate any new indigenous land during his government. “It is our initiative, it is our prerogative…Who decides at the end of the line it’s  me, I am the one who signs the demarcation decree. I won’t sign off on any new indigenous reservation in Brazil”, he declared. He also criticised  the size of indigenous territories, citing as an  example that the Yanomami territory is twice as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro for “only 9,000 indigenous”. He claimed that this can not be normal and blamed it  on  “external pressure”, highlighting that all indigenous lands are demarcated on “rich lands”.   When questioned about the Amazon Synod planned by the Vatican for the second semester of the year, president Bolsonaro replied that he worries about what decisions will be made  because “they want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”.  He went further mentioning a plan called “the triple A, 136 million hectares, from the Andes – Amazon – Atlantic. A huge strip of land under international jurisdiction with the excuse of preserving the environment. What they want is to steal our Amazon and people don’t realize that. The international press says that I want to destroy the Amazon, but I want the Amazon for ourselves.”

340 international organizations sign open letter against Mercosul-EU treaty

Organizations expressed rejection to Bolsonaro’s policies

Marcos Corrêa/PR/via CC BY 2.0

19 Jun 19

340 international organizations sign open letter against Mercosul-EU treaty

More than 340 international organizations signed an open letter asking the European Union to immediately halt trade negotiations with Brazil. The request came amid talks to a free-trade agreement between the Mercosul and the European Union – which has been in the making for over two decades. Addressed to the presidents of the European Commission, Council and  Parliament, the document states  that “since the beginning of Bolsonaro’s government…we have been witnessing the increase of human rights violations, attacks against  minorities, indigenous populations, traditional communities and  LGBTQ people”. Other demands listed on the letter were guarantees that Brazilian products imported into Europe were not involved with deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations; stronger commitment from Brazil towards implementing the Paris Agreement; supporting Brazilian NGOs that defend democracy  and human rights,  monitoring human rights violations and providing investigation and support to people under threat. 

Minister: “Landowner must be compensated for preservation”

Salles once again sidelines environmental agenda

Crédito: Roque de Sá/Agência Senado/CC BY 2.0

14 Jun 19

Minister: “Landowner must be compensated for preservation”

In an interview with BBC Brazil’s service, the Minister of the Environment declared that his priority is to attract foreign investors to the Amazon to increase economic activity in the region, including payment for environmental services. He said that the road to reduce illegal deforestation starts by creating economic opportunities for people that live in forest areas. The interview happened as Minister Salles attended a preparatory meeting to the G20 in Osaka. “It’s a way to tell the world that we are preserving but we need to be compensated for it. Brazilian agriculture produces with respect and needs to be compensated for that. Private landowners that keep their legal reserve must be compensated for that and paid  extra in case he  goes beyond the minimum established by the Forest Code”.  He once  again reiterated that, despite  welcoming the  resources of Fundo Amazônia, it’s upon Brazil  to choose and define what are the adequate and necessary environmental policies and practises.

 On April 11th, Bolsonaro tried to change rules for participation in the Amazon Fund, excluding members of NGOs and civil society. On June 5th, embassies from Germany and Norway wrote letters to the government taking a stand against the measure and said that “the government alone will not be able to achieve deforestation reduction”. Both parties have since been in negotiation.

Bolsonaro wants to reduce  protected nature areas

Interference violates Brazil’s Federal Constitution

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/via CC BY 2.0

12 Jun 19

Bolsonaro wants to reduce protected nature areas

An article by newspaper O Estado de São Paulo revealed that the Bolsonaro administration planned to reduce more than 60 conservation units/ protected areas to solve conflicts surrounding federal roads, railways, ports and airports within their limits. According to an official document accessed by the journalist, the aim of the initially planned presidential decree was to eliminate interference and give juridic security to the enterprises – either public or private. However, plans were delayed because, according to the Constitution, to change the status of protected areas the federal government needs to approve a law in Congress. Since taking office, Bolsonaro’s government has made clear his intentions to review all 334 federal conservation units in the country.

Cerrado burns

Matopiba region, that encompasses Maranhã, Tocatins, Piauí and Bahia States, is considered a “showcase” for Brazil’s Agribusiness

Crédito: Ibama/Divulgação/via O Eco

11 Jun 19

Cerrado burns

The Cerrado has lost  almost half of its native vegetation  and  continues to be threatened by monoculture and cattle ranching  expansion with the support of the government. According to INPE, the biome lost 7.697 km2 of vegetation in the last year. The destruction of the Cerrado happens at a more intense pace  than Amazon’s deforestation. In  the past 5 years, Cerrado lost 56.300 km2 of native coverage, while the Amazon (twice the size) lost 35.800km2. The main deforestation hotspot in the Cerrado is the Matopiba region, seen as the last agricultural haven in Brazil. According to a Greenpeace report,  486.000 km2 of native Cerrado had  been turned into pasture for cattle until 2017.