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Public access to electricity excludes indigenous, quilombolas and settlers in the Amazon, says NGO

Ranking of the most affected states according to IEMA

Credit: IEMA/Reproduction

25 Feb 21

Public access to electricity excludes indigenous, quilombolas and settlers in the Amazon, says NGO

A study conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environment (IEMA) estimates that 212,791 residents of rural settlements, 78,388 indigenous people, 59,106 inhabitants of conservation units (UCs) and 2,555 quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] living in the states of the Legal Amazon have no access to public electricity. According to georeferenced methodology developed especially for the survey, in total there are 990,103 excluded, which corresponds to 3.5% of the local population.

The survey, conducted between 2019 and 2020, points out Acre as the state with the highest percentage of people outside public electricity coverage, with 10%, followed by Amazonas (3.9%) and Amapá (3.1%). By total number of people, Pará is at the top of the list, with 409,593 in the dark.

“Access to electricity is fundamental for several reasons: it helps conserve vaccines and medicines; it makes it possible to study at night; it allows for the conservation of cooled food and water pumping; it is fundamental to have access to the internet and telephone; and, in addition, it can provide tools to preserve the local culture” says the IEMA’s technical note.

600 wild animals die under government responsibility due to neglect

Rescued animals suffer due to lack of proper feeding and care

Credit: Ibama/Reproduction

25 Feb 21

600 wild animals die under government responsibility due to neglect

Under the federal environment agency Ibama’s care, about 600 animals died for lack of tending in the last four months in the Center for the Treatment of Wild Animals of Rio de Janeiro (CETAS-RJ), installed in the Mário Xavier National Forest (FLONA), in Seropédica. The shelter – considered to be one of the largest in the country, with more than 1200 animals – receives birds, reptiles, and mammals recovered from illegal trade for rehabilitation.

Currently, the CETAS-RJ has only four employees. In November, the contract with the outsourced company RCA, which took care of the space, was suspended after the company warned in advance, in July, that it would not be interested in extending the agreement, G1 reported. In January, a new contract, made on an emergency basis, was also broken. The responsibility for hiring the team of keepers lies with Ibama’s superintendent in Rio, Navy Reserve Admiral Alexandre Dias da Cruz, in office since March 2019.

After the complaint, Ibama announced that the center will have 11 new animal handlers starting March 2, in addition to opening five internal processes to investigate the deaths of animals, but in a statement, said that “the contract for food and security of the site is still in full operation,” according to an article in O Estado de São Paulo. The Federal Police has already started an investigation on the case, considered an environmental crime.

The situation of abandonment of CETAS-RJ is a tragedy foretold and another episode of the dismantling of federal environmental defense agencies promoted by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, marked by the dismissal of qualified technicians and the military trimming of key positions. In July 2019, months after assuming the superintendence of Ibama in Rio, Dias da Cruz ordered the replacement, without justification, of four of the ten outsourced keepers who worked at the site, reporter Bela Megale found out at the time. The decision mobilized the Rio Ibama Servers Association to send a letter to the administration. “Considering the years invested in training to prepare a wild animal handler, and that this type of professional is not easily available in the market, it is certain that a replacement in the team will cause enormous disturbances to the routine work performed by the CETAS/RJ. These disturbances will be translated into an increase in the number of deaths of the animals , which we consider unacceptable,” said the document to which the newspaper had access.

With agrarian reform paralised, “Beef Caucus” aims at weakening environmental and land regulation

Congressman connected to landowners see favorable winds in the Parliament for their proposals

Credit: Ednilson Aguiar

23 Feb 21

With agrarian reform paralised, “Beef Caucus” aims at weakening environmental and land regulation

While Brazil’s land reform faces a harsh paralysis under Bolsonaro administration, rural parliamentarians seek, for 2021, to prioritize projects that would further deepen land concentration in the country, with bills that would weaken environmental licensing and make legal illegally occupied lands. The website UOL heard representatives of the Parliamentary Front for Agriculture and Livestock (FPA), known as the “beef caucus” in Congress, and points out that the group believes in “smooth sailing” for both projects because of the support of the new president of Congress, Arthur Lira, and Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, both close to Bolsonaro.

In 2020, the press announced that Incra’s budget, the government agency responsible for agrarian reform, suffered a 90% reduction. Now, Incra has informed the Supreme Court that the Bolsonaro government “hasn’t made a single expropriation decree for agrarian reform and made the smallest acquisition of land for this purpose since 1995,” according to a Folha de S. Paulo article. Because of that, Bolsonaro administration has settled fewer families of rural workers, indigenous people and quilombolas than Michel Temer, Dilma, Lula and Fernando Henrique administrations.

Acre faces rise in COVID-19 infections worsened by historical floods

Excess of rainfall flooded local rivers

Credit: SECOM

22 Feb 21

Acre faces rise in COVID-19 infections worsened by historical floods

With crowded ICUs and facing the increase of Covid-19 cases in the Amazon region, the state of Acre is experiencing a humanitarian crisis intensified by the floods caused by excessive rainfall in the state’s basin region in recent days. The state has thousands of people displaced by the overflowing of at least five rivers and suffers to cope with the increase of Covid-19 cases, the fight against dengue fever and a migration crisis, with Venezuelans seeking refuge.

“This is an example of how non-climatic situations are worsened by extreme weather events,” said researcher José Marengo to the Climate Observatory.

Supreme Court vetoes bill that authorizes gold digging without environmental impact studies

State senate had approved the bill with urgency

Credit: Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado/via CC BY 2.0

20 Feb 21

Supreme Court vetoes bill that authorizes gold digging without environmental impact studies

Justice Alexandre de Moraes of the Supreme Court (STF) ordered the suspension of Law 1.453/2021, which authorizes mining activity in the state of Roraima with the use of mercury and without an environmental impact assessment. After being approved by the state senate in January, the governor ratified the bill shortly after, on February 8.

Moraes’ decision decided after an lawsuit filed by the party Rede Sustentabilidade (ADI 6672), which denounces the unconstitutionality of the measure, as it contradicts the federal law, which allows simplified licensing only for low-impact activities, and violates the fundamental right to an ecologically balanced environment (Article 225). The party also mentioned the manifestation of dozens of indigenous organizations against the project, including the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CRI), which has protested against the measure since its presentation.

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

Brazil doesn’t have so far a specific plan for the protection of Afro-brazilian traditional communities

Credit: Walisson Braga/via CPT

18 Feb 21

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

In a suit by the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola [Afro-Brazilian traditional communities] (Conaq) in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Justice Edson Fachin diverged from the rapporteur of the case, Justice Marco Aurélio, and voted for the suspension of eviction actions against traditional communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Filed in September 2020, jointly with the PSB, PSOL, PCdoB, REDE and PT parties, the Argument of Noncompliance with a Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 742/2020 requires the Union to create and implement a national plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in quilombola communities. The requested deadline was 30 days, however nothing has been done until now. “After almost a year of the pandemic (…), the State still has not prepared unified measures to prevent families, especially from vulnerable groups such as quilombolas, from being expelled from their territories during the serious epidemiological crisis that the country is going through,” says a note from the Pastoral Land Commission on Fachin’s decision.

Federal Court closes investigation against voluntary fire fighters in Alter do Chão

Activists were accused of starting fires in the region in 2019

Credit: Brigada de Incêndio de Alter do Chão/Reproduction

18 Feb 21

Federal Court closes investigation against voluntary fire fighters in Alter do Chão

At the request of the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF), a Federal Court closed the investigation about the causes of the fires that occurred in September 2019 in the district of Alter do Chão, in Santarém (Pará state), which led to the unjustified arrest of four voluntary firefighters who worked in the region. According to a note from the MPF, there was an “impossibility of determining the authorship of the crime”. “We found that the fire originated in three different locations and reached an area of 1.2 thousand hectares, but we discovered no basic evidence that could lead to the authorship of the crime,” the text says.

In November 2019, following an investigation that pointed to NGOs as responsible for starting the fire, the Pará Civil Police carried out the preventive arrest of the four members of the Alter do Chão Fire Brigade, in addition to carrying out a search warrant at the headquarters of the NGO Saúde & Alegria Project, an organization recognized worldwide for its work in the Amazon. Back then, the civil society received with astonishment and indignation the news and mobilized to prove the activists’ innocence. 

Brazilian ministers meet Biden representative to discuss deforestation

John Kerry, Biden’s representative for the climate agenda

Credit: Center for American Progress/via CC BY-ND 2.0

17 Feb 21

Brazilian ministers meet Biden representative to discuss deforestation

The ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araújo, and of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, participated in a videoconference with John Kerry, special representative on climate for the new president of the United States, Joe Biden.

In a brief note about the meeting, the Brazilian government said that “possibilities for cooperation and dialogue between Brazil and the U.S. in the area of climate change and combating deforestation were examined”.

Since the election of Biden, who criticized the devastation of the Brazilian Amazon and indicated the environmental agenda as a priority for his government, there has been speculation about the relationship between Brazil and the United States, after the Bolsonaro’s bet on a unilateral partnership with former President Donald Trump and his negationist and anti-human rights agenda. The departure of both ministers, both of whom are outspoken climate deniers, has already been mentioned in the press as a necessary measure for a possible reconciliation between the countries to happen.

France's largest bank will stop financing companies linked to deforestation in the Amazon

Photo of the Indigenous Land Cachoeira Seca, in Pará state, deforested by land grabbers and loggers

Credit: Daniel Beltrá/Greenpeace

15 Feb 21

France’s largest bank will stop financing companies linked to deforestation in the Amazon

BNP Paribas, the largest French bank, has announced that it will no longer finance companies that buy cattle or soy produced in the Amazon on land that was deforested after 2008. The promise also applies to grain or beef from the Brazilian Cerrado biome. The institution informed that it will only finance companies that commit to zero deforestation by 2025, according to the Reuters news agency.

The BNP’s stance is in line with the French government’s tightening siege on Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy, as exemplified by president Emmanuel Macron’s recent threat to discontinue the importation of Brazilian soybeans.

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

The Tembé Theneteraha had already request protection against death threats

Credit: Reproduction/via Cimi

15 Feb 21

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

Isak Tembé, 24 years old, was murdered in the Alto Rio Guama Indigenous Land in Paragominas, northeast Pará state. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), Tembé was killed in an “unjustified attack by military police officers”.

The organization points out that the Tembé Theneteraha are constant targets of persecution and threats by environmental criminals. In 2019, Federal Public Prosecution requested the Federal Police and the Army command in Belém (PA) an urgent operation to prevent attacks by loggers against the indigenous people.

In a note, the Tembé Theneteraha people describe the police as an “armed militia for the farmers,” repudiate the version that the young man would have attacked the agents, who would then have reacted, and requested an investigation at the scene. “We have been fighting against this violence for decades, and we will not stop until they stop illegally occupying our land. We are not afraid. The Federal Constitution protects our rights and the Brazilian State needs to enforce what the higher law mandates. We appeal to the authorities of Brazil and the world: don’t leave us alone!”.

Petrobras takes over five oil blocks in the Amazon River bought by Total in 2013

Environmentalists fear that this will increase the pressure for licensing

Credit: @ANDREBANIWA/Twitter

10 Feb 21

Petrobras takes over five oil blocks in the Amazon River bought by Total in 2013

Previously bought by French company Total, Petrobras is now taking over five oil blocks located in the Amazon River gorge, with authorization from the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), as stated in the Union Official Gazette.

The company decided to take over due to the difficulty with the environmental licensing process of the blocks, located “in one of the most sensitive areas of the region and with extreme environmental wealth,” says an article in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. Total bought the blocks in an auction held in 2013 and never received the license for exploration. In 2018, for the fourth time, environmental agency Ibama denied the company’s request to drill in the basin. With Petrobras taking over, environmentalists fear that there will be greater pressure for the release of the blocks. 

Film about the Yanomami people will premiere at Berlin Film Festival

The movie will premiere in the second semester

Credit: “The Last Forest”/Reproduction

10 Feb 21

Film about the Yanomami people will premiere at Berlin Film Festival

“The Last Forest”, a film by Luiz Bolognesi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, writer, shaman and Yanomami leader, was selected for the 2021 Berlin Film Festival, one of the most important festivals in the world. The feature film portrays the struggle of isolated Yanomami indigenous against the mining invaders and its premiere in Brazil is scheduled for the second semester of 2021.

Bolognesi was awarded an honorable mention by the festival in 2018 for his documentary “Ex-Shaman”, about the life of the Paiter Suruí, inhabitants of the Sete de Setembro Indigenous Land in Rondônia state. Internationally recognized for his work in defense of indigenous rights, Kopenawa will make his debut at the Berlinale. 

Survey shows that the Environment Minister used the pandemic to loosen environmental laws

Changes in legislation weaken environmental protection, says UFRJ

Credit: Bruno Kelly/Greenpeace

10 Feb 21

Survey shows that the Environment Minister used the pandemic to loosen environmental laws

In a ministerial meeting in April 2020, Ricardo Salles, said that the government should take advantage of the public eye being drawn to the pandemic to, in a rough translation, “slip by the cattle herd”, that is, to further weaken the legislation on environmental issues. Almost a year later, a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) points out that he succeeded: of the 57 infra-legal acts – which do not depend on congressional approval – responsible for weakening environmental preservation rules signed by the Bolsonaro government starting in 2019, 49% were enacted after the pandemic began, peaking in September 2020. Among the measures is the weakening of administrative rules, the resolution that releases mining activity in areas still awaiting final authorization, and the reclassification of pesticides to less harmful categories. As a source, spreadsheets from Ibama, ICMBio, and Inpe were used, in addition to publications in the Union Official Gazette.

Between March and August 2020, environmental fines suffered a 72% reduction, even with the increase in deforestation and fires recorded in the period. The drop is attributed by researchers to budget cuts in the environmental agencies Ibama and ICMBio, currently under threat of merger. “The reduction in environmental fines, combined with amnesty for illegally deforested areas in the Atlantic Forest, may make landowners feel empowered to continue deforesting,” says the survey, according to an article in the Metrópole newspaper.

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Sete Quedas waterfall waters polluted with mining waste

Credit: @karibuxi/ Reproduction/Twitter

9 Feb 21

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Indigenous peoples of the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land continue to struggle in defense of their territory, which suffers from the advance of illegal gold digging. As reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, pictures taken in January show the critical state of the Sete Quedas and Urucá waterfalls, near the municipality of Uiramutã, polluted by mining waste.

The land is close to the Army’s 6th Border Platoon and, despite Operation Verde Brasil 2, which assigned the military to combat environmental crimes, the violators remain unpunished. “We have already denounced them, we called for an assembly, we made documents, maps, we delivered photographs, but so far nothing”, declared to the newspaper the vice-coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), Edinho Batista de Souza.

As an aggravating factor, the leadership cites President Jair Bolsonaro’s declared incentive to mining on indigenous lands – as in the case of Bill 191/2020, which is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives – and Bill 201/2020, of the Roraima government, which authorizes mining activity in the state “without prior study”.

Supermarket chain will sponsor conservation unit in Rondônia state

Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles, Jair Bolsonaro and Carrefour CEO in Brasil, Noël Prioux

Credit: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

9 Feb 21

Supermarket chain will sponsor conservation unit in Rondônia state

The supermarket chain Carrefour will be the first company to join the “Adopt a Park” program, by sponsoring, with an investment of R$ 4 million reais per year, the protection of the Extractive Reserve (Resex) of Cuniã Lake, a federal conservation unit (UC) located in Rondônia state. According to the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the agreement provides for support in protection and inspection actions in the area, which covers 75,876.67 hectares, in exchange for publicity actions promoted by the company about the project.

Launched by a federal decree on February 9, the program will be coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, through the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). In its first phase, only the 132 federal UCs located in the Amazon were included.

In a statement, Carrefour said it “positively evaluates the Federal Government’s program”. The publicity offered in return comes in handy for the company, which went through an image crisis at the end of 2020, being targeted by dozens of protests calling for justice for the death of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, who was beaten to death by supermarket security guards in a store in Porto Alegre (RS).

Ibama caves in to pressure from Belo Monte dam and goes back to liberating minimum flow to the Xingu River

Order to increase the flow tried to mitigate socio-environmental impacts

Credit: Federal Government/PAC/via O eco

8 Feb 21

Ibama caves in to pressure from Belo Monte dam and goes back to liberating minimum flow to the Xingu River

After a power struggle between shareholders of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and environmental agency Ibama, Norte Energia, the concessionaire responsible for the project, may once again release a lower volume of water from its reservoir for the stretch known as Volta Grande do Xingu, in Pará state, according to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Under pressure, the regulating agency did not maintain the decision, in force until February 10th, which made the hydroelectric plant provisionally increase the amount of water destined to the Xingu River, aiming at mitigating the environmental impacts on the riverside populations caused by the dam.

The difference between the new flow agreed upon and the one previously demanded by Ibama is big: in March, the plant will make 4,000 cubic meters per second; the authorities were asking for 14,200 m³/s. The reason is the already notorious information that “there are no conditions to maintain life in the river”, as the article says, with the adoption of the measures defended by Norte Energia.

Norte Energia signed an Environmental Commitment Term, in which the company commits to implement 15 new measures of environmental compensation, inspection and support to the local population – an investment of R$ 157.5 million reais over three years. The text also requires the concessionaire to present, until December 31, 2021, complementary studies on the river’s flow and environmental quality.

After the news, the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF) of Pará requested Ibama to provide technical data to support what it qualified as a “sudden change” in the flow of the plant. According to a note from the MPF, the agency wants answers about “the technical choice for adopting mitigation measures instead of adopting measures to prevent impacts, such as those already adopted by Ibama, with the definition of higher average flows”.

Fired by Bolsonaro, former space research director receives award for scientific responsibility

After his exoneration, Ricardo Galvão was nominated as one of the top 10 scientists in the world

Credit: SEESP/via

8 Feb 21

Fired by Bolsonaro, former space research director receives award for scientific responsibility

Ricardo Galvão, former director of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), exonerated by Bolsonaro in 2019 after reacting to the president’s criticism of the institute’s data indicating increased deforestation, won the international award for Responsibility and Scientific Freedom 2021 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The award “honors scientists who have demonstrated scientific freedom and responsibility in particularly challenging circumstances, sometimes at risk to their professional or physical safety,” says the AAAS website. According to Jessica Wyndham, director of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, the physicist “acted to protect the well-being of the Brazilian people and the immense natural wonder that is the Amazon rainforest, a world heritage site.”

After promise to stop funding fossil fuel, UK plans to explore oil and gas production in Brazil

Environmentalists say that country reliability might be affected

Credit: Number 10/via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

6 Feb 21

After promise to stop funding fossil fuel, UK plans to explore oil and gas production in Brazil

Host of COP 26, that will happen in November, the United Kingdom announced last year that investment in overseas oil, gas or coal export or production projects would be brought into a halt until the conference date. However, a survey by the SourceMaterial group revealed that the country, through the state-owned credit agency UK Export Finance, is considering supporting 17 fossil fuel projects that could be completed by July, including in Brazil, The Telegraph reported. “In recent years, the UK government has already used billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to fund fossil fuel projects around the world. It would make no sense to rush to hand out a few more million just before these subsidies are banned and before a major climate summit,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.

According to the article, one of the Brazilian developments that may receive support from the UK will produce over 2 million tons of CO2 per year in its construction and operation alone. The information was also echoed in the daily bulletin of the ClimaInfo portal, dedicated to climate change.

 

Research shows that most Brazilians acknowledges the global warming and is concerned about the environment

Protest in defense of the Amazon in Rio de Janeiro in 2019

Credit: Renan Olivetti/Greenpeace

4 Feb 21

Research shows that most Brazilians acknowledges the global warming and is concerned about the environment

A survey carried out by Ibope, one of the most important research institutes in the country, indicates that most Brazilians recognize the existence of global warming (92%) and attribute it to human action (77%). 72% believe that the phenomenon can harm them and their families, and 88% affirm that it will cause great damage to future generations. The “Climate change in the perception of Brazilians” survey, commissioned by the Institute for Technology and Society (ITS) and Yale University, interviewed 2,600 people over the age of 18 in the five regions of Brazil, between September 24 and October 16, 2020.

The study also reveals that more than half of those interviewed are very concerned about the environment (61%), especially women (68%) and people who identify themselves as being politically in the left (70%). When asked about what would be more important, protecting the environment or promoting economic development, 77% of respondents answered the first option, even if it implies lower growth and job creation. Regarding the fires, which reached record levels in 2020, 77% of the people interviewed attribute the fires in the Amazon to human action, with loggers being pointed out as the main culprits (76%), followed by farmers (49&), cattle ranchers (48%) and gold miners (41%). Indigenous people, pointed out a few days before the beginning of the survey by President Jair Bolsonaro as being responsible for the forest fires, were mentioned by 8% of those interviewed, and NGOs, the target of constant attacks by the government, by 6%.

Biden receives document asking for the suspension of commercial exchange between Brazil and USA

Biden received the document through an aide

Credit: via Gage Skidmore/ via CC BY-SA 2.0

3 Feb 21

Biden receives document asking for the suspension of commercial exchange between Brazil and USA

Scholars from universities in the US, international NGOs such as Greenpeace, and Brazilian organizations such as the Indigenous Peoples Network of Brazil (Apib) delivered a 31-page dossier calling for a thorough review of the US relationship with Brazil. The document points out Donald Trump’s role in “legitimizing Bolsonaro’s authoritarian tendencies” and asks for the restriction of the purchase of lumber, meat and soy, as a response to the high deforestation rates in the country.

The document also mentions minorities, indigenous peoples, democracy, police violence and calls for a revision of the text that allows the commercial exploitation of the Alcântara Space Base in Maranhão, which threatens quilombola [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] territories.

“Anyone in Brazil or elsewhere who thinks they can promote an ambitious relationship with the U.S. while ignoring important issues like climate change, democracy and human rights, clearly has not heard Joe Biden during the campaign,” said Juan Gonzalez, Biden’s advisor who brought the dossier to the core of the government, according to BBC News Brazil.

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

House of Representatives new president, Arthur Lira, already received R$ 200,000 reais from an air company linked to illegal gold diggers

Credit: Facebook/Arthur Lira/Reproduction

3 Feb 21

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

After gaining political control of the Federal Senate and House of Representatives, with the election of his allies, Rodrigo Pacheco and Arthur Lira, president Jair Bolsonaro presented a list of his most pressing bills. Among them, Bill 191/2020, that authorizes mining inside indigenous territories, Bill 3729, that weakens the regulations for environmental licensing and Bill 2633/2020, known as “Land Grabbing Bill of Law”.

The bill that makes legal mining in indigenous territories removes the power of veto from the communities and authorizes oil and gas prospecting, building hydroelectric power plants and the cultivation of transgenic seeds and cattle herding. The project was repudiated and denounced by the largest indigenous organizations in the country.

Márcio Astrini, executive-secretary of the Climate Observatory, said that Lira rise to power in the House of Representatives will bring “an historical wave of attempts at approving environmental setbacks. In this scenario, hell is the limit”. Lira has received donations from an air flight company linked to illegal gold mining.

A study reveals that, if the Bill is approved and made effective, it could cause the devastation of 160,000 square kilometers in the Amazon rainforest.

NGO launches multimedia feature about violence against landless workers, indigenous people and environmentalists

Survey by Repórter Brasil gathers data from the first year of Bolsonaro’s administration

Credit: Daniel Beltrá/Greenpeace

30 Jan 21

NGO launches multimedia feature about violence against landless workers, indigenous people and environmentalists

The multimedia feature “Cova Medida” [Measured Graves], developed by Repórter Brasil, after a report by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), provides an overview of the violence against landless workers, indigenous and environmental activists in 2019. The survey portrays the 31 murders recorded in the first year of the Bolsonaro adminstration, marked by the struggle for agrarian justice and the impunity of their authors.

Territorial dispute (39%) and defense of indigenous territories (29%) are among the primary motivations for the crimes. There’s also reports of casulaties related to the defense of the environment, labor issues, denunciation of illegalities and even hate crimes. The victims are mostly men (93%), inhabitants of the Legal Amazon (87%), linked to the landless movements (35%) or indigenous people who died defending their land (25%).

After one year of deaths, 61% of investigations are in a halt, and there are no convictions, says the NGO.

According to CPT, there was a 23% increase in the number of conflicts in the field between 2018 and 2019. According to Repórter Brasil, the former Environment Minister, Marina Silva, points out the conniving posture of the president. “The assassins felt that they have a license to kill. They listen to the government’s speech against indigenous people, environmentalists, extractivists and feel right at home, while the victims are helpless and unprotected,” she said.

The increase coincides with the paralysis of the demarcation of indigenous lands – a “promise” made during the elections and which has been fulfilled – and the agrarian reform in Brazil by Jair Bolsonaro. For 2021, the budget of INCRA – the agency responsible for agrarian reform policy – has been reduced by 90%.

Covid-19: Indigenous and quilombola communities face government neglect regarding vaccination plan

These populations are victim of institutional racism and disinformation tactics

Credit: Ana Mendes/Cimi

29 Jan 21

Covid-19: Indigenous and quilombola communities face government neglect regarding vaccination plan

Victims of federal government neglect, indigenous and quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] organizations have pointed out serious flaws in the vaccination plan against Covid-19 executed by the Ministry of Health (MS), which began on January 20.

Regarding the indigenous population, the ministry announced that only “indigenous who live in villages” are among the priority groups contemplated in the first phase of vaccination. The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), said that the criteria shows institutional racism by defining as indigenous only “people who live in villages of homologated indigenous lands,” ignoring people from urban contexts, which add up to almost half – 46%, according to data from the 2010 Census – of the country’s indigenous population. “The term used by the Minister of Health, ‘indigenous villagers’, takes us back to the period of the military dictatorship that represents discrimination, where the government intends to define arbitrarily who is and who is not indigenous […]. The National Vaccination Plan, therefore, needs to recognize the extension of this priority group and reach it in its entirety,” declared Roque Paloschi, president of Cimi, in a note released by the organization. In addition to racist typification, the indigenous population also fights against misinformation and fake news regarding immunization, stimulated by the firing of messages via Whatsapp and negationist discourses by evangelical pastors.

The quilombolas, on the other hand, which had previously been included in the groups contemplated in the first phase, do not have a stipulated date to receive the vaccines. Under the pretense that there are not enough doses to vaccinate the entire contingent of priority publics, the Ministry of Health declared that “there was a need for a replanning within the priorities initially listed” leaving the quilombola population unassisted. The coordinator of the Chamber of Indigenous Populations and Traditional Communities of the Federal Public Prosecuttion (6CCR/MPF), Eliana Torelly, sent a letter to the Ministry of Health requesting a position on the change, in which she points out that the decision was reflected in the state plans, leaving quilombolas at the mercy of conflicting and inaccurate information.

Nine Yanomami children die with Covid-19 compatible symptoms

An Yanomami receives medical attention on July 2020

Credit: Agência Saúde via Amazônia real

29 Jan 21

Nine Yanomami children die with Covid-19 compatible symptoms

In January alone, nine Yanomami children in Roraima died of high fever and respiratory difficulty, symptoms compatible with Covid-19. On December 26, the Yanomami and Ye’Kuana District Council (Condisi-YY) had requested medical teams for the communities. Health posts in the region have been closed for two months.

“So far we have no response. The Waphuta and Kataroa communities are without health care. I received information from the leaders of these communities and they said that they still have many sick people. A group of 25 children are having the same symptoms and are in a grave condition. This is very serious,” Condisi-YY president Junior Hekuari Yanomami told the website Amazônia Real.

A survey by the Pro-YY Network indicates that the Yanomami Indigenous Territory had so far had 1641 confirmed cases and 16 deaths, in addition to 14 suspects. The first indigenous victim of Covid-19 in Brazil was a fifteen-year-old Yanomami teenager.

Covid-19: Amazon states health crisis deepens with new virus strain

Brazil’s northern region has close to one million people infected by Covid since the begining of the pandemic

Credit: Juliana Pesqueira/Amazônia Real

28 Jan 21

Covid-19: Amazon states health crisis deepens with new virus strain

Amid the significant increase of Covid-19 cases in Amazonas state, attributed in part to the new strain of the coronavirus, other states in the northern region are on alert. According to the newspaper Metrópole, the states of Rondônia, Tocantins and Roraima also no longer have available ICU beds for patients infected with the virus, while Acre, Pará and Amapá register a worrisome occupation rate, above 70%. Together, the region’s states accounted for 998,590 infected people and 21,373 dead from the disease until January 27.

Manaus is still the most affected city, after the outbreak of the lack of oxygen crisis in the city, on the 14th. Until January 26, health authorities transferred 302 patients from Manaus to other states. According to the Minister of Health, General Eduardo Pazuello, they expect the number to reach 1,500.

Orowao Pandran, Canoé youth leader, dies from Covid-19 related complications

Indigenous organizations blame systemic state neglect

Credit: Apib

28 Jan 21

Orowao Pandran, Canoé youth leader, dies from Covid-19 related complications

Orowao Pandran Canoé Oro Mon, of the Canoé indigenous people, died, after being infected with COVID-19 and suffering from kidney complications, in the city of Porto Velho, capital of Rondônia. Graduated in Environmental Management and studying for a Master’s degree in Literature, the young indigenous was considered a leader. Indigenous organizations, such as the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), affirmed that Orowao’s death happened “due to negligence of the Brazilian State”.

“Pandran was a great example for the indigenous movement, especially for the youth. In his academic career, he has always been active in the student’s movement, supporting the organization and struggle of students, especially indigenous people,” said the entity in an official statement.

Pau d’Arco massacre: four years after police killed 10 rural workers, victims lawyer is arrested and key witness is murdered

The Justice system has yet to punish the murderers

Credit: CPT/Reproduction/via Revista Forum

28 Jan 21

Pau d’Arco massacre: four years after police killed 10 rural workers, victims lawyer is arrested and key witness is murdered

José Vargas Sobrinho Junior, human rights defender and lawyer for the survivors of the Pau d’Arco Massacre – a civil and military police action that killed ten landless workers in 2017 in Pará state – was arrested on the first day of the year, in the city of Redenção, points out a report by the NGO Repórter Brasil. The imprisonment happened because of an “extremely fragile” accusation, his lawyer says, and it was related to the disappearance of Cícero José Rodrigues de Souza, a politician. Vargas was released on January 25, but remains under house arrest.

The day after Vargas’ release, Fernando Santos do Araújo, considered a key-witness to the massacre, was executed in his home in the Jane Júlia settlement in the municipality of Pau D’arco. In a public letter, the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), together with several organizations, points that his killing is an attack on all who fight for the right to land. “Fernando died. The shot that victimized him also made other victims. It hit all of us who fight for the right to land in Pará, the Amazon and in the country. His death forces us to ask: Who killed Fernando? Who had Fernando killed?”, says the text.

The civil and military police officers accused of the murder of the ten rural workers of the Pau d’Arco Massacre are still at free and on the streets while they wait for the trial.

Former Environment Ministers ask european countries aid to mitigate health collapse on the Amazon

Former ministers demand protection of “forest guardians”

Credit: Marcio James/Amazônia Real

27 Jan 21

Former Environment Ministers ask european countries aid to mitigate health collapse on the Amazon

Nine former Environment Ministers sent, on 26th, a letter to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and to the prime ministers of Germany, Angela Merkel, and Norway, Erna Solber, asking for “solidarity and collaboration” for the “solution of the Amazonian problems”. Signed by Izabella Teixeira, Marina Silva, Carlos Minc, Edson Duarte, José Sarney Filho, José Goldemberg, Rubens Ricupero, Gustavo Krause and José Carlos Carvalho, the document addresses the high rates of deforestation and burning registered in the Amazon in 2020 – which aggravated the respiratory problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – in addition to mentioning the imminent collapse of the region’s health system, which had its peak with the lack of oxygen in hospitals in Manaus, capital of Amazonas.

By presenting the Amazon as “especially vulnerable to the pandemic due to isolation, poverty, precarious health structure, and difficult access”, the former ministers appealed for help to the local population through the donation of oxygen cylinders, stretchers, oximeters, medical oxygen production plants, among other equipment. “Knowing closely the reality of the Amazon, the signatories of this letter, former ministers of the environment of Brazil, know from experience that neither the federal government nor the local governments have all the indispensable means to help the most fragile and vulnerable populations of the region”, says the text.

Recently, the French president threatened to suspend the import of Brazilian soy. Germany and Norway, major donors to the Amazon Fund, announced that they will only resume investments if Brazil shows effective efforts to fight deforestation in the region.

The request for help from former ministers to European leaders happened on the eve of Hamilton Mourão’s declaration at the World Economic Forum, in which he criticized the low “international financial and technical cooperation” for the protection of the Amazon, according to a story by Jamil Chad for UOL. At the meeting, Mourão announced that Brazil has resumed negotiations with Germany and Norway to send resources to the country.

Ministry of the Environment budget for 2021 is the lowest in 21 years

A report says that this is part of project of environmental destruction by the government

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

22 Jan 21

Ministry of the Environment budget for 2021 is the lowest in 21 years

Following the trend of cuts and low budget execution, the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), spearheaded by Ricardo Salles, presented for 2021 the smallest budget proposition of the last twenty-one years, indicates the report “Passando a boiada”, produced by the Climate Observatory (OC). The Annual Budget Bill (Ploa), which the National Congress probably will approve in March, foresees R$ 1.72 billion reais for all MMA expenses – since 2000, the authorized amount has never been less than R$ 2.9 billion reais. Another fact draws attention: after a year of record deforestation and burning rates, the ministry starts the year with a 27.4% reduction in the budget for environmental inspection and forest fire fighting.

The proposal “crowns the Bolsonaro government’s environmental dismantling strategy,” analyzes the organization, reminding that the president fulfilled his promises made in 2019. “It is a destruction project that is being carried out,” says Suely Araújo, a senior public policy specialist at the Climate Observatory.

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous leaders deliver letter of denouncement to public prosecution

Credit: Obind/Reproduction

21 Jan 21

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous organizations have presented a formal complaint against the Bill of Law 201/2020, authored by Roraima state government, which allows gold digging permits with previous analysis. The denouncement was presented to Federal and State Prosecution. 

A special commission of the State Congress voted unanimously in favor of the bill by Roraima State Governor Antonio Denarium that liberates the mining activity in Roraima “without prior analysis,” points out an article by the G1. The bill, called PL 201/2020 does not detail which ores and territories it affects. It also allows, through an amendment by congressional representative Éder Lourinho, the use of mercury in the activities, responsible for serious social and environmental damage.

While Denarium speaks of “allying mining with sustainability,” the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), as well as other organizations, are contrary to the proposal and calls for its withdrawal from vote. In a statement, the CIR recalled the indigenous struggle against the invasion of their lands in the state, like in the Raposa do Sol and Yanomami Indigenous Lands, and said the project is an “attack on the environment“. “To approve PL 201 is to legalize the destruction of forests, pollution of rivers, lakes, streams and our rich land, which is home to thousands of animals, birds, fish and all kinds of living beings”.

Manaus Mayor blames environmentalists, who opposed the construction of a road, for lack of oxygen in the hospitals

Activists say that the BR-319 threatens the Amazon forest

Credit: DNIT/via O eco

18 Jan 21

Manaus Mayor blames environmentalists, who opposed the construction of a road, for lack of oxygen in the hospitals

In an attempt to justify the oxygen supply crisis in Manaus hospitals by the difficulty of access to the city, Mayor David Almeida resumed his push for the reconstruction of the BR 319 highway and blamed environmentalists opposed to its construction for the collapse in the public health system. “There are people who devastated their countries and come here to lobby against our road, BR-319, which connects Porto Velho, capital of Roraima state, to Manaus. This causes our isolation. This isolation in part contributes to this Covid tragedy,” he told the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo.

In the current emergency scenario, the outlet Amazônia Real emphasized that the road would not be an efficient alternative for oxygen supply. The article also pointed out that the proponents of the work are reluctant to do environmental studies and to meet the demands of Ibama, an environmental control agency.

For experts, the highway represents a threat to the protection of the Amazon and a risk to the survival of several indigenous communities that live around it, by opening areas of forest to the entry of land-grabbers, loggers and other environmental criminals. The BR-319 highway is one of the main promises of the Jair Bolsonaro administration for the Amazon, planned for 2022.

Manaus can’t breath: Amazonas state capital residents die of Covid-19 in crowded hospitals without oxygen

Health professionals say that “patients are being murdered” by government neglect

Credit: Amazônia Real/Reproduction

17 Jan 21

Manaus can’t breath: Amazonas state capital residents die of Covid-19 in crowded hospitals without oxygen

Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, in the Amazon region, was one of the first cities in Brazil to see its health system collapse with the pandemic. Months after that episode, the city is going through the same predictable tragedy, with an outburst of Covid-19 cases and the lack of oxygen canisters in its crowded hospitals since January 14th. Patients are dying asphyxiated, as reported by health professionals, and over 200 people were transferred to other states.

A story by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo showed that general Eduardo Pazuello, minister of Health, was warned about the oxygen shortage in Manaus by members of the state government, by the company that produces oxygen and even by his sister-in-law who had a family member “without oxygen to live through the day”. Even with four days of notice, he said “he couldn’t do anything”. A few days before the collapse, the minister sent a task-force of doctors to promote “precocious treatment” with chloroquine and other unproven medicines.

The appearance of a new strain of the virus is one of the culprits, experts say, but this chaotic scenario is preceded by neglect by the federal administration. Jesem Orellana, a researcher at Fiocruz-Amazônia, said in an interview to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that the rejection, by government officials, to do a lockdown, suggested by experts since September, is to blame. The governor, Wilson Lima, supported by president Jair Bolsonaro, fought against more restrictive measures. Orellana also blamed “bad science” after a study said that Manaus had achieved “herd immunity”. “This was debated at restaurant tables and between politicians. Now we know better. The population relaxed and now we know how it ended”.

The Manaus situation shocked the country and the civil society mobilized efforts to aid the hospitals and send oxygen to the state. The president, however, sustained his position and said “he did what he could”, while reinforcing his promotion of ineffective and unproven medicines against Covid-19.

Bolsonaro reduced civil society participation in environmental councils, study says

Survey is based on a timeline of government decisions

Credit: Leandro Cagiano/Greenpeace

15 Jan 21

Bolsonaro reduced civil society participation in environmental councils, study says

A study conducted by NGOs Article 19, Imaflora and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) highlights and reveals the serious setbacks in civil society participation in socio-environmental policies throughout the Bolsonaro’s administration and in access to information. Exclusion of collegiate bodies, reduction of seats in councils, threats to servants and database blackouts are some strategies mentioned.

Of 22 governmental environmental collegiate organizations, more than half were impacted by extinctions or restructuring, points out the “Mapping of transparency and social participation setbacks in Brazilian environmental policy”. The study highlights the weakening of the National Environmental Council (Conama) – which had its number of councilors reduced from 96 to 23 participants, and of the 23 seats for civil society, only 4 remained – and the National Biodiversity Commission (Conabio), whose representatives from academia and society went from 8 to 2.

For Bruno Vello, Imaflora Public Policy analyst, the survey indicates that “setbacks in environmental policies seen over the past few years make it difficult for society to monitor and participate in decisions made by the Executive,” he said in a note published by ISA.

IACHR says that Bolsonaro’s actions to curb Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples was insufficient

OAS body recommends measures to protect the integrity of life in indigenous communities

Credit: Sesai/via CC BY-SA 2.0

14 Jan 21

IACHR says that Bolsonaro’s actions to curb Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples was insufficient

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), has decided favourably to a Guajajara and Awá peoples of the Araribóia Indigenous Territory denouncement against Bolsonaro government. The decision pointed to the negligence by the government in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and recommended precautionary measures. Failures in health care and the presence of invaders in their territory were some points presented by the indigenous people in December last year.

As already denounced by other communities, the complaint mentions the Special Indigenous Health District (DESEI) in Maranhão State as the epicenter of positive cases of the disease among the indigenous of the region, at the beginning of July last year. Based on the analysis of the data presented – such as the fact that 8% of the population of TI Araribóia had been diagnosed with Covid-19 by August 2020 – and the lack of information from the Brazilian state on the implementation and effectiveness of plans to combat the disease among the indigenous population, the commission understood that “there were no elements indicating that the actions of the state have been sufficient and effective in protecting the indigenous peoples who live in the Indigenous Land Araribóia”.

Faced with this finding, the IACHR asked Brazil to adopt measures to protect the rights “to health, life, and personal integrity” of the Guajajara and Awá of Araribóia, which includes adequate medical assistance and preventive actions against the spread of the disease.

International Biodiversity summit happens without Brazil and criticizes commodities from deforested areas

50 countries participated in the summit

Credit: Reproduction/Twitter via One Planet Summit

14 Jan 21

International Biodiversity summit happens without Brazil and criticizes commodities from deforested areas

Led by France President Emmanuel Macron, the One Planet Summit brought together, on January 11th, heads of states, entrepreneurs and representatives of NGOs to expand a global alliance dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity – without the participation of Brazil. The organization claims an invitation had been sent but the Foreign Relations Ministry says that the country was not invited- neither to the event nor to join the alliance.

The devastation of the Amazon, a target of recurrent criticism from Macron, was debated and the group took the opportunity to reinforce their intention of closing the market for traders who are unable to secure deforestation-free products. By June, Europe will have “the first law to put an end to deforestation imports,” said Pascal Canfin, president of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, according to a story by Jamil Chade for UOL.

The day after the meeting, the French president pointed his finger at the imports of Brazilian soy. “To continue depending on Brazilian soy is to endorse the deforestation of the Amazon. We are consistent with our ecological ambitions, we are fighting to produce soy in Europe!”, he said in a Twitter post. In yet another public exchange of splinters, Jair Bolsonaro responded with disdain: “For God’s sake, “Mister” Macron, ‘don’t buy soy from Brazil because then you won’t deforest the Amazon, buy soy from France. France produces 20% of what the city of Sorriso produces here in Mato Grosso [state]. You keep talking nonsense there, oh, Mister Macron, you don’t even know your country and you’re trying to tell what we need to do here in Brazil,” declared the president in his weekly live broadcast via social networks, as reported by the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply stated that Macron’s declaration denotes “complete ignorance about the cultivation process of the product imported by the French”.

In protest, Ibama’s public servants resign after termination of technical leader

Eduardo Bim, Ibama’s president

Credit: Handout/Ibama

14 Jan 21

In protest, Ibama’s public servants resign after termination of technical leader

After the announcement of the termination of Halisson Peixoto Barreto, national coordinator of the environmental agency Ibama’s sanctions process, the heads of the sections commanded by the Barreto resigned from their positions in protest. Barreto’s departure was a request from Wagner Tadeu Matiota, a Military Police colonel, and the new superintendent of environmental infractions at Ibama (Siam), who took office in December 2020. With the request for collective resignation, all the work in analysis, conciliation and application of sanctions of the agency was paralyzed, points out the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Since 2013, Barreto had been in charge of a team of approximately 300 employees, responsible for processing environmental fines. According to the specialized portal O Eco, officials of the superintendency of Rio Grande do Sul sent a letter rejecting the decision to Ibama’s president, Eduardo Bim. “The exoneration takes place in the midst of a critical moment for the administration, precisely in the area of the sanctioning process. It is worth mentioning here that Mr. Halisson has worked exhaustively in the construction and implementation of the whole environmental fines process”, says the text. Bim said he was unable to overturn the decision.

For Suely Araújo, former president of Ibama and senior specialist in public policies of the Climate Observatory, the departure of the technical leader is another episode of the systematic dismantling of Ibama provoked by the current government. “The leadership is removed, the team is demotivated, public policies are weakened. They get what they want: the weakening of the agency that ‘bothered’ them the most,” she declared to Folha.

Ministry of the Environment bids management of national parks to the private sector in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states

Those are the first parks to be auctioned under the new regulation proposed by Salles

Credit: Divulgação/ICMBio

11 Jan 21

Ministry of the Environment bids management of national parks to the private sector in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states

The national parks of Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral, located on the border between Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul state, were auctioned by the Ministry of the Environment and ceded to the private sector. On Twitter, Minister Ricardo Salles celebrated the R$ 20 million bid given by the Construcap group, winner of the trading session, and the R$260 million that should be invested throughout the 30-year contract. “Absolute success of the new model of federal park concessions!”, he said.

For the Federal Public Prosecution office, though, the bidding is irregular and should be annulled. The prosecutors filed a lawsuit against the environmental agencies Ibama and ICMBio, responsible for overseeing the parks, in the Federal Court of Rio Grande do Sul, demanding a more detailed basic project on the concession, but the request was rejected by the court.

Bolsonaro administration authorizes 56 new pesticides, totalling 935 in two years

In two years, the government authorized 32% of the agrochemicals currently available in the country

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

11 Jan 21

Bolsonaro administration authorizes 56 new pesticides, totalling 935 in two years

The Ministry of Agriculture published in the Official Federal Gazette the release of 56 new pesticide products – 51 generic and 5 new substances, according to a survey made by the G1 news channel. Of these, 37 are chemical pesticides and only 19 are biological, which can be used in commercial crops and in organic food production, for example.

Since the beginning of its mandate, the Bolsonaro administration has broken records in the number of agrochemicals allowed for agriculture. In 2020, there were 461 new registers, just behind the historic 474 mark, reached in 2019, according to the report.

Rise in oil prices inflates cost of cooking gas canisters

Price of the cylinder might reach 200 reais in 2021, says association

Credit: ubonwanu/iStock

7 Jan 21

Rise in oil prices inflates cost of cooking gas canisters

Because of the rising value of oil in the international market, the price of the cooking gas (13 kg canister) in Brazil has never been so high, declared the president of the Brazilian Association of Gas Resellers, Alexandre Borjaili, to the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. In less than 40 days, Petrobras announced two readjustments of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG): 5%, on December 4, 2020, and the most recent, 6%, on January 6, 2021.

Borjaili foresees that the canister can cost from R$ 150 to R$ 200 in 2021 – in comparison to the R$ 75 in November 2020. The rise happened mainly after the sale of gas company Liquigás by national oil giant Petrobrás, concluded at the end of last year. “LPG is now controlled by multinationals and they totally abandoned the social principle of the 13 Kg canister”, he said. According to the state company, the increase in demand affected the price of gas 2020 – for cooking, heating and petrochemicals-, which reflected on international prices and, consequently, on Brazil.

To avoid the return to the massive use of firewood in the country – an alternative for a large part of the low-income population, which has no way of keeping up with the rise in the price of cooking gas – the businessman said he’s trying to bring to Brazil a “clean” stove, developed by the United Nations (UN), powered by ethanol.

Amazon deforestation threatens São Paulo’s water supply

According to a scientist, the drought is a result of the systematic destruction of the Amazon

Credit: Lucas Landau/Greenpeace

4 Jan 21

Amazon deforestation threatens São Paulo’s water supply

Since October 2020, the Cantareira System, one of the country’s largest water reservoirs and the main responsible for supplying the metropolitan region of the State of São Paulo, has presented a storage rate of 35.6%, the lowest volume recorded since December 2013, a period that preceded one of the high points of the chronic Brazilian water crisis. According to scientists, the deforestation in the Amazon is linked to the lack of rainfall throughout the year.

This cause-and-effect relationship had already been explained by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) with the report “The climatic future of the Amazon” (2014). The study shows that the removal of vegetation can cause the decline of humidity-laden winds that come from the ocean to the continent. Geologist Pedro Côrtes explained the phenomenon. “You destroy trees with long roots and exchange them for grass, with short roots, which does not have the drainage capacity to reach the deep aquifers of the [Amazon region]. The result is a reduction in the atmosphere’s humidity, while the winds continue to blow [to the south], but increasingly dry”.

Côrtes also pointed out that other important reservoirs in the country face the same problem and emphasize that this is a historical problem. “This model of deforestation in the Amazon is 50 years old. It began in the 70s, with the Transamazon highway, and there is no longer justification for its maintenance. There are scientific works from the late 1980s that already warned that it could generate environmental impacts, including a reduction in the volume of rainfall. Today, we are reaping the consequences”, he said.

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

Indigenous Land Ituna-Itatá, one of the most affected by deforestation, is still waiting for governmental approval

Credit: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

3 Jan 21

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

“As long as I am president, there will be no demarcation of indigenous lands”. One year and six months after Jair Bolsonaro’s speech, the promise has been kept. In addition, the government has slowed down 70% of the demarcation processes already requested, points out the newspaper O Globo’s survey based on data from the Socio-environmental Institute (ISA).

The survey, carried out in registry offices and through consultations of decrees, ministerial ordinances and publications of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), shows that 70% of the processes – referring to 237 territories – are frozen between FUNAI and the Ministry of Justice, the organs responsible for “identification, study and declarations of the lands”, before receiving the presidential sanction.

In secrecy, Brazilian Air Force purchases US$ 33.8 million satellite for the Amazon

Experts say that the military want to be in control of deforestation data

Credit: Inpe/Reprodução/via G1

31 Dec 20

In secrecy, Brazilian Air Force purchases US$ 33.8 million satellite for the Amazon

The Brazilian Air Force signed a US$ 33.8 million contract with a Finnish company for the purchase of a satellite, without due bidding process, whose contract was classified as “reserved”, as the journalist Rubens Valente, from UOL, reported.

Besides the irregularities involved in the process and the questionable effectiveness of the device for monitoring the Amazon forest, scientist Gilberto Câmara, director of the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) between 2005 and 2012, draws attention to the possible political motivation of the purchase. “This is a poorly explained situation that has, for me, only one justification: the military wants to say that they also have the capacity to measure deforestation to disregard the data from Inpe. The deforestation data bothers the military, who want to have control over it. This expenditure is not justified, it’s absurd. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic we are throwing away US$ 34 million when the government doesn’t even have enough syringes for the vaccine,” he declared to UOL.

The Inpe monitoring system has been under constant attacks by the military and other government figures, including President Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles, because of data provided by the entity on deforestation of the Amazon

Bolsonaro administrations softens regulations on artificial reefs

Environmentalists warn about potential risks to protected areas

Credit: Dan-Manila/iStock

31 Dec 20

Bolsonaro administrations softens regulations on artificial reefs

The Brazilian government has taken another step towards its project that aims at installing several artificial reefs along the coast, with the endorsement of the Navy and under criticism from environmentalists. On December 28, the environmental agency Ibama published in the Official Gazette (DOU) a norm (IN 28) that makes the process of environmental licensing for the installation of structures more flexible, including in marine conservation units. “The new text redefines the concept of artificial reef and opens some possibilities that were not foreseen before. In the definition of the 2009 regulation, it stated that the material used should be inert and non-polluting – expressions that do not appear now,” informed the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.

Two days after its publication, one of IN 28’s most critical points, according to experts, was revoked. The text allowed structures originally licensed for other purposes could be converted into artificial reefs. As an example, oil platforms in disuse could be sunk without the need to remove the machinery. The revocation, however, does not impede the progress of the government’s project to install the structures, which, without proper evaluation of their environmental impact, are considered potential threats to the health of the marine ecosystems along the Brazilian coast.

Meetings about the merger of environmental agencies are dominated by armed forces personnel

Minutes are vague and do not detail the subjects discussed, says report

Credit: José Cruz/Agência Brasil

28 Dec 20

Meetings about the merger of environmental agencies are dominated by armed forces personnel

The meetings from a work group created by the Ministry of the Environment about the merger of Ibama and ICMBio are being conducted behind closed doors almost exclusively by military personnel and members of São Paulo state Military Police. Ibama and ICMbio are the country’s main environmental agencies, responsible for environmental licensing, overseeing and conservation. Minister Ricardo Salles excluded the civil society from the meetings.

In September, the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema Nacional) denounced the militarization of key positions in the ministry, denouncing in a dossier “the replacement of career servants by military personnel or military police (inexperienced but obedient),” which would show “the intentionality of weakening the environmental area in the current administration,” says the text.

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Aerial image of the Awa Indigenous Land, in the Amazon Region

Crédito: Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace

28 Dec 20

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Justice Carmen Lúcia, of the Supreme Court, ordered President Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles to provide information about the record-breaking annual deforestation data and the measures adopted by the government to fight it, as reported by the website G1. A lawsuit filed by the Sustainability Network party (Rede), which denounces the failure in the government’s environmental preservation policy and calls for concrete measures, was the responsible for the court’s decision.

In 2020, the Amazon saw record-breaking deforestation. Between August 2019 and July 2020, more than 11,000 km² were devastated, an increase of 9.5% compared to the previous period. The Pantanal was another biome severely affected: more than 10% of its area was ravaged by fires this year.

The situation of the Cerrado biome is also worrying. Between August 2019 and July 2020, there was a 13% increase in deforestation compared to the previous period, according to the National Institute for Space Research Institute (Inpe). As reported by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, 7,340 km² of native vegetation was lost, the highest value since 2015. The article points to the expansion of the agricultural frontier in the Matopiba region as the major threat to the biome.

Government gives concession to exploit natural resources at Humaitá National Forest

The gorest has three times the area of the city of São Paulo

Credit: Handout

23 Dec 20

Government gives concession to exploit natural resources at Humaitá National Forest

With the authorization of the federal government published in the Official Gazette of the Union (DOU) on December 17, companies, cooperatives and local community associations will be able to, from now on, carry out sustainable forest management and extraction of timber and non-timber products from the Humaitá National Forest (Flona Humaitá), in southern Amazonas state.

The environmental concession, signed by the Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, lasts 40 years, according to the Public Forest Management Law (2006), and was already foreseen in the Annual Forest Grant Plan of 2020, the government said. Flona Humaitá has a total area of 472,454.90 hectares, equivalent to three times the size of the city of São Paulo, and will be divided into three management units.

A few days later, the DOU published the inclusion of nine Conservation Units in the National Privatization Program (PND), with the goal of guaranteeing “the sustainable use of the economic potential” of the regions, according to the government. The measure includes the National Forest of Brasília (DF) and the national parks of Serra dos Órgãos (RJ), Ubajara (CE), Serra da Capivara (PI) and Chapada dos Guimarães (MT).

Ashaninka people reaches the end of 2020 without Covid-19 cases

Ancestral knowledge and community organization were crucial to prevent the spread of the illness

Credit: Arison Jardim/Apiwtxa Association

22 Dec 20

Ashaninka people reaches the end of 2020 without Covid-19 cases

Following strict social isolation and using their ancestral knowledge, the Ashaninka reached the end of 2020 without cases of Covid-19 in the villages of the Kampa Indigenous Land of the Amônia River in Acre State, in the Amazon region. According to the Special Indigenous Health District (Desei) of the Upper Juruá and Purus River, this is the only indigenous people in the state that remains free of the disease, reported the G1 portal.

Following the recommended security protocols, they vetoed any residents from leaving the villages and prohibited the entrance of visitors. Those who needed to solve pending issues outside the villages, such as going to the bank, have been assisted by a specific commission. Faced with the risk of shortages, the work in the fields and plantations has been intensified throughout the pandemic, resulting in a plentiful and diverse production of fruits, vegetables and greens. The purchase of groceries in the city near Marechal Thaumaturgo, such as salt, coffee, oil and sugar, is carried out by a group designated to make the order beforehand to the local traders.

The ancestors’ inheritance is considered by the Ashaninka of extreme importance for the success of Covid-19. The use of remedies extracted from plants and roots and the tradition of disposing the houses of the residents far from each other are some of the ancestral practices that, according to local leaders, helped the people to face past epidemics such as measles, mumps and flu.

“The Ashaninka people of the river Amônia have a consolidated social organization, and that represents very well the collective interest of the people,” states the leadership Francisco Piyãko in a testimony to the website Amazônia Real.

Folha de S. Paulo, one of the most read Brazilian newspapers, launches environmental monitor to track government actions

The tool accompanies the official government gazette

Credit: Handout/Monitor da Política Ambiental

17 Dec 20

Folha de S. Paulo, one of the most read Brazilian newspapers, launches environmental monitor to track government actions

The newspaper Folha de São Paulo, in partnership with the Política por Inteiro initiative, launched the Environmental Policy Monitor, a tool that gathers official acts related to the environment published in the government official gazette . Through keyword mining, they select publications of interest, which undergo analysis by a team of experts responsible for indicating the most relevant and suggesting a classification. So far, 606 standards and regulations issued by Bolsonaro’s administration have been identified and classified.

With biweekly updates, the project’s goal is “to allow the public to have more knowledge about the federal government activity regarding the environment, which is not always simple, considering that norms for the sector are published together with thousands more related to other areas”.

Heavy usage of agrochemicals in soy plantations contaminates Brazil wine country

Contamination might jeopardize production in Rio Grande do Sul State

Credit: Michelle Rodrigues/Seapdr

17 Dec 20

Heavy usage of agrochemicals in soy plantations contaminates Brazil wine country

Agrochemicals that have 2.4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) in their composition, used for weed control in soybean plantations, have caused serious damage to rural producers of various crops in the region of Campanha, Rio Grande do Sul State, especially among wine growers.

In an interview with the newspaper Brasil de Fato, Valter Potter, president of local wine producers association, reported that they have observed the effects of the contamination over time, but the impacts have worsened in the last three years. In 2020, a laboratory analysis conducted by the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) on leaves and other affected materials identified 2.4-D in 87% of the samples, which corresponds to the loss of 1 million liters of wine, just among the members of the association, estimates Potter. The effects were harsher among small and medium producers.

When sprayed, the herbicide can spread for up to 30 kilometers, which makes it difficult to identify its origin and possible claims for compensation. The producers who ask for the suspension of the use of dichlorophenoxyacetic acid in Rio Grande do Sul. After several attempts at dialogue with the municipality and the State, two associations of wine farmers filed a public civil lawsuit against the state to prevent even greater financial losses.

Shareholders want to drop environmental agency decision to increase water flow from Belo Monte dam

Measure caused by environmental and social concerns could hurt corporate profits

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR/via Fotos públicas

15 Dec 20

Shareholders want to drop environmental agency decision to increase water flow from Belo Monte dam

Shareholders of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant are trying to win the support of the federal government to reverse Ibama’s, the environmental control agency decision that would force Norte Energia, the corporation responsible for the plant, to release a greater volume of water to flow from its reservoir into the stretch known as the Volta Grande do Xingu, in Pará State. Valid until the end of 2020, the decision aims to mitigate the environmental impacts on the riverside populations caused by the hydroelectric dam, since the region suffered a historic drought this year. According to Reuters agency, the shareholders – who fear that the measure will be extended to 2021 – have already met with the Ministry of Mines and Energy and there is an expectation that the government will contribute to the negotiations given the participation of the state-owned Eletrobrás in the project.

While the businessmen maintain that the decision could seriously compromise the hydroelectric plant’s power generation, Norte Energia had its request for revocation of the new hydroelectric program denied by the Federal Court, on the grounds that Ibama, responsible for Belo Monte’s environmental licensing, pointed out “worsening environmental conditions in the area” due to the reduced flow, which “leads to the possibility of changing the conditions of the operating license”.

The definitive increase in the flow of water released by the hydroelectric plant is still open. Reuters reported that Ibama will conclude the analysis of complementary studies on the impacts of Belo Monte delivered by Norte Energia.

Government spent only half of allocated budget to fight Covid-19 among indigenous, says NGO

Study claims that there is a “genocide in course”

Credit: Ingrid Ãgohó Pataxó/ Cimi

14 Dec 20

Government spent only half of allocated budget to fight Covid-19 among indigenous, says NGO

The National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the federal agency responsible for ensuring the rights of the indigenous peoples, spent only half of the resources available for fighting the coronavirus among the indigenous until early December. The figure comes from an unprecedented survey by the Institute of Socio-economic Studies (Inesc). Also, the government program “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, also had only 46% of its budget applied in the period. “The low budget usage rate is emblematic of the undermining of the indigenous policies, which, deprived of staff, technical staff and political priority, fails in fulfilling its constitutional duties”, points out Leila Saraiva, political advisor to the NGO.

The data reinforce the claim made by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib) with the report “Our fight is for life”, which details the impact of the pandemic among the indigenous population. By December 9, the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory registered 41,250 indigenous people infected and 889 deaths because of Covid-19.

Brazil is excluded from UN climate summit

The organization considered the goals presented by minister Ricardo Salles to be insufficient

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

12 Dec 20

Brazil is excluded from UN climate summit

The UN excluded Brazil from the 2020 Climate Ambition Summit, a virtual meeting held on December 12. 77 heads of state attended the summit, who also received representatives of the business sector and civil society. The meeting of the “world’s most ambitious” global leaders, according to the UN, marked the five years of the Paris Accord and prepares the debate for the 2021 Conference on Climate Change (COP 26), in the United Kingdom. The representatives of the countries presented their established targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions aimed at slowing global warming.

The Brazilian goal, revealed four days before the summit by the Ministry of the Environment was considered insufficient. This was the reason that led the meeting organizers to leave Brazil out of the discussion, according to the UOL report.

According to an analysis by the Climate Observatory, the plan presented by Minister Ricardo Salles is an update of the 2015 plan that is based on an inadequate calculation, which will allow Brazil to emit a greater volume of greenhouse gases than the original target. Heard by the website G1, the environmentalist Marcio Astrini, executive director of the Observatory, explains that the new goal maintains the same percentage reduction defined five years ago – 43% by 2030 – without considering the change in the calculation basis used. “The 2015 reduction target was based on the Second Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The current goal is based on the Third Inventory, which updated the absolute value of gases emitted in 2005 from 2.1 billion tons to 2.8 billion tons of gases”. In other words, to maintain the climate target assumed in 2015, Brazil would have to commit to reducing 57% of emissions by 2030. “Without the readjustment in the calculation basis, the new target of the climate proposal is about 400 million tons of carbon higher than it was in 2015,” warns Astrini.

In the opposite direction of the UN, the Ministry of Foreign Relations stated in a note that the new goals presented by Brazil are among the “most ambitious in the world”.

Bolsonaro administration exposed for neglecting indigenous peoples rights during Covid-19 pandemic

Indigenous organizations calls out “hateful policies”

Credit: Valentina Ricardo/Greenpeace

10 Dec 20

Bolsonaro administration exposed for neglecting indigenous peoples rights during Covid-19 pandemic

The Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib) has once again denounced the government’s neglect in the fight against Covid-19 with the report “Our struggle is for life,” which details the impact of the pandemic among the indigenous population. Five months after the organization achieved, through the Federal Supreme Court (STF), the mandatory adoption of measures to protect indigenous peoples by the federal government, the decision continues to be ignored by the Bolsonaro administration, points out the report.

As a way of measuring the real impact of the disease on the community, the Apib, in collaboration with other indigenous organizations, has accounted autonomously, in addition to the official data presented by the government, the advance of the pandemic among the indigenous population. By December, there had been 800 deaths, 42019 confirmed cases, and 161 people affected, more than half of the peoples that are living in Brazil. “Much more than numbers, it was our shamans, our midwives, elders and chiefs who left. We lost our elders who kept the memories of our ancestry, guardians of knowledge, of songs, of prayers, of our spirituality. Leaders who dedicated their lives to the struggle to defend the territory, the integrity and the physical and cultural existence of their people”, says the report.

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

Environmentalists and House Representatives say that the proposition stimulates land grabbing

Credit: Christian Braga /Greenpeace

8 Dec 20

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

In an ordinance published in the Federal Official Gazette (DOU) on December 3, the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) presented the program “Titula Brasil [Acquiring Deeds Brazil]”, which outsources the process of land regularization of Union or Incra lands through a partnership with municipalities throughout Brazil, “with main emphasis on the nine states of the Legal Amazon”, according to a official statement from the government.

In 60 days the government will announce more details of the measure. So far, what is known is that it will be up to the municipality to nominate technicians who will carry out the survey, either municipal officials or external employees. Those chosen will receive an online training given by Incra and, once qualified, will act as outsourced employees of the Institute.

Servants, environmentalists, and congressional representatives – who have asked for the courts to annul the ordinance – have pointed out that the program facilitates land grabbing and threatens indigenous territories and quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities]. This would be another step by the government toward regulating illegally occupied lands, they warn, recalling the provisional measure known as “MP da Grilagem” [Land Grabbing Provisional Measure] published by Bolsonaro at the end of 2019, and later transformed into Bill 2.633/2020, still under analysis in the House of Representatives.

To the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the director of the National Confederation of Incra Servants’ Associations (Cnasi) classified the proposal as “disastrous”. “With this decision, all of Brazil’s land grabbing will be regularized in a short time. This will prevent new land reform settlement projects, new regularization of quilombola territories, new indigenous areas and new areas of environmental preservation. It is an inconsequential and disastrous decision for democratization of access to land and for the environment,” he said.

Another critical point of “Titula Brasil” is the possibility of remote inspection by geo-referencing. According to the G1 portal, an audit by the Comptroller General’s Office (CGU) pointed out that Incra did not carry out any face-to-face inspections in 2019, “essential to ensure that the regularized land is not the target of land theft or is in dispute among families”, say experts.

Bolsonaro confirms Minister Salles as Brazil's representative at COP-26 in 2021

Minister of the Environment is under pressure because of his anti-environment policies

Credit: Carolina Antunes/PR/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

4 Dec 20

Bolsonaro confirms Minister Salles as Brazil’s representative at COP-26 in 2021

In his weekly broadcast in social networks, President Jair Bolsonaro announced Ricardo Salles as Brazil’s representative at the next Climate Conference (COP-26), scheduled for November 2021. Experts saw the gesture as a sign of support to the Minister of the Environment, who has been a target of strong national and international pressure due to his anti-environmental stance at the head of the ministry.

Salles, who took part in the broadcast with the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, stated that cooperation “in concrete terms” with external agents can only be possible if other countries send resources to Brazil. “The group, the countries, initiatives, they have to send resources to help us. It’s no use just criticizing for free. Resources must also come”, he said, according to an transcript by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.

Salles’ environmental policy, however, led precisely to the paralysis of foreign donations destined to Brazilian environmental protection, like the imbroglio of the Amazon Fund, who came to a halt in donations in 2019, when Norway and Germany, the main donors, withdrew their contributions because of their strong criticism of the policies adopted by Salles, then president of the fund, which is now under the command of Vice President Hamilton Mourão.   

 

Auction of 327 oil blocks threatens indigenous lands and conservation units, warns NGO

Study shows that the Amazon region would be most affected

Credit: zhengzaishuru/via iStock

4 Dec 20

Auction of 327 oil blocks threatens indigenous lands and conservation units, warns NGO

Of the 327 oil blocs auctioned by the National Oil and Gas Agency (ANP) in the 2nd Permanent Offering Cycle, only 17 were sold – the equivalent of 5%. Although the volume can be considered low, R$ 56.6 million were raised, more than double the previous cycle, in 2019, according to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Most of the blocks for sale were in land, reassuring the objective of interiorization of the oil industry in places previously explored only by Petrobras, the national state owned company.

The blocks offered in the Amazon region worry environmentalists. A preliminary study to the auction, promoted by the NGO 350.org, points out that the exploration areas, if sold, can cause significant social and environmental damage in 47 Indigenous Lands (IT) and 22 Conservation Units (UC) located near the extraction sites. The hydraulic fracturing method, known as fracking, in which a perforated vertical well receives an injection of water together with chemical solvents and sand, under great pressure, is pointed out as especially harmful. Among the risks is “contamination of surface and underground water resources” due to the toxic substance injected, local hybrid insecurity, since the technique demands “excessive use of water” and threatens “the food security of small farmers, indigenous peoples and traditional peoples,” the report says.

The document identifies dozens of social and environmental impacts from oil and gas exploration, including the territorial threat to indigenous and traditional communities and the increase in burning and deforestation in occupied areas.

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A farm in São Félix do Xingu, Pará State, that participated in the “Day of The Fire” and supplies JBS and Marfrig

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

3 Dec 20

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A Global Witness survey shows that three Brazilian beef giants – JBS, Marfrig and Minerva – have their production chains marked by illegal deforestation in the Amazon. The study shows that between 2017 and 2019, in Pará State, the companies bought cattle from 379 farms that illegally deforested an area of 202 square kilometers, equivalent to 20,000 soccer fields. The trail of destruction is even greater when considering the over 4,000 suppliers of these farms, the “indirect suppliers” linked to the productive chains of the companies, responsible for an estimated total of 140,000 deforested soccer fields.

The report also questions the veracity of the audits carried out by international companies DNV-GL and Grant Thornton, which claimed “several times” that JBS, Marfrig and Minerva were fulfilling their social and environmental commitments. Also, major international banks such as Santander, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cited in the document as accomplices to the deforestation, since they continue financing the companies.

The farmers are direct accomplices of the destruction of the Amazon, the slaughterhouses are failing to remove the deforestation from their productive chains of the cattle that they buy from these cattle ranchers, the auditors have restrictions to perform their audits, which means that the audits are not detecting the cases that we identified, The banks, on the other hand, are not asking enough questions of the meat factories and, at the same time, are not forced by their governments to make a strict control to remove deforestation from their investments,” summarized Chris Moye, senior Amazon researcher at Global Witness, in an interview for BBC Brazil

Amazon deforestation hits record high under Bolsonaro

Brazil lost 11.088 km² of Amazon Rainforest in eleven months

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

30 Nov 20

Amazon deforestation hits record high under Bolsonaro

The Bolsonaro administration broke the record for deforestation in the Amazon in the last 12 years, according to data from the National Institute of Space Research (INPE). From August 2019 to July 2020, 11,088 km² of forest were devastated, an increase of approximately 9.5% over the previous period. The State of Pará leads the devastation, being responsible for 46.8% of the deforestation. These are the first merged data that contemplate only the mandate of the current government, informed Folha de S. Paulo.

During the presentation of the new survey, which occurred without the presence of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, vice president Hamilton Mourão said that the increase was below expected, but reinforced that they should face the new data with concern.

The growing devastation in the Amazon happens despite the presence of the Armed Forces in the region – through the Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO). The measure is a bet by the government to respond to the problem. A group of foreign military personnel issued a warning about Brazil’s environmental and climate vulnerability and the country’s lack of structure to deal with the problem. As part of its annual report, the International Military Council on Climate and Security published a document asking the government to treat climate change and deforestation as a “security priority,” reinforcing that current environmental policy damages the country’s reputation. “Besides putting ecology and water supply at risk, the recent outbreak of deforestation and the counterproductive rhetoric of President Bolsonaro have damaged Brazil’s reputation abroad, undermining the country’s trade agreements.”

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

Indigenous state that they were held for three days in a farm

Credit: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

30 Nov 20

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

A group of Parakanã indigenous is accusing the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights (MMFDH), led by Damares Alves, of arbitrating and participating in a meeting with farmers in order to pressure chiefs to accept a proposal that includes the reduction of the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory, located between the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, Pará State, in the Amazon. In a letter of denouncement and protest, to which the newspaper O Globo had access, leaders reported that the meeting came as a surprise. They were told that they would discuss the invasion of land grabbers on indigenous lands. The meeting, with representatives of the ministry of Damares and farmers, was held on an irregular rural property located inside the indigenous land. In a statement to the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF), an indigenous person that attended the meeting reported that the indigenous people were detained for three days inside the property, without outside contact, being threatened by the landowners to agree to their requests to redefine the demarcation of the territory.

The letter points out the active participation of the federal government as a threatening agent and also says that the proposition to reduce the territory is unconstitutional. “[It was] Another trick of the Federal Government, allied with the invaders and the City Hall of São Félix, to cause internal division and confuse the leaders of the Parakanã people, with the eternal promise that the reduction of territory will resolve conflicts and bring peace to the Parakanã people,” says the text.

In a note sent to the newspaper, the MMFDH denies that they tried to force a treaty that would alter the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory”.

Bolsonaro’s administration has authorized 910 new agrochemicals since taking office

The number represents 30% of the agrochemicals sold in Brazil

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

30 Nov 20

Bolsonaro’s administration has authorized 910 new agrochemicals since taking office

In less than two years, Bolsonaro’s administration has approved the trade and use  of 910 new agrochemicals in Brazil. The information comes from Robotox, a project by Agência Pública and Reporter Brasil, that monitors the authorization for use and commercialization of new agrochemicals via Twitter.

The 910 new agrochemicals represent 30% of the number of products sold and used in Brazil – 2976, according to the project.

EU Parliament members criticize proposal to control NGOs in the Amazon in letter to Brazil's VP

VP denies knowing about decree to curb civil society action

Credit: Isac Nóbrega/PR/via CC BY 2.0

27 Nov 20

EU Parliament members criticize proposal to control NGOs in the Amazon in letter to Brazil’s VP

“While the Amazon is burning at record speed, limiting the operations of environmental and social groups and organizations can have devastating consequences,” says the letter sent by European Parliament members to Vice President Hamilton Mourão and to the Amazon Council, spearheaded by the VP, as reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. The criticism was motivated by the information, publicized by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo weeks before, that the Amazonian Council plans, through a new regulatory framework, to have total control over the actions of non-governmental organizations in the Amazon until 2022.

Among the signatories is Anna Cavazzini, vice-president of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Brazil. The criticism voices the European Union’s concern about the devastation of the forest, which could halt the trade agreement with Mercosur, signed in 2019.

The document defends cooperation between government and organized civil society and reiterates the positive aspects of NGOs’ actions for Brazilian environmental policy: “NGOs are not there to replace the government, but to complement its actions – and, crucially, to help make public policies more transparent and effective through free criticism”.

However, “free criticism” of Brazilian environmental policy has been a target of attacks by the federal government. In another attempt to curtail it, the Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles has filed four judicial interpellations, through the Federal Attorney General’s Office (AGU), against his critics – the targets are Márcio Astrini, coordinator of the Climate Observatory, journalists André Borges (O Estado de S. Paulo) and Cedê Silva (O Antagonista), as well as the scientist Antonio Donato Nobre, researcher of the Earth System Science Center of the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe). 

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

Blood samples of four out of ten children under the age of five present high mercury levels

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

26 Nov 20

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

A study on the presence of mercury poisoning caused by illegal gold digging among the Munduruku people in the Tapajós region, Pará State, indicates the presence of the metal in 100% of participants. About 57.9% had mercury levels above 6µg.g-1 – the maximum limit established by health agencies. The survey, conducted with 200 inhabitants of the Indigenous Land (TI) Sawré Muybu, focusing on the villages of Sawré Muybu, Poxo Muybu and Sawré Aboy, shows that in the regions most affected by illegal mining, the level of contamination observed was higher.

Among the children examined, 4 out of 10 under five years old in the three villages showed high concentrations of mercury. “This finding is especially worrisome, since mercury directly affects the Central Nervous System, which is developing in children under five years of age, and the brains of fetuses still in formation in the mother’s womb,” says the study. The survey also showed that the fish in the region, the major source of protein in the communities, are also contaminated by mercury.

Conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in partnership with the NGO WWF-Brazil, the study presents a series of recommendations to mitigate the problem, such as the immediate interruption of illegal gold mining in indigenous territories, a plan to discontinue the use of mercury in the camps, and a risk management plan for populations chronically exposed to mercury.

Amazon Illegal logging: Bolsonaro threatens international buyers whilst ignoring Brazil’s responsibility

Government officials met convicted criminal loggers

Credit: Fernando Augusto/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

26 Nov 20

Amazon Illegal logging: Bolsonaro threatens international buyers whilst ignoring Brazil’s responsibility

On November 17, during his official speech at the BRICS summit, President Bolsonaro said he would reveal which countries are buying illegal lumber from the Amazon. The move was seen as a response to international pressure that Brazil has suffered as a result of record deforestation rates in 2020. “We will reveal in the coming days the names of the countries that import this illegal wood from us through the immensity that is the Amazon region” declared the president at the meeting of the group, formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The speech echoed in the press over the following weeks and civil society organizations stressed the responsibility of the Brazilian government in the  international illegal timber trade – “If Bolsonaro knows who buys illegal timber, he must know who sells it. What we also want to know is when he will reverse his own actions, which benefit the exportation of illegal wood,” Greenpeace Brazil published in a posting on social networks. In an interview with Deutche Welle, Dinaman Tuxá, lawyer and executive coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), stated that the president’s speech has as background an environmental policy complicit with the problem. “In fact, he threatens to release a list of countries that buy illegal timber from Brazil because he is being pressured by great powers to change their environmental policy. So he is trying, in some way, to embarrass these consumer countries. But it’s totally contradictory, because at the same time he’s trying to expose a situation, he also makes it more flexible and encourages, in a certain way, the increase in illegal logging. The government is in favor of cutting the wood, he is in favor of increasing this market and now he is trying to create a political incident because he is being pressured in the international field,” said Tuxá.

In the following week, a report in the newspaper O Globo revealed that on February 6, the president of the environmental control agency Ibama, Eduardo Fortunato Bim, met with an entourage of businessmen from the lumber sector in Pará State at the headquarters of the Ministry of Environment. Nineteen days after the meeting, Bim signed a dispatch releasing the export of native wood without authorization from the agency, which facilitates the commercialization of illegally extracted wood. According to the newspaper, two of the lumber companies that attended the meeting received more than R$ 2.6 million in environmental fines.

Brazil halts UN biodiversity agreement

Environmentalists issued a manifest asking for the Brazilian diplomacy to review its posture

Credit: Diego Baravelli/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY-SA 4.0

24 Nov 20

Brazil halts UN biodiversity agreement

Of the 196 countries of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Brazil was the only one to express disagreement with the document that contained the 2021 budget of the body, halting the progress of negotiations of the new UN biodiversity agreement, that would replace the previous, signed in 2011. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the country’s representatives claim that the process should not proceed with online meetings – adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic – since not all countries would have technical conditions to participate. However, sources that accompany the negotiations say that the intention of Brazilian diplomacy is to bar the new agreement.

In an official statement on November 19, signed by CBD president and Egypt environment minister Yasmine Fouad, Brazil is cited nominally as an obstacle to the continuity of activities: “I expected to announce that the decision on the provisional budget for the year 2021 was adopted. However, due to a comment that was sent by the Brazilian government aiming at inserting footnotes in the decision projects, it was not possible to move forward. The comment was an objection to the adoption of these decisions by the respective bodies”.

On November 24, a manifesto endorsed by more than 100 environmentalists and entities asked for an immediate review of the Brazilian diplomatic stance. The document was sent to Vice President Hamilton Mourão, who is at the head of the Amazon Council and of the Amazon Fund, and to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araújo, and of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Tereza Cristina, as reported by the website Direito da Ciência. The text, which cites the potential damage to Brazilian trade relations if the blockade is sustained, points out that Brazilian diplomacy “does not demonstrate respect for its own commitment as a signatory to the Convention, nor does it demonstrate respect for the duties, principles and objectives established in its own Federal Constitution.” 

Environmental agents criticize license for hotel construction inside coastal protected area

A superintend, named by the minister, authorized the construction

Credit: Edwiges Lopes Tavares/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY-SA 4.0

24 Nov 20

Environmental agents criticize license for hotel construction inside coastal protected area

IBAMA inspectors sent a technical note to the Federal Public Prosecution Office and to the Public Prosecution Office of the State of Bahia criticizing the authorization for the resumption of the construction of a luxury hotel in Praia do Forte (Forte Beach) authorized by Rodrigo Santos Alves, superintendent of the agency in the state. The endorsement annulled a previous decision by Ibama itself, which paralyzed the construction of a containment wall in the sand in front of the enterprise, at the risk of compromising the procreation of sea turtles on the site, as previously reported by the newspaper Estado de S. Paulo. A fine of R$ 7.5 million previously decreed by Ibama was also suspended.

The inspectors question the justifications given by Alves for the continuation and reaffirm the legitimacy of the previous inspection. “The entire team was unanimous in stating that the place where the wall was being built was a strip of beach sand. The materiality and authorship of the infraction are obvious, since upon arriving at the site of the intervention, the team from Ibama verified that the company was constructing irregularly and with very serious environmental impacts a containment wall on the beach sand”, says the technical note, to which the Estado de S. Paulo had access.

Appointed by the Minister of the Environment to the position, Rodrigo Santos Alves is also an entrepreneur and a real estate investor who works with luxury properties on the Brazilian coast.

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 environment