Within three years of the election of Jair Bolsonaro, the Smoke Signal – Socio-environmental Monitor prepared a timeline of highlights from the dismantling of the socio-environmental governance and deforestation reduction policies in Brazil;
The timeline presented here is a selection out of the nearly 450 entries currently in our monitoring system. The monitoring shows that the wave of new legislation, decrees, and regulations enacted in this period is a political project related to land use in Brazil that was implemented at the start of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential term.
Titled Backwards with Bolsonaro – 30 years in 3, a wordplay that alludes to the famous slogan of Brazilian developmentalist President Juscelino Kubicheck (1956-1961), who promised Brazil would progress 50 years in 5, this report narrates how budget cuts to the Ministry of the Environment, the gag law and the persecution of the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity (ICMbio)’s employees, the pressure for the approval of the Marco Temporal thesis (time limit framework for indigenous land demarcation) through the Supreme Court, the attacks on research and science, the blackout in environmental fines and the criminalization of activists, government personnel, indigenous peoples and community leaders translated into historical records of deforestation, criminal fires, land grabbing and land related violence.
According to our survey, the impacts go far beyond the reforms voiced by the (now former) environment minister Salles at the now infamous cabinet’s meeting in March 2020, becoming a priority agenda in the agreements with the powerful and notoriously corrupt voting bloc known as “Centrão” in the National Congress. The timeline shows that when congressman Arthur Lira and senator Rodrigo Pacheco took over the presidency of the houses, bills related to the use of land and the licensing of large projects began to be processed at an accelerated pace, with the blessing of the President.
Rebeca Lerer, Smoke Signal Monitor’s project lead, argues that the measures adopted by the Bolsonaro government, added by the legislative package approved in Congress in the last three years, represent a 30-year setback for socio-environmental governance in Brazil, laboriously constructed since the 1988 Constitution. “Bravado and fake news are distracting, and approval rates may be historically low, but the fact is that the agenda related to predatory occupation and concentration of land ownership is a priority for the Bolsonaro government. In this, he has been very efficient”, she explains.
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