point of view

The trail of destruction

O rastro da destruição/ deforestation/ deforestación

Someone turned on the chainsaw and dumped mercury into the river, but clandestine deforestation and mining crimes have accomplices – and traditional peoples are masters at following trails. During the 15th Free Terra Camp (ATL), the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) presented the report “Complicity in Destruction”, which lists 27 companies from the European Union (EU), Canada and the United States that buy products from suppliers fined for deforestation in Brazil. On the same day, the scientific journal “Science” published a letter signed by 602 scientists, Apib and the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab), which calls on the EU to condition trade with the country to meet socio-environmental criteria.

No wonder, the presidents of the Federal Chamber and the Senate have already agreed to think of a way to return FUNAI to the Ministry of Justice, one of the main demands of the indigenous movement. There is a smell of future economic sanctions in the air; especially because recently the World Resources Institute (WRI) presented its new report and Brazil appears as the country that lost the largest area of native rainforest last year. More than 1.4 million hectares. Traditional peoples see the planet as a great organism. And everyone needs to do their part to keep it healthy, including when it comes to Economics.

The Apib report identified and examined the commercial operations of Brazilian companies responsible for increasing illegal deforestation and mining with European, American and Canadian companies between 2017 and 2019. “These companies account for the increasing number of illegal deforestation and numerous human rights violations against indigenous peoples and other rural communities, “says Lindomar Terena, the association’s executive coordinator. These foreign companies act as receivers. And impunity is the fuel for destruction.

An example listed in the report: in the last two years, the Brazilian company Benevides Madeiras alone exported almost 400 tons of wood to the French Guillemette & Cie and Groupe Rougier. The owner of the firm took a fine of $ 2.2 million for illegal deforestation, but came out in profit. “If these companies continue to support Brazilian companies, they must also take the blame for the destruction of tropical forests and the abuse of indigenous peoples,” argues Eloy Terena, Apib’s legal counsel. The Ibama fine industry is fake news created by the government. In the real world, only 0.06% of the penalties applied by the agency were paid. And the information came from Ricardo Salles himself, minister of the Environment. Of the R$ 154 billion in fines applied in the period from 2012 to 2019, only about R$ 100 million were paid. If such an industry really existed it would be highly profitable, but for those who break the law.

Therefore, in the letter published in Science, scientists and indigenous peoples demand that Europeans condition trade relations with Brazil to the continuity of the criteria established in the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, it calls on the EU to improve methods of tracking and monitoring raw materials from deforested regions or where there are agrarian conflicts, and consult with indigenous and local communities to define socio-environmental criteria for this trade. The text also points out that the halt of deforestation has economic benefits, since forests are essential to regulate rainfall patterns, on which agribusiness depends: “The restoration of degraded lands and improved productivity could meet the growing agricultural demand for at least two decades without the need for further deforestation. “

According to satellite data compiled by the Mapbiomas project, the Amazon lost 18% of the forest area between 1985 and 2017. It is the equivalent of 2.6 states of São Paulo. “Brazil, which is home to one of the last great forests on the planet, is currently in trade negotiations with its second largest trading partner, the European Union. We urge the EU to take this critical opportunity to ensure that Brazil protects human rights and the environment,”said the letter published in Science. We just have to be willing: thanks to indigenous peoples, we know who are responsible for this crime of harming the planet.

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