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It’s not time to wash your hands, but to get to work

Greta Thunberg #FridaysForFuture FridaysForFuture

The environmental catastrophe that devastated Mozambique last month is only an indication of what is to come. This is not the time to wash your hands, but to put them to work. As did the young Swedish Greta Thunberg, 16, who set off a global climate student movement. The #FridaysForFuture seed was released in August last year. Greta decided to protest alone in front of the Swedish parliament against the lack of initiative of politicians and businessmen in the fight against climate change. But soon a crowd followed: only on March 15, 1.6 million students from 125 countries went to the streets to protest.

We must engage and contribute to movements that take care of our planet. There is a lot at stake and all sectors of society must have an active voice. The current president, however, extinguished at once 30 councils and commissions whose function was precisely to mediate the dialogue between the State and society. This makes it even more important to hold events such as Camp Terra Livre (ATL), the country’s largest indigenous assembly, which is starting today. They are fundamental spaces for the exercise of democracy, debate and citizenship. The meeting does not receive a cent of public money, it is fully funded by indigenous and indigenist organizations, and by donations. The struggle of the forest peoples is also ours. Take another example from Greta Thunberg: she donated the € 25,000 she earned from the Prix Liberté, a French prize given to personalities dedicated to the struggle for freedom and human rights to NGOs fighting the effects of climate change. You can also help ATL’s virtual crowdfunding.

Indigenous peoples do not promote the well-being of the planet only in regions far from the great centers. The Guarani of Itakupe Village, or Sol Nascente, in the Jaraguá Peak, in the North Zone of São Paulo, have been doing important work for five years: the revitalization of the region’s springs. It has been a year since this work has been expanded, with efforts made by indigenous people to clean and recover lakes. The funding also came from an online fundraising campaign. “The idea is to continue to make lakes until all the families in the six villages, about 800 people, take their livelihood from them,” says chieftain Matheus Wera. The Jaraguá Indigenous Land is embedded in the largest metropolis in Brazil. In 2015, a decree recognized the possession of land by the Guarani. But to be formalized, the document needs the homologation of the President of the Republic.

The Jaraguá State Park is an oasis in São Paulo. It is in the interest of the entire population of the city that he be cared for. The dismantling that has been promoted in the Ministry of the Environment, whose holder, Ricardo Salles, was indicated by agribusiness, is a hindrance. In addition to draining the National Environment Council (Conama), making it difficult for civil entities to participate in its decisions, the minister dismissed 21 of the 27 regional superintendents of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), weakening even more the ministry’s top inspection agency. Last week, Salles also increased military participation in key management posts. Nothing against this, at first, if they were not unfamiliar with the subject. Either civil society seeks inspiration in the examples of Greta Thunberg, the organizers of the ATL and Guarani of Jaraguá or it will be a mere spectator of the devastation of the planet.

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