The Amazon region is threatened by the activities of agribusiness companies after the electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro. The future president appointed Tereza Cristina, leader of the Parliamentary Front for Agriculture, as Minister of Agriculture.
This parliamentary group, backed by agribusiness companies, has promoted several initiatives in Congress. Among them we highlight the use of pesticides; the cultivation of transgenics; and the exploitation of natural resources in protected areas in the Amazon. By having the Brazilian territory most of the Amazon, Bolsonaro will threaten the preservation of biodiversity and indigenous communities.
The region has a hugeimportance for various reasons: it has a great diversity of natural resources (water, minerals, oil, wood, among others); mitigates the effects of climate change through the absorption of carbon emissions; and represents a vital space for indigenous communities. For these reasons, the Amazon rainforest is a geographic space that needs to be preserved for the survival of the human race. In case of carrying out the exploitation of the natural riches of the Amazon, the Bolsonaro government will face strong opposition.
Currently the Brazilian government protects the Amazon region through the designation of national parks, protected forests, ecological corridors, among other spaces. Under this regime, protected areas receive government funding for the construction of public works and the provision of services focused on the preservation of communities and ecosystems. However, cattle ranching and soy cultivation on large areas of land have contributed to its deforestation. The Bolsonaro government will have to make use of changes in the law to exploit the natural resources located in protected areas, since the Constitution statesstipulated that protected areas can only be altered through the approval of a law.
Despite having gained a wide advantage over Haddad, Bolsonaro won only 52 of the 520 seats in Congress; with which, it will have to negotiate with the other parties in order to exploit the resources of the Amazon. Congressmen from the Social Liberal Partythey think rely on the parties of various political groups (Catholic, arms and agribusiness). Thus, these initiatives will be supported by the most conservative sectors of Brazilian society, which will undoubtedly try to create a climate of fear in order to get society's endorsement of the reforms. If the left-wing parties do not do a grassroots work with the population, conservatism will gain strength in society, strengthening xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.
Social polarization will affect the indigenous communities of the Amazon that constantly suffer discrimination from the middle class. Due to the abandonment of the Brazilian State, indigenous communities suffer from illiteracy, malnutrition and insecurity, among other problems. To solve these ills, the Brazilian government would have to boost social spending through the provision of basic services, in addition to guaranteeing the protection of the land. Without protection of their ancestral lands, the indigenous people cannot survive as their way of life is intimately linked to nature.
On the other hand, agribusiness activities, by destroying the ecosystems of the Amazon, will continue to increase carbon emissions. In terms of carbon emission, Brazil haskept in seventh place on a global scale as the government has been failing to fulfill its commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement. In the agreement, the government pledged to reduce deforestation and increase the number of protected areas. Under the Bolsonaro government, climate change will be aggravated by activities that threaten the environment such as soy monoculture, open-pit mining and the installation of large electric dams in the Amazon.
These activities will cause the destruction of part of the Amazon and increase the temperature of the planet. Among the repercussions of this phenomenon, we find desertification, the extinction of species, the alteration of the water cycle and natural disasters, among others. By depending on nature, the human race is threatened by climate change, so that the preservation of the Amazon is key to being able to reverse global warming. In fact, future President Jair Bolsonaro recently mentioned thatwill evaluate if Brazil will abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, but has not ensured the preservation of the Amazon.
Furthermore, the response of international organizations to Bolsonaro's policy would not be as strong as expected. To combat climate change, the leaders of several countries have signed the Paris Climate Agreement in which they committed to reducing the emission of carbon dioxide. But the agreement is a dead letter, as it does not oblige governments to apply strict regulations or impose sanctions for non-compliance. In this context, the Bolsonaro government would leave the door open for transnational companies to exploit the natural riches of the Amazon.
No less important is that the survival of indigenous communities is at risk, since they represent only 0.4% of the total population. Bolsonarodeclared, in his electoral campaign, that he was not going to give them one more square centimeter of land. It should be remembered that indigenous communities have been continuously exterminated throughout the history of Brazil. Since colonial times, the communities were subjected to the prolonged slavery of Portugal and to this day they are persecuted for opposing extractive activities. The resistance of the communities will now increase with the Bolsonaro government, which will not hesitate to intensify the militarization of the Amazon region.
The Amazon has already been the object of a strong presence of the Brazilian Armed Forces due to problems of drug trafficking, human trafficking and violence resulting from extreme poverty. Currently, the Military Command of the Amazon regularly carries outexercises military personnel (Curaretinga, Curare and Relâmpago, among others) on the northern border of Brazil in order to confront organized crime, according to the Brazilian government. The Armed Forces, by continuously training in the Amazon jungle, have a deep knowledge of the territory, the indigenous communities and the climatic conditions. With this, the army has managed to put the resistance of the indigenous communities at bay and deprive them of their territories. With Bolsonaro, military operations will increase to deprive communities of their territories.
The triumph of Jair Bolsonaro constitutes a setback for Latin America. Bolsonaro's will be a government that will support the destruction of nature, the dispossession of land from indigenous communities and the criminalization of social protest. It will be necessary for the Brazilian population to mobilize to stop the reforms that the Social Liberal Party intends to carry out. Otherwise, Brazilians will see how the natural resources of the Amazon are privatized.
By Ulises Noyola Rodríguez
Collaborator of the Center for Research on Globalization.