‘Exterminator of the future’: Brazil’s Bolsonaro denounced for environmental assault

Activist and politician Marina Silva alerts Brazils rainforest protections being destroyed but vows we cant let that happen

Jair Bolsonaro is transforming Brazil into an” exterminator of the future”, the activist and politician Marina Silva has advised, as she and seven other former environment pastors denounced the far-right president’s assault on rainforest protections.

The eight former ministers- who served governments in the different regions of the political spectrum over virtually 30 years- advised on Wednesday that Bolsonaro’s government was systematically trying to destroy Brazil’s environmental protection policies.

” We are watching them deconstruct everything we’ve put together ,” said Jose Sarney Filho, who served as environmental minister under the rightwing chairmen Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Michel Temer.

” We’re talking about biodiversity, life, woodlands … the Amazon has an incredibly important role in global warming. It’s the world’s air conditioner; it regulates rain for the entire continent .”

Silva, the environment minister under Lula, said:” What is happening is a dismantling, taking education and the environmental issues and making them ideological issues .”

She said the government risked” transforming our country into the exterminator of the future- and we can’t let that happen “.

Bolsonaro has been severely blamed at home and abroad for his claims that environmental protections hinder Brazil’s economic growth. He is a close ally of the powerful agribusiness hall and during his campaign said that if he were elected he would not apportion “one more centimeter” of land to indigenous reserves.

Izabella Teixeira, who led Brazil’s negotiating team at the Paris climate agreement as environment minister under the leftwing president Dilma Roussef, said that Bolsonaro’s policies were already damaging the country’s international standing.

She said:” Being a climate-change denier is very serious because it’s a geopolitical issue. The signals the government is now sending against the international consensus is compromising our credibility- not to mention our image .”

In a speech on Wednesday, Bolsonaro said that he would remove environmental protections in a part of the forested coast south of Rio de Janeiro in order to created” a Cancun of Brazil .” Bolsonaro received a $2,500 -fine from environment police for illegal fishing in the reserve in 2012.

The ex-ministers highlighted the “depletion” of the environment ministry’s powers, including stripping it of jurisdiction over the country’s water agency and forestry service and also eliminating three secretaries, including the secretary on climate change.

Bolsonaro’s administration has also transferred the authority to allocate new indigenous lands from the indigenous affairs agency to the agriculture ministry. At one point Bolsonaro was considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

” The environment defenders have their hands tied and the most difficult performers- the polluters, the agribusiness- have a pistol in theirs ,” said Carlos Minc, environment minister under Lula da Silva.” I’d say it’s become the ministry of anti-environment .”

Bolsonaro’s environment minister Ricardo Salles responded with a statement in which he accused previous administrations of “poor management” and alleged that there was a campaign to besmirch Brazil’s reputation.

” What is damaging Brazil’s image is the permanent and well-orchestrated libel campaign by NGOs and supposed experts, within and outside of Brazil ,” he wrote.

Salles has called climate change a” secondary issue “ and said environmental fines were “ideological”. Within his first weeks in office, he issued a three-month suspension on partnerships between the government and NGOs and later called worshipped environmental activist Chico Mendes” irrelevant “.

Earlier this week, Salles canceled a journey to the UK, Norway and Germany. The Folhapress news agency reported that the minister backed out of the journey because of a letter signed by 602 scientists that called for European businesses to do merely do business with Brazil on the condition they met commitments to reduce deforestation and indigenous conflicts.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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