Victory for the Amazon and Our Planet
Bolsonaro the rainforest destroyer ousted
I love Brazil. Of all the countries I’ve been fortunate enough to visit, Brazil is at the top of my list of favorites. I like the colorful culture, and even the grittiness of places like Rio and the massive favela shanty towns that are worlds and societies unto themselves. However, the biggest draw is the rich Earth. The second time I headed into the Amazon Forest, it felt as though I was coming home. I can’t explain it; it was just a sense of familiarity and comfort.
For the past several years I have carried a constant background sadness knowing that Brazilian president Bolsonaro was supporting aggressive destruction of the rainforest to appease corporate interests and greed. Once a globally important absorber of carbon emissions, in recent years the Amazon has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide due to the breakneck pace of deforestation. Images of lush habitat razed and aflame literally burned my psyche and I can only imagine how heartbreaking it has been for people who live there and love the amazing place.
Well, in a wonderful, and rather surprising development, on Sunday, Bolsonaro lost his re-election bid. The new president-elect (and former president a dozen years ago), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made climate change action and curbing deforestation among his top campaign planks and pledges.
In his post-election speech Lula stated, “Brazil and the planet need a living Amazon; a standing tree is worth more than tons of illegally extracted timber, a river of clean water is worth more than all the gold extracted at the cost of mercury that kills the fauna and puts human life at risk…When an Indigenous child dies because of the greed of predators, a part of humanity dies with it.” He also said, “Instead of being world leaders in deforestation, we want to be world champions in facing up to the climate crisis and in socio-economic development.”
Lula’s victory is also a very positive sign for the advancement of progressive democracy. His victory is seen as consolidation of a new “pink tide” in Latin America, with left-leaning elected governments now in place in Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Though these administrations are still caught up in the economic growth mania, they are far more open to environmental regulation and social justice policies. Some are claiming that this election result is a demonstration of progressive forces in Brazil reclaiming their democracy against great odds driven by corporations, big polluters, and imperialist interests.
Lula’s administration will have its hands full given the vastness of the country, entrenched and corrupt environmental criminals illegally logging and mining and burning the Amazon to make way for cattle (so people can get cheap fast food hamburgers – just sayin’), and the deep political and economic divides in the nation. That said, under Lula’s previous presidency, there was an unprecedented reduction in deforestation as well as poverty in Brazil.
The Amazon has been called the lungs of the Earth due to its massive roll in pulling in carbon dioxide and releasing out oxygen. May she heal, and once again breathe. Viva Lula and the irreplaceable Amazon rainforest!
PS, here is a footnote on what “pink tide” refers to.
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