“Days of Fire” ravage Amazonia
Aug 23, 2019
Fires are ravaging the Amazon rainforest as never before, and the situation is especially grave in Brazil. Most of the fires were set to make room for yet more cattle feedlots and industrial soybean farms. Brazilian President Bolsonaro has been emboldening the corporate arsonists.
72,843 forest fires have been registered in Brazil so far this year – an 83 percent increase over last year. Smoke from the fires, which have been raging for weeks, is even darkening the skies of São Paulo, 2,700 kilometers away.
The drought that has hit large parts of South America is not solely to blame for the extent of the fires. The current disaster is largely man-made and being driven by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been in office since January. Bolsonaro has spoken out for the exploitation of the Amazon rainforest and even given himself the nickname “Captain Chainsaw” (capitão motosserra).
Cattle ranchers and other landholders were delighted to accept his invitation and organized “Days of Fire”. Forest areas are first logged for valuable timber, then fires are set to clear the land for feedlots or vast soybean farms.
The destruction of the rainforest and the fires not only have a major impact on the climate, but also on indigenous people and other inhabitants of Amazonia.
The international community has been slow to respond to the ecological disaster. The issue was discussed at the G7 summit and Brazil was offered financial aid to fight the fires, which Bolsonaro angrily rejected as “colonialist and imperialist”. Germany and Norway have announced that they will no longer provide financial support for climate protection projects in Brazil through the Amazon Fund for Forest Conservation and Climate.
But that will not be enough: The EU has just concluded a free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries, including Brazil. The EU member states still need to ratify the deal, however. Ireland and Luxembourg have already made it clear that they will not do so.
We call on the EU to cancel its free trade agreement and stop importing meat, soybeans, iron and steel products from Brazil.