Brazil: Bolsonaro under pressure to preserve the Amazon

Brésil: Bolsonaro sous pression pour préserver l’Amazonie

The Face of the pressure insistent investors calling for “results” in the fight against the deforestation of the Amazon, the brazilian government seems to have changed tone, but he will have to go to acts to convince.

The mere fact that the vice-president Hamilton Mourao has pledged Wednesday to “reduce to an acceptable minimum” deforestation and fires is already a small revolution.

There is a little less than a year, when the international community, the president of france Emmanuel Macron in the head, was moved to see entire regions of the amazon rainforest, the “common good” of mankind, go up in smoke, its brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro was robbed.

He had preferred to deny the problem and cry out to a conspiracy “colonialist” threatening the sovereignty of Brazil.

But at the end of June, when investment funds from Europe, Asia and South America who administer 4000 billion dollars have threatened to withdraw their investments, their arguments hard economic trébuchants have had a different echo.

“The fact that the pressure has to come from investors and not of heads of States is a game-changer,” says André Perfeito, an economist with the consulting firm Nekton.

These investors have been heard last week by the government during a videoconference and the vice-president Mourao has recognized that words were not enough.

“At no time they have committed to contribute funds, they want to see results, a reduction of the deforestation”, he declared at the end of this meeting.

“No concrete plan”

The threat of the investors is taken very seriously by a government that will be more than ever in need of foreign currency to boost the economy has been severely hit by the coronavirus.

“Brazil is counting on investments from abroad to prepare for the exit from the crisis, with large building sites of infrastructure, including water treatment,” says Rubens Barbosa, former Brazilian ambassador to the United States and director of the Institute of international relations and foreign trade (IRICE).

Several former Finance ministers and former presidents of Brazil’s central Bank said this week in an open letter that the absence of efforts against global warming “could have consequences much more severe than the pandemic”.

The defenders of the environment does not make a lot of illusions in the face of change of address of a government willing to open up indigenous territories and protected nature reserves with mining activities or agricultural — those that encourage deforestation.

“What is the concrete plan, with what budget? Beyond the rhetoric, we do not see the slightest sign of a real change of policy,” said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Observatory of the Climate, a collective of NGOS fighting against the global warming.

And the numbers are already alarming, with a deforestation record in the first half, 25% higher than the first six months of last year.

In may, the government sent the army into the Amazon to fight the fires that were ravaging each dry season. But the vice-president Mourao has recognized that these operations had started “too late”.

Result, Brazil has experienced its worst month of June since 13 years for forest fires. Fires are often caused by farmers practicing slash and burn farming on the deforested areas to grow crops or graze livestock.

“Against the current”

However, the minister of Agriculture Tereza Cristina has assured recently that Brazil had “no need” to deforest the Amazon in order to develop the immense agricultural potential which makes it one of the granaries of the world.

This minister, who is fiercely defending the interests of the giants of the agro-food brazilian knows that his industry depends on exports to countries that are increasingly reluctant to buy products from the deforestation.”

A study published Thursday by the american journal Science has shown that a fifth of the exports of soy and beef from Brazil to the european Union came from the land deforested illegally.

“Brazil cannot afford to isolate itself, it is necessary that it adapts to the changes of perception of the world on environmental issues”, warns Rubens Barbosa. “We can’t talk about a threat to our sovereignty. The government Bolsonaro has signed of his own free will the trade agreement between Mercosur and the european Union, which contains a chapter dedicated to sustainable development”, he recalls.

“The world has changed, but the government Bolsonaro continues to swim against the current,” says Marcio Astrini.

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