Brazil: capitalist “development” destroys and burns the Amazon

The images and news we receive daily are devastating. Thousands of acres are on fire, product of programmed burnings that went out of control. Since Bolsonaro took power, the Amazon is rapidly losing immense terrains of rainforest at the hands of capitalist “development”. Just in the last month, over 2.200 square kilometres of rainforest were cut down, 280% more than in July 2018. (BBC, 20/08/2019)

Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency with defending the exploitation of natural resources and deforestation to turn the immense Amazon into crop and pasture land. That is why there is a sort of license to deforest since he took office, which is expressed in a drastic reduction of state resources for forestry care and control (the annual budget of Ibama, the main federal forestry agency, fell to US$23,57 million, a quarter of its previous budget  – BBC, 29/07/2019); the transfer of the main functions of the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supplies; the transfer of the demarcation of native lands from the National Indian Foundation to the Ministry itself; and the government´s declarations in favour of relaxing current laws to open the path to depredation.

Gold stained with blood and barbarism

In a few months, the Amazon has suffered more devastation than ever. According to different reports of the native communities of the region, environmentalist organizations and even government workers themselves (through anonymous reports), the advance of illegal mining in the first semester of this year is unbelievable. The mining projects get installed, with a higher or lower technological level, they loot natural resources, destroying and polluting everything in their path. They leave “scars” in the jungle, rivers with mercury that contaminates the water and the fish that the local communities eat, elevating levels of contamination and deaths among the people.

It is almost impossible to calculate this voracious advance in numbers because it is mostly illegal, but satellite pictures and reports of local inhabitants reveal a catastrophe of proportions never before seen. Just in the Yanomami territory, there are 10.000 workers according to the reports of the local community.

Our lives are worth more than their profits

A million people of native communities live in the Amazonian jungle, which is also is the richest home of biodiversity in the world, where up to a tenth of all the species of plants and animals live. It is called the “lung of the planet” for its immense capacity of absorbing carbon dioxide, which, if not absorbed, remains in the atmosphere, contributing to the rising global warming. But none of this matters to rulers like Bolsonaro or the businessmen of ecocidal corporations for whom he governs.

The capitalist system, in its stage of social and environmental devastation, does not even forgive the Amazon that is on fire today. The accumulation of profit for the richest 1% of our planet puts humanity itself at risk, and environmental campaigns are not enough, they blame the individual responsibility of our daily acts on the care and respect of the environment. The Amazon rainforest and the entire world are in danger because we live in a system that feeds barbarism against the great majorities.

Without socialism there is no solution

What lit the Amazon on fire is a productive matrix based on the extraction of natural resources to increase capitalist profits and produce at a lower cost, ignoring the environmental consequences. This is an urgent issue to debate, even with progressive and leftist sectors. Those who defend the highly contaminant and preying branches of production in the name of defending jobs or the wealth of poor countries are making a mistake. We must reorganize the economy and change the priorities. Without the capitalist thirst for profit we can produce and redistribute resources, maintaining jobs and even increasing them.

In light of the current catastrophe in the Amazon, we say:

• Prohibition of deforestation and burning of trees and native forests.

• Prohibition of contaminating mining of gold and other metals.

• Recovery and increase of the budget for the areas that control and care for forestation.

• Declaration of an environmental emergency and using the necessary resources to attack the catastrophe.

• Approval of a plan of remediation in charge of the corporations that generated this debacle so they pay for the cost of the devastation.

• Prohibition of extractive production developments in the areas affected by the fire.

In the path of advancing toward anti-capitalist measures to place the management of natural resources in the hands of the State with the control of native communities and workers, an agrarian reform to distribute lands and put them in the hands of those who work them.

We must implement a productive model with the smallest possible environmental impact and at the service of satisfying the needs of the 99% of the people that suffer the consequences of capitalists´ businesses.

It is a lie that environmental depredation and destruction is an unavoidable consequence of any productive model, it is in capitalism that a handful of capitalists concentrate the riches of humanity, causing destruction and death. That is why we must plan production based on social needs and not those of the market, without depredation, with democratic participation and an eco-socialist perspective.

Socio-environmental rights are nothing more than the right to life, that is why we are eco-socialist, we organize and fight every day.

Verónica O´Kelly