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Issue #1918      June 8, 2020

Amazon forest is being put on sale

In a secret recording of a ministerial meeting held on 22nd April, Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles stated that while people are distracted by the deaths from COVID-19, the Amazon forest should be put up for sale.

In the recording, Salles declared: “We need to make an effort while we are in this calm moment in terms of press coverage, because they are only talking about COVID, and run the cattle herd and change all the rules and simplify standards.”

The analogy of cattle herding is an apt one. The selling off of the Amazon Rainforest is being done in order to allow the use of that land (which is protected by strict environmental preservation laws) for the farming of cattle. Cattle exports generate 500 billion Brazilian Reals (BRL) (approx. A$137 billion) annually, which makes Brazil one of the largest producers of beef in the world, with exports reaching over 150 countries.

Following the leaked recording, the Brazilian offices of Greenpeace and World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) said in a joint statement that, “for the Minister of the Environment, more than 23,000 dead are an opportunity.” Additionally, WWF Brazil released a list of corporations that have been lobbying Salles to deregulate environmental restrictions on the Amazon.

The list included many well-known corporations such as Friboi, Pedigree, and Whiskas, who are represented by the Brazilian Animal Recycling Association (ABRA), and Avon, Natura, and O Boticário, who are represented by the Brazilian Association of the Personal Hygiene, Perfumery and Cosmetics Industry (ABIHPEC), among others.

Currently, Salles is being investigated for illicit enrichment. According to data compiled by Brazilian magazine Crusoé, the Minister of the Environment would have received 2.75 million BRL (approx. A$760,000) between 2014 and 2017. The information, published in the article entitled “The Minister of the millions” came to light after the São Paulo Public Ministry broke Salles’ bank secrecy.

The government’s environmental deregulation policies are yielding results. According to MapBiomas Alert project, who released their first Annual Deforestation Report on all Brazilian biomes, ninety-nine per cent of all deforestation in Brazil in 2019 was illegal – a total of 12,187 square kilometres of native vegetation lost.

The COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed more than 23,000 Brazilian lives cannot be used as a distraction. It’s a serious and sad moment for the entire globe. It has devastated lives, and now, in Brazil, it is being used as an opportunity to exchange nature for profit. This can not be allowed!

In addition to being the largest receptacle of biodiversity in the world, the Amazon rainforest is also home to hundreds of indigenous natives who are murdered daily in order to enrich and grow the wealth of the bourgeois. Capitalism once again shows its bloody claws and takes the future of our planet with it.

Next article – AWU Women Of Steel make history in feature documentary

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