30/10/2018 – The policies proposed by Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, threaten a human rights and environmental catastrophe with global implications. Brazil is already the deadliest country in the world in which to defend your land, with at least 57 people murdered last year, 25 of them in three massacres. Eighty percent of these died defending land in the Amazon rainforest.
Against this backdrop Bolsonaro proposes to open up indigenous territories to mining and other economic activities; relax environmental legislation and protections, abolish the Ministry of the Environment, crack down on civil society and to relax laws related to gun ownership, especially in rural areas.
Together, these polices are a manifesto for violence and deforestation, and will hand the already powerful agribusiness lobby – the ‘Ruralistas’ – a carte blanche to expand land grabbing at the expense of Brazil’s most vulnerable people. The Amazon rainforest and its most effective defenders – the people who live in it and depend on it – will face an onslaught comparable with the European and US colonisations of the past centuries – policies which are now matters of national shame.
In the wake of the IPCC’s dire warnings earlier this month that we have just twelve years to avert a climate catastrophe, the UN Secretary General said that “…we need to end deforestation and plant billions of trees.” Flying in the face of that, Bolsonaro’s proposed policies are a declaration of war against not just Brazil’s population and environment, but on the world’s ability to mitigate climate change.
As an international community of NGOs, we call on President Bolsonaro to use his position not just as a national leader, but as a global leader, to fulfil Brazil’s global responsibilities to protect human rights, democracy and the environment, and to honour the agreements and conventions it has signed up to Governments and the international business community must work to do the same.
We stand in solidarity with our NGOs and civil society partners in Brazil who are fighting daily to protect human lives, as well as the vast and vital habitats in which they reside. And we pledge to renew our efforts to support and bolster their efforts.
Our message to the President is simple: We are watching – and you begin building your legacy now. We urge you to make it one that leaves Brazil – and the world – a more just, more sustainable and more equal place than you found it.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
International Land Coalition- América Latina y el Caribe
International Service for Human Rights
Latin America Working Group