By VF - 24. September 2019
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro rallied against political correctness and advocated for deregulation in a speech on 24th September 2019 before the UN General Assembly in New York - a day which will have to be marked in history as the day when fascism took a grip on the UN.
“My country was very close to socialism, which led us to a situation of widespread corruption, serious economic recession, high crime rates and continuous ceaseless attack against family and religious values that are part and parcel of our traditions,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he has tried to reduce bureaucracy since coming into office earlier this year.
Bolsonaro, who spoke a day after the UN held the climate action summit - that also was more talk than action, has been criticized for promoting business interests over environmental concerns and for trying - like U.S. president Trump who spoke earlier - to tell the international community that he can and will do what he wants.
Jair Bolsonaro has been called “Captain Chainsaw” and stated earlier himself that he didn't mind to be called "Nero" due to his needs to exploit resources in the Amazon that come along with forests been setting ablaze to clear the land. Many see this as the impetus for the rocketing deforestation and ensuing fires in the rainforest this year. Accusations that Bolsonaro has waged an ecocide and outright genocide have already been made, but obviously the UN let him speak, while 10 Russian UN delegation members were refused entry to the USA and could not attend the sessions.
But there is another side to the story. The rainforest as well as the Brazilian bush- and grasslands is often burned to make way for cattle ranches, and much of the meat they produce is sold in other countries – Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of beef.
Apart from just following Donald Trump's tirades against Cuba, Venezuela, etc. and adding France, Germany and his predecessor Lula da Silva, the most important points of the extreme right-wing politician's speech were:
- He introduced a "new Brazil - a country that has come back from the brink of socialism".
- He refused that international conventions, laws, rights and rules could challenge his dictatorial "sovereignty" over Brazil. Like Trump he demanded in dictatorial manner from everybody the total respect for Brazil as nation. That has been already taken up by Indigenous First Nations in the Amazon, who likewise demand now their own sovereignty and reject Bolsonaro's rule with their call for full autonomy.
- He claimed to have the right to open up the Amazon Forest and stating paternalistically that he would bring the right development to Indignous peoples, who - as he admitted - lived in their homelands long before the Portuguese arrived.
- He claimed that under his new administration he had reduced violent crime, but fact is that in the first 6 month of 2019 already over 1,200 citizens have been killed by his paramilitary security forces. Among them indigenous leaders. The extrajudicial killings under Bolsonaro have spiralled out of bounds.
- He claimed that Indigenous leader Raoni [who has been proposed for a Nobel Prize] has been used by foreign entities to make demands for the Indigenous lands. But he himself read a letter allegedly written by an Indigenous farmers group that was set up to second his own plans and Bolsonaro brought his own Indigenous "leader" even into the General Assembly of the UN.
The whole speech was a slap into the face of the UN under Secretary-General António Guterres as well as the internationally agreed values and norms.
Brazil - President Addresses General Debate, 74th Session
Jair Messias Bolsonaro, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, addresses the general debate of the 74th Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 24 – 30 September 2019).
Addressing the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations Headquarters, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected the “sensationalist attacks” he said his country has received following a surge in fires occurring in the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro explained that “this time of the year, dry weather and winds favour both spontaneous and criminal fires.” He said, “it is also important to mention that indigenous and local populations also use fire as part of their culture and means of survival,” adding that “all countries have their issues. “
The Brazilian President said these perceived attacks from the “international media” have aroused "our patriotic sentiment.” He said it was “a fallacy to state that the Amazon is a world heritage; and it is a misconception, as scientists attest, to say that our forest is the lung of the world.”
Bolsonaro said “some countries, instead of helping, have followed the lies of the media and behaved disrespectfully, with a colonialist spirit.” He called on the United Nations not to accept “this mentality to return to these halls and corridors under any pretext” and I reiterated that “any initiative to help or support the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, or other biomes, must be treated in full respect of Brazilian sovereignty.”
More than 80,000 wildfires were reported this year all over the Brazilian territory. Jair Messias Bolsonaro was elected in October 2018. This was his first address to the General Assembly, where Brazil traditionally speaks first.
Deliberate drowning of Brazil's rainforest is worsening climate change
It isn't just Bolsonaro and the fires. Hydroelectric dams in the Amazon are submerging millions of trees, transforming huge carbon sinks into sources of planet-warming gases
In Balbina, a small town in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, the shoreline of a vast reservoir sparkles blue and a mild wind ruffles the water, lifting small whitecaps. Within a few months, fire will devastate vaste swathes of the forest, some not far from here, but the story I’ve come to investigate lies just below the water’s surface, where millions of trees have been drowned by a hydroelectric dam blocking the Uatumã river. The submerged jungle is no longer sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Instead, the rotting corpses of once-magnificent trees are belching out yet more greenhouse gases.
No wonder the Balbina dam is known by experts as “the worst hydroelectric power plant in the world”. And yet its environmental impact is worse than previously thought, as we discovered when we visited the region earlier this year to spend time with climate researchers. Their findings suggest that any dam built in tropical lowlands could be exacerbating the climate crisis, which is particularly alarming now that Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has promised to extract more of the Amazon’s resources, including hydroelectric power.
According to the latest World Resources Institute publication, over 12 million hectares of rainforest were destroyed in 2018 alone.
It is piquant that in 2015 "only" 10 million hectares of rainforest were destroyed and that in the same year at the World Climate Summit in Paris investments amounting to more than 5 billion US dollars were decided to protect the rainforests (source: https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/europa/in-die-aufforstung-des-regenwaldes-investieren-433750). After that, the destruction of the rainforest suddenly increased to over 16 million hectares and, despite these investments, is still far above the level of 2015.
Ambitious reforestation projects of just one million hectares over many years show the helplessness of our society. Fires caused by drought alone are already losing larger areas than we are currently reforesting.
Much of the lands of the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are unceded territory and the federal government of Brazil under Bolsonaro therefore does not have any rights. But exactly that is what Bolsonaro wants to change now with his neo-colonial moves.
Brazil will become for the international community and the Unitd Nations a make-it-or-break-it situation. If Bolsonaro will not be reigned in and restricted from persuing his burned-soil policy to grab Indigenous First Nation territories, other rogue states will follow and it will lead to many more civil and even international wars.