How Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro has promoted 'the world’s greatest environmental crime story': report

How Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro has promoted 'the world’s greatest environmental crime story': report
Image via Creative Commons.

In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been a scathing critic of environmentalism — not unlike his American ally, former U.S. President Donald Trump, and other MAGA Republicans — while encouraging the use of fossil fuels, including coal, over green energy. Bolsonaro has made no secret of the fact that he believes climate change is a myth, and he doesn’t view deforestation in the Amazon as a problem.

But journalist Terrence McCoy, in an in-depth article published by the Washington Post on August 30, lays out some reasons why the destruction of the Amazon is an environmental disaster that Bolsonaro’s policies have encouraged.

“The violent and lawless erasure of the Amazon is perhaps the world’s greatest environmental crime story,” McCoy explains. “Scientists warn that the forest, seen as vital to averting catastrophic global warming, is at a tipping point. But in Brazil, home to about 60 percent of the Amazon, nearly one-fifth has already been destroyed. And virtually no one, law enforcement officials say, has been held accountable.”

READ MORE: Record deforestation pushing Amazon Rainforest toward 'the tipping point of no return': report

Bolsonaro, McCoy stresses, has treated deforesters in the Amazon “not as criminals, but as honest workers oppressed by authoritarian environmentalists.” And environmental inspector Ivan de Jesus Pereira de Araújo e Silva told the Post that under Bolsonaro, Brazil’s environmental agencies “have been shrunk so much.”

Bolsonaro is up for reelection in 2022, and his critics fear that his environmental policies will grow even worse if he wins a second term.

One of Bolsonaro’s left-wing critics in the United States is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In a column published on August 23, liberal Washington Post opinion writers Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman reported that Sanders had met with Brazilian activists who fear that even if he loses the 2022 presidential election in Brazil, Bolsonaro won’t accept defeat and will try to stage a coup d’état.

“Such fears have prompted Sanders and his staff to draft a resolution that would seek to get ahead of any such eventuality,” Sargent and Waldman reported. “It would express the view of the Senate that if Bolsonaro loses and refuses to step down, the United States will view it as an unacceptable outcome. The resolution — which we have viewed in draft form — declares that the United States will immediately recognize the election outcome that international monitors deem free and fair. And it warns that the United States will reevaluate its relationship with any government that assumes power through undemocratic means, including a military coup. It says this could imperil future U.S. aid.”

READ MORE: How Brazil’s military has played a role in the destruction of the Amazon

During an interview, Sanders told Sargent and Waldman, “It is absolutely imperative that the U.S. Senate make it clear, through a resolution, that we support democracy in Brazil. We look forward to a free and fair election.”

In mid-August, Brazilian pollster Datafolha found that Bolsonaro’s left-wing rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had a 15 percent lead over him — and Sanders believes that Bolsonaro, like Trump and his MAGA allies in the U.S., is quite capable of trying to steal a presidential election.

Sanders told Sargent and Waldman, “What we are seeing all across the world are massive attacks and rollbacks to democracy…. where people are giving up on democracy and moving toward authoritarianism. We have groups that have done that right here in the United States.”

READ MORE: 'The genocide of his people is complete': Last member of remote Brazilian tribe found dead

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