Crimes in the Amazon

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Jair Bolsonaro has become an ecocide with his retrograde mining and extractive policies

We are all mourning the probable murder of the renowned indigenist Bruno Pereira and the English journalist Dom Phillips. Similar crimes are frequently occurring in the Amazon, especially against indigenous leaders as a result of the total disregard with which the president treats the environmental issue. He stupidly denies the most serious scientific data and threatens indigenous reserves, handing them over to national and foreign mining companies and illegal mining.

The dismantling, carried out by former Minister Ricardo Salles, of the main bodies protecting the forest, indigenous lands and monitoring the uncontrolled advance of agribusiness in the virgin forest, further aggravated the situation.

Pope Francis himself warned at the Synod Dear Amazon “that the future of humanity and the Earth is linked to the future of the Amazon; for the first time, it manifests itself with such clarity that challenges, conflicts and emerging opportunities in a territory are the dramatic expression of the moment that the survival of planet Earth and the coexistence of all humanity are going through”. in the encyclical Fratelli tutti (2021) warns: “we are in the same boat, either we all save ourselves or nobody is saved” (32).

These are serious words, disregarded by the large predatory corporations, because, if taken seriously, they should change the means of production, consumption and disposal, something they are not willing to do. They prefer profit to safeguarding human and earthly life.

Let's consider some general data about the Amazon biome that is unknown to many: it covers an area of ​​8.129.057 km2 with nine countries: Brazil (67%) Peru (13%), Bolivia (11%), Colombia (6%), Ecuador (2%), Venezuela (1%), Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana (0,15) . There are 37.731.569 inhabitants, 2,8 million of which are indigenous peoples from 390 different peoples speaking 240 languages, from the rich matrix of 49 linguistic branches, an unparalleled phenomenon in the history of world linguistics.

There are three Amazonian rivers: the visible one, from the surface, the aerial one, the so-called “flying rivers” (each treetop 15 meters long produces between 800 and 1000 liters of humidity) that will carry rain to the Cerrado, to the south , to the north of Argentina; the third invisible is the river “rez do Chão” (not to be confused with the tourist site Rez do Chão), an underground river that flows under the current Amazon.

The Amazon River, according to the latest research, is the longest river in the world at 7.100 kilometers, whose sources are found in Peru, between the Mismi (5.669 m) and Kcahuich (5.577 m) mountains south of the city of Cusco. It is also by far the most voluminous, with an average flow rate of 200.000 cubic meters per second.

It is important to know that geologically the proto-Amazon for millions of years formed a gigantic gulf open to the Pacific. South America was still linked to Africa. 70 million years ago, the Andes began to rise and for thousands and thousands of years they blocked the exit of their waters to the Pacific. The entire Amazonian depression remained a watery landscape until it forced an exit to the Atlantic, as it currently is.[1]

The greatest genetic heritage is offered in the Amazon. As one of the best scholars Eneas Salati used to say: “In a few hectares of the Amazon rainforest there is a greater number of species of plants and insects than in all the flora and fauna of Europe”.[2]

We need to affirm, against the president's arrogance, that the entire Amazonian biome does not belong only to Brazil and the other nine Amazonian countries, it constitutes a Common Good of the Earth and humanity. From the astronauts' point of view, this is evident: from the Moon or from their spacecraft, Earth and humanity form a single entity. Brazil belongs to this whole.

Now, in the planetary phase, we are all in the same and unique Common House. The time of nations is passing; now is the time of Earth, administered by a multipolar and organic body to attend to the problems of the only Common House and its inhabitants. The pandemic has shown the urgency of global governance. We have to organize ourselves to guarantee the means that will sustain our life and that of nature. Nobody owns the Earth. She is our greatest common good. Everyone has the right to walk through it, as Immanuel Kant already stated in 1795 in his book For perpetual peace. As the Amazon is part of the Earth, no one can consider what is a Good of all and for all as their own.

Brazil, at most, manages the Brazilian part (67%) and does so irresponsibly. If the Amazon were completely cut down, all of southern Brazil to northern Argentina and Uruguay would slowly turn into a savannah and even, in some places, a desert. Hence the vital importance of this multinational biome.

Bolsonaro's irresponsibility is such that world jurists are considering accusing him of ecocide, a crime recognized by the UN in 2006 and take it to the proper court. To cut down the forest is to deregulate the rainfall regime. Water is a natural, vital, common and irreplaceable good. Without water there is no life. Bolsonaro makes himself an ecocide with his retrograde mining policies and the extraction of forest riches. Difficult times await him and he deserves them, for the evils he has committed against life.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian and philosopher. Author, among other books, of Man: Satan or good angel (Record).

 

Notes


[1] Cf.Soli, H. Amazon, fundamentals of the ecology of the largest region of tropical forests. Voices, Petrópolis, 1985, p. 15-17.

[2] Salati, E. Amazon: development, integration, ecology. Brasiliense, Sao Paulo, 1983.

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