Floods in Rio Grande do Sul

Image: Hilmi Işılak
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By SANDRA BITENCOURT*

Covering suffering and the absence of those responsible

It's a tragedy. We live in a historic moment. But it is not a natural phenomenon. Haunted, we look at the consequences of choices, usually driven by greed, that harm the environment, deny the climate crisis and even use it as a far-right political platform.

In the midst of these murky waters we have the liquidation of intelligence and the structure of the State, we contemplate the destruction of natural barriers and protection (deforestation, silting), we have licensing of enterprises without environmental care, we have low investment in defense and control systems, we have setback in legislation, we even have new laws to advance and plant in environmental protection areas.

And as always happens in a flood, filth and rats hide in the mud. What coverage does journalism provide? And it does so through the courage and dedication of its professionals... But the companies' line is to show the damage, produce impactful images and moving reports, and recommend that the tragedy not be politicized. The human drama in all this must be shown, of course.

But it would be recommended that, in addition to this and the examples of charity, the set of political decisions that make us head towards the precipice were explored. With each tragedy we extol our solidarity, we pray, but we do not provoke reflection on the causes of this catastrophic situation.

Rio Grande do Sul, which has always been at the forefront of environmental protection, is witnessing its dismantling being legitimized in parliament, the executive and the media. Journalism offers a false balance by showing supposed two sides, with intolerable defenses of the ogre business (there is also agribusiness which is not harmful). But it is the ogribusiness that has been exploiting soil for years, consuming the climate, changing the courses of rivers and producing wealth translated into luxury, jets and trucks, never shared with everyone.

This wealth limited to a few leads us all to a point of no return. It makes us perplexed in the face of pain and destruction. And the reporter who left the studio, puts on his boots and goes into the water to carry out the story of suffering, to record the drama, is left without knowing what to say when the drenched residents denounce the mine that has altered the entire environment, they say that the company destroyed the surroundings, whereas the effects were not like these before.

Outside of the script, the reporter is left to justify that the residents are nervous. And it goes on, looking for undeniable cries, resigned thanks for the donations. And once again they teach us: no politicizing the tragedy. And let's dive into it. We no longer have Porto and we are not Alegres.

* Sandra Bitencourt is a journalist, PhD in communication and information from UFRGS, director of communication at Instituto Novos Paradigmas (INP).


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