Amazon Rainforest 30 Years on
It's happened to all of us. You return to a beloved location -- and it isn't quite as you remembered. But even taking that into consideration, Sue Branford got a big shock recently when she returned to what was once a small community in the Brazilian rainforest.
It's estimated that last year alone twenty-six thousand square kilometres of trees were felled -- an area almost the size of Belgium! Sue first visited the region three decades ago. Today it's almost unrecognisable...
It's a strange sensation returning to a place you haven't visited for 30 years. And it's even stranger if everything has changed out of all recognition.
I first went to the Amazon basin in 1974. At that time it was a real wild-west. The generals then ruling Brazil had decided, in what later proved to be a dangerous simplification, that the Amazon basin was empty. It was time, they said, to occupy it. So they set about building a network of roads and encouraging loggers and cattle companies to move in.
So there I was in 1974, on one of my first journalist assignments, finding out what was going on. I'd never been to the Amazon before and I was overwhelmed by it all. The beauty of the forest was breathtaking. There were trees so huge that it would have taken ten men with outstretched arms to encircle their trunks. Turtles basked in the sun on the white sand dunes that lined the rivers.
But, along with this natural beauty, was man-made conflict. When the loggers and cattle companies arrived, they found peasant families living in parts of the forest. As well as fishing, hunting and collecting Brazil nuts, they were clearing small plots of land to grow food. The companies sent in gunmen to deal with them. Day after day I met traumatised peasants who'd been forcibly evicted. On another occasion I saw a group of disoriented, emaciated Amerindians, begging for food by the side of the road.
For a few days I travelled in a lorry along one of the half-finished roads. One afternoon, after hours of dense forest, we stopped at a tiny hamlet. It was called Redencao, Redemption. And there among the wooden shacks, with their roofs made of palm leaves, was a bar selling ice-cream. The owner, an eccentric Italian, had somehow managed to bring an ice-cream maker into this remote region. The machine was fuelled by diesel, which was in short supply, so it often lay idle.
这样的事 情我们 所有 人都 遭遇过。当你回到一 处你 所热爱的地 方时，结果却发 现与
Someone set fire to the amazon rainforest. The amazon rainforest has been burning, and now leaked documents suggest that the Brazilian government knew someone was going to set it on fire, but did nothing about it.
Under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian government reportedly had been told that a group of farmers, ranchers, miners, loggers, and land grabbers planned to burn down a swath of the world's largest rain forest.
According to local news outlet Globo Rural (and as tweeted by investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald), the group told the federal government in advance of lighting t!he match, hoping that Bolsonaro's government would forgive the hefty fines that normally accompany environmental crimes.
After being informed of the impending inferno, the government did nothing. Now the Amazon is burning. If true, Bolsonaro's decision to stand by and allow a group to burn the rain forest is tantamount to ecocide.
This report seems to confirm what other leaked documents have shown: that Bolsonaro planned to "fight off international pressure" to protect the rain forest and open it up to development.
Those plans, leaked to political website openDemocracy, showed a strategic occupation of the Amazon region by the Brazilian government to prevent conservation projects from gaining a foothold in the rain forest.
They featured a PowerPoint presentation detailing projects for the region, including construction of a hydroelectric plant, a bridge, and a highway in the jungle.
"Development projects must be implemented on the Amazon basin to integrate it into the rest of the national territory in order to fight off international pressure for the implementation of the so-called 'Triple A' [conservation] project," one slide reads, according to openDemocracy.
The Triple A project is a conservation effort led by a nonprofit called Gaia Amazonas, in collaboration with NGOs and international governments that, the Independent reports, would create "the world's largest protected area, a corridor of rainforest 135 million hectares long stretching from the Andes mountain range to the Amazon and Atlantic ocean." The protected area would throw a wrench in Bolsonaro's plans to develop the Amazon.