Dear Commons Community,
As the Amazon burns and escalates into a global ecological crisis (see video above), Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, finally took the step yesterday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes that are destroying swaths of precious rainforest. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article:
“As an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.
The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.
As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.
On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.
“Whatever is within our power we will do,” he told reporters. “The problem is resources.”
Mr. Bolsonaro did not indicate what resources the military would bring to bear, but he was scheduled to give a televised address Friday evening to describe the government’s response plan.
In a televised address Friday night, Mr. Bolsonaro said the government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to environmental crimes. But he also said Brazilians in living in the states that encompass the Amazon must be provided with broader opportunities to make a decent living.
“I have a profound love and respect for the Amazon,” Mr. Bolsonaro said in a rare scripted message. “Protecting the rain forest is our duty.”
He provided no details about what assets the military would bring to bear in areas where fires are spreading.
It was unlikely that Mr. Bolsonaro’s plan could address the underlying crisis without a fundamental shift in his environmental policies, which have emboldened miners, loggers and farmers to strip and burn protected areas with a sense of impunity.”
This may be too little too late!