Fires in the Amazon forest have seen an increase of over 75 percent since Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in January 2019. The president has now announced a 60-day ban on setting fire to cleared land, but he refuses any foreign aid. Master’s student Lucas Meirelles dos Santos hopes the president will realise just how precious the Amazon is.
‘We’ve had 16 years of leadership by the Workers’ Party, which became associated with corruption scandals over the years. I think Bolsonaro got elected despite who he is because he was running against the Workers’ Party in the second round, and people wanted “something different”. So now it seems like if you’re not a Bolsonaro supporter, then you must be a leftist, and this division stifles healthy discussion.
The current government is promoting a sense of Brazilian nationalism, which is why it doesn’t go down well when foreign countries, especially European ones, point fingers at Brazil’s management of the Amazon forest. Although European countries historically also destroyed natural resources of their own and of others, this doesn’t give us licence to do the same nowadays, when we already know so much more about the environment.
It’s upsetting how much impact Bolsonaro has had on the environment, but of course it was not only because of him. All the ministers that he appointed had views similar to his, and laws have to pass through various organs in the political system. But an elected president is theoretically the voice of the people, and if he goes on TV to say that we need to return the Amazon to the people so they can profit from it, that emboldens the farmers, miners and loggers who indeed want to do just that. I don’t like the current narrative in Brazil that “the Amazon is ours”, as it simply isn’t. Instead, it is a natural and cultural treasure which is truly, truly amazing, and Brazilians just happened to inherit it from the world.’