As the European Union prepares to finalise the trade agreement with the Mercosur countries, Emmaus International and numerous international solidarity organisations are calling on the European institutions to stop trade negotiations with the Bolsonaro government, which is responsible for alarming damage to health and the environment in Brazil.
While the official July census counted more than 2 million cases and almost 80,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, President Bolsonaro placed military personnel in key public health positions, including General Eduardo Pazuello as acting Minister for Health. The population has been left at the mercy of the pandemic, particularly the most vulnerable. The government is continuing to minimise the gravity of the situation. It hinders the publication of official data on the pandemic, as well as the payment of emergency financial aid to 25% of the Brazilian population entitled to receive it.
Budget restrictions also have an impact on transfers to Brazilian Federal States and municipalities. Of all the Covid-19 tests acquired by the Ministry of Health since March, only 36% have reached laboratories in States and municipalities. The same situation applies regarding direct expenses by the Ministry of Health to combat the pandemic: up until the end of May, only 6.8% of over 11.7 billion Brazilian reais (R$) allocated to the fight against the coronavirus have actually been spent on combatting the pandemic. President Bolsonaro and his government are also responsible for the massacre taking place.
Exploiting the fact that public attention is focussed on the health crisis, mining mega-projects and large-scale deforestation plans continue in the Amazon. Indigenous peoples depend of this irreplaceable ecosystem, where natural resources are threatened more than ever. Their rights are simply denied. The spread of Covid-19 within these communities demonstrates the extent to which outsiders are infringing on their lands, particularly federal government officials. On 16 June, the indigenous chief Paulinho Paiakan lost his life, infected by the virus. He was one of the most ardent defenders of the Amazon Rainforest and a key figure in the battle against the Belo Monte hydroelectric mega project. In June, over 300 deaths from Covid-19 – a mortality rate 1.5 times greater than the national average – have been registered by the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib). 119 indigenous groups are affected, including populations in voluntary isolation.
A video by the Ministerial Council reveals that some ministers consider this health crisis to be “an opportunity”. The draft law on “monopoly” illustrates what these ministers understand by “opportunity”. This project formalises, on protected Amazonian lands, illegal land grabbing by large landowners and legalises future deforestation and mining projects.
Violations of human rights
The vote on this project has been postponed once after German MPs challenged their Brazilian counterparts on the environmental impact of such a law. European governments are trading partners who carry weight. Their opinions matter. The Norwegian parliament has tightened the investment criteria of its sovereign wealth fund, in particular banning the Vale mining group and the electricity group Electrobras, two Brazilian multinationals, due to “serious environmental damage” and violations of human rights caused by their activities. In the Netherlands, the parliament has also expressed its concerns about the fate of the Amazon, along with Austria, Belgium, Ireland and France.
At the European Parliament, the draft law was denounced on 19 June by the Portuguese socialist MEP, Isabel Santos. She reiterates that during the first months in 2020, deforestation increased by 60% compared with the previous year, primarily due to illegal mining exploitations.
For this reason we are calling on citizens to lobby their MPs in France and MEPs in Europe. European institutions must adopt a firmer position against the health and environmental devastation at the hands of the Bolsonaro government. Trade negotiations with this government must halt. It is not acceptable that Germany, on assuming the presidency of the EU on 1st July, has outlined the finalisation and ratification of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement as a priority. Through the campaign “Brazil resists”, the Brazil Solidarity Coalition, formed by 18 international solidarity organisations, offers tools to share the actions of Brazilian social movements and different ways to support them. Throughout the world, let us reach out to show that we will not turn a blind eye.
Signatories: Act Up Paris (François Emery, Vice President); Almaa (Suzete de Paiva Lima Kourliandsky, President); Amar Brasil (Gilles Maréchal, President); Autres Brésils (Erika Campelo, Joint President and Luc Duffles Aldon, Joint President); Attac, (Maxime Combes, Spokesperson); CCFD-Terre Solidaire (Sylvie Bukhari-de-Pontual, President); Cedetim (Bernard Dreano, President); Comité des Amis du Mouvement des Sans Terre du Brésil (Monique Piot Murga, President); CSIA- Nitassinan (Aurélie Journée-Duez, President); Cedal (Celina Whitaker, Co-President); Confédération paysanne (Nicolas Girod, Spokesperson); Crid (Emmanuel Poilane, President); Emmaus International (Nathalie Père-Marzano, Chief Executive); France Amérique Latine (Fabien Cohen, Secretary General); Gipta (Patrick Kulesza, Executive President); No Vox International (Annie Pourre, President); Planète Amazone (Gert-Peter Bruch, President); Red.br (Silva Capanema, President); Secours Catholique, Caritas France (Vincent Destival, Chief Executive); 350.org (Clémence Dubois, Spokesperson in France).
Image : CPERS Sindicato CC BY-SA 2.0