Sunday, September 06, 2009


clear-cut robot

Unfortunately, reality has been far worst than the hoax, at least in Amazônia.

The inexorable march of 20th Century-style extractive agriculture and development into the interior of Brazil is threatening to block the vision of achieving a new era of harmony between conservation and development in Amazônia.

There are lots of instances of the Brazilian Ministry of Environment being sabotaged in Congress or on the ground by the more powerful constituencies of the ministries of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation. Indeed, Minister Carlos Minc has faced many obstacles and has already announced his intention to resign. Previously, his world-renown predecessor Marina Silva resigned citing, “the increasing resistance in central parts of government and the society”.

But the past need not be prologue. As the NY Times headline put it, A Child of the Amazon is Shaking Up Brazilian Politics. Marina Silva is weighing her return to the center stage and the pundits are either promising a new Obama or fearing that she will upset the delicate and always uncertain era of Worker Party governance.

As the political controversy grows more intense and as personalities and promises grab the headlines it is important keep in view exactly what has been happening on the ground.

Photos of Mato Grosso and Para by Leonardo F. Freitas.

Today, we are all global citizens -- in Brazil and in the world -- and we can't just look on passively as the future of the Amazon forest and planetary life as we have known it is threatened. Indeed, environmentalism and sustainability are not spectator sports.

The great Samaúma is now calling ALL of us -- the big guys at the World Bank and the folks on the ground alike. This is a time not for building endless "infrastructure improvements" but for building true bridges between people and nature.

We hope and pray that Marina will be able to help us heed the call, halt the devastation and return to a balance between people and nature.

Marina Silva

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