Indians and Cowboys and the Amazon Rainforest

28 August 2019

In the UK the term “Cowboy’ describes a crook who passes himself/herself off as a tradesperson.

In Brazil, the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro wants to take the lands of tribes living in the Amazon rainforest and give those lands to the agribusinesses and mining interests that funded his populist campaign to become President.

In the past year, half a billion trees in an area the size of Greater London have been destroyed by ‘forest fire’. Whilst in Brazil forest fires occur naturally during the dry season, their number in 2019 has increased by an unbelievable 84 per cent. Indigenous people and NGOs working on the ground report that “armed militia swarm into protected areas, and indigenous leaders who stand up to them are murdered”. Additionally, there are reports of planes dropping incendiary substances in order to start massive forest fires.

Bolsonaro, a climate change denier, would destroy the Amazon rain forest for commercial interests. His motives are the financial greed of his backers. The tactic he is using is much the same as that employed by the USA in the 19th century to get rid of its ‘Indian problem’: kill the buffalo on which indigenous people depend. In Bolsonaro’s case, just substitute ‘buffalo’ for ‘forest’. The Amazonian rain forest, one of the ‘Earth’s lungs’, is essential to preserving life on this planet. If we want a future to pass on to our children Bolosonaro’s insane ambitions have to be stopped.

Bolsonaro and his ilk are all about money, and that is his Achilles Heel. The EU is about to sign a trade deal with ‘Mercosur’, South America’s trade bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The deal would create one of the biggest free trade blocs in the world, encompassing over 770 million consumers and a combined economic output of €18 billion (US$20 billion). Unless Bolsonaro reverses his genocidal and anti-environmental practices, this trade deal should not be allowed.

Onaway supports the petition by Avaaz to implore all heads of government in the West to put the wellbeing of the planet ahead of profit. Sign the petition. 

Learn more about the challenges faced by indigenous people from Raimundo Muro, a leader who is trying to protect the Amazon amid threats from farmers, logging and raging fires. Read the full story

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