When the Amazon is in good shape, the world is in good shape. The rainforest impacts our lives by sequestering 340 million tons of CO2 annually, stabilizing the climate and rainfall worldwide, and is home to 10% of the world’s wildlife species. Ensuring that the “Lungs of the Earth” are protected is important to our livelihood and Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made it his priority. Compared to last year, deforestation is down by 68% in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Part of this success is due to the president’s recognition of Indigenous lands and people who have been safeguarding the Amazon for centuries.
Since 1985, the size of the Amazon rainforest that has been cleared is larger than if you combined France, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. With less than aggressive government policies aimed at protecting the rainforest, deforestation continued to rise due to illegal deforestation. In February of 2023, satellite images from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showed that deforestation on Brazil’s side of the Amazon rainforest spiked to a 62% increase from February 2022.
“People need to know what’s happening because we need allies to fight against invasions, to protect areas, and against deforestation.”A SENIOR BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL
Kayapó and Panará are two indigenous communities that have been at war for decades. It’s been brutal. Lives have been lost. And, animosity has raged… until recent years. Traveling by bus and boat, dozens of indigenous communities came together to meet and discuss their unison against former President Jair Bolsonaro. “[I’m concerned] about the trees, water, fish, the non-indigenous people who want to enter our land. I don’t want to contaminate the water with [toxic products from] mining.
Lula’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro Bolsonaro championed the mining, logging, and agriculture industries’ capitalistic agendas above that of the indigenous communities who live within the Amazon forest. Thousands of miners illegally entered preserved territories. Between January and June of 2022, a portion of the Amazon in the Xingu River region which is the size of 69,000 football fields was destroyed. Machinery has contaminated the Fresco and Branco region with mercury. And, the number of fines passed out for damaging Amazon
“Our concern is that if the forest is gone, people will also end.” ~ Chief Ajareaty Waipai.CHIEF AJAREATY WAIPAI
The Brazilian constitution prohibits commercial farming and mining on indigenous preserves. But, Bolsonaro had his eyes set on diamonds, copper, and gold, and cacao. “It’s the richest area in the world. You can explore it rationally beside the indigenous, giving royalties and integrating the indigenous to society,” Bolsonaro said. When 40,000 miners moved into Yanomami Park, an indigenous reserve in the Amazon, the indigenous community suffered from violence, malaria, mercury poisoning, and malnutrition. Ye’kwana and Yanomami leaders fought back since their voices, food source, medicine, and shelter were taken away from them. They began to learn artis