The Brazilian Issue – Beyond the Fires

After an intense week of facebook posts about the Amazon burning, people shocked, people panicking over the “World’s lungs” burning, people calling for the end of the world etc… I finally read something that made me stop, reflect and question how much do I actually know about the Brazilian issue?
Here is my girlfriend’s post that made me think:

I write this post to be able to have a broader point of view on the issue not to create useless debates and absolutely Not to justify the barbarity of the human being.
Good morning to all dear ones, I really apologise with all my heart if this morning I will have to show you the Amazon issue from other points of view, lets begin with my socio-political lesson and economics.Just as I did in front of the campaign against palm oil, which is actually raising the GDP of very poor countries, causing damage to the multinationals, which use our ignorance to hit these countries by causing us to boycott the products that contain it .. .A little reminder ... Remember that these peoples began to cultivate palm oil after the 2003 Tsunami and that through this culture they retired up on an economic level ...Now lets look at the Amazon case together.The important things to know about the Amazon is that there are many points of view on this, we indignant Western beings, we look at the Amazon as a precious asset of which we feel indirectly the owners.
If we look at Bolsonaro's policy he is trying, in a crazy and questionable way, to pull his country up and make it independent economically and socially from the presence of other peoples, from the leaders of other countries who would like to exploit its resources ... A bit like what happens in Africa where we steal their metals and minerals and to wash our conscience we build a well and a school ...Brazil is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, through the deforestation and supplying the land to the peasants Bolsonaro intends to reduce the hunger of its people, reduce the poverty of its people by making every single landowner capable of self managing his family creating jobs and wealth ... What makes LOTS of fear to the most northern countries!Yes, the green lung of the Earth is a land that will nourish its people.How shocking ... How did it come to his mind ???Now, to change the situation we should collectively take care of the next (the neighbour, of each other).If we valued this thing there could be those who produce oil, who produce food ... And those who produce oxygen for everyone ...Some nations could be producers of oxygen ... But the community should take care of providing the payment for this resource ... And then there would be more trees for everyone ... But who is willing to pay for oxygen?
That country and those people have the right to become independent ... And we who talk about respecting the resources of the planet, in beautiful fresh air-conditioned cottages, with 4 cars one for each family member ... We who throw away tons of food in the toilet ?? ?We should just be quiet !!! And 5 minutes of Shame!So the current indignation we are being pushed upon relies on our gullibility ... it's another pro-ignorance maneuver ... OURS!


What follows is my opinion and my reflections upon Brasil, based on what I have researched and read.

I never studied politics and I have convinced myself that I am not interested in it simply because I don’t know enough. Also, where do you start from to make sense of what’s happening today?
I wanted to understand if the international community going so full on against Jair Bolsonaro is right, I too dislike him and have disliked him from the day he got elected president… however, now I need a deeper understanding and I feel the urgency to form an opinion which is not based upon the opinion of others. Moreover it’s not enough for me to condemn the actions, I want to know the reasons behind them.

I began by googling “Brazil GDP growth” – The Gross Domestic Product is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of the country’s economic health. In 2018 Brazil scored 1.1.% … it means its economy is growing. I wanted to understand what is the current state of Brazilian economy. On Trading Economics you can see the forecast for Brazil is extremely positive, its GDP is growing fast. And especially since Bolsonaro’s election…
What does this mean?

I must share some data before continuing my point (bare with me):
Country            # Rank in population               Growth Rate                    2018 GDP
Brazil                             6                                        0,75%                              1.1%
Russia                           9                                        0,09%                              2.3%
India                              2                                        1,02%                               7.0%
China                             1                                        0,43%                              6.6.%

Let me introduce you to BRICs -> a grouping acronym referring to the countries of Brasil, Russia, India and China, deemed to be developed countries at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development, on their way to becoming developed countries. In 2010 it became a formal political institution. And in 2010 South Africa joined.
What would happen and how do you think the current world political powers would react if kicked off of their throne? …..
A report by Goldman Sachs in 2010 says that the 4 BRICs may account for 41% of the world’s market capitalisation by 2030. We are then observing the new upcoming world power countries…

Brazil had been exploited by BIG FOOD COMPANIES (mostly American) for many many years, of course after the US have used all their land they go look for cheap land in poor countries. However, it happens that an exploited country wakes up and decides to implement the so-called National-Champions policy: The idea was to select Brazilian exporting companies and transform them into large transnational corporations that bring home large revenues. How? Frequent mergers and acquisitions and consolidation across several meat segments (beef, pork, poultry, etc.) and other parts of the value chain (feed, additives) are key to the meat industry’s strategy in increasing profits. In this way, the companies used a large portion of BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank that funded such project) resources to swallow up small businesses. They continued to rapidly amass power through further mergers and acquisition activities in key meat producing and consuming countries. Flash forward to today: Brazil is the world’s leading exporter of soybeans; the second largest exporter of maize; and the world’s largest beef trader, exporting more than 20 percent of the world’s beef. It has overtaken the United States to become the biggest exporter of poultry in the world, close to 39% of total global exports.
WOW right?

I wondered why Macron has so brutally and publicly attacked Bolsonaro….
the group of seven major advanced nations is formed by: France (which is 2019 host), Germany, Italy, Japan, US, UK, and Canada.
…..and it makes sense now.
What happens if from this Amazon scandal the EU stops buying meat from Brazil? (EU is the second bigger customer)… How can you stop the economic growth of a country?…… What happens if the public opinion of that country and that president is marked negatively? ……

But but but check this report by Friends of the Earth Europe:

“The EU serves as a huge market for Brazilian soy and beef, the production of which drives deforestation and human rights abuses in Brazil on a vast scale. The EU is also Brazil’s second largest trading partner, and taken together, its Member States are Brazil’s largest source of foreign direct investment.”

They ask to stop the negotiations between MERCOSUR and EFTA, by appealing onto the human rights  and environmental principles of the European Union. Oh too bad though that the current members of the European Free Trade Association are Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland: none of which is a member of the EU. They do collaborate with the EU, only they are not bound to it and its principles.
MERCOSUR –> it’s a South American trade bloc; its members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay. Mercosur’s purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency.

And Saturday afternoon just as I was reading and writing all this… I stumbled upon Bolsonaro’s instagram story which stated that the agreement has been signed!


Where am I going with this? …..
Goldman Sachs predicts that China and India, respectively, will become the dominant global suppliers of manufactured goods and services, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials. … Isn’t it bizarre how Brasil and Russia burned extensively this year and none of the Presidents did nothing?
Also, The Guardian released an article clarifying about the fires and stating that it was not the actual Amazon forest burning! …

Check out this title, yet another one of the Friends of the Earth:

Do you think it’s recent?… This week’s maybe? Eh you wish… this is dated January 2011. The problem of deforestation isn’t today’s problem. You know in 2007 the Brazilian company world leader of meat production bought 50% of the shares of an Italian company leader in Europe of meat production and transformation. I will not make names but it’s all on the internet. This is the price of cheap meat.

My Conclusions:

When the Italian Pianura Padana was deforested to make space for the thousand pig farms; when  United States deforestation has caused the destruction of virgin forests by 75% percent since 1600; when Nigeria has lost 81% of its old-growth forests in just 15 years (1990–2005); …. and I could list many more but I’ll stop here. When all that was happening it was for the name of progress. Today, because we are living a moment of transition and change of the Planet’s climate we cannot call progress Bolsonaro’s manoeuvre to make his country great. No because the Amazon Forest doesn’t belong to Brazil but to all of us. The Pianura Padana though belongs only to Italy. The US Ancient forests belong to the US. Nigerian Tropical Forests belong to Nigeria (also, their country won’t ever become as great anyway, right?). Many countries’ fortune and greatness have been reached at the expense of nature (and I won’t even enter what are the other costs, ie human lives).
If this was happening 15 years ago, we wouldn’t be so alarmed but because people are in a high panic mode and shitting their pants (due to misinformation about climate change and the end of the world!) …. now the favourite game is to point the finger at the guilty one. Bolsonaro in this case. Of course because the Big Group has already done enough to take this planet to this critical point, now they can go by and set the rules to everyone else not to screw up anymore.
I’m sorry to say people but Bolsonaro, for as much as I dislike him, is not worse than any of those leaders who now turn their back at him and call him out for the Crimes Against Humanity.

It would be ideal that Brazil looked at the example of the US: how greed and ignorance turned a beautiful and rich land into a desert. Perhaps if there is anything positive about all this pressure against Brazilian fires is that perhaps deforestation will be managed better and more wisely.
I do hope that all the attention will force him to change his politics, but truth is that it’s far more complicated. Also, for us to know the truth is almost impossible. America is a great example of how a rich country doesn’t necessarily translate in its people’s wealth, but perhaps the pride of being part of such great nation pays off for being poor: in the eyes of the world we are The Americans, never mind I cannot afford food let alone go to the hospital if I’m sick.
Sadly Brazil is going in that direction, as the models and examples are not that illuminating.

Anyway, these are my considerations and you can have yours. I don’t excuse Jair Bolsonaro’s politics and ways but I do understand them. Also a few years ago Brazil had big financial problems and so to get back on track they must’ve adopted very unpopular politics (to say the least). And it worked as their GDP started going up and up, however because the GDP’s calculation is based on the invoices of course it creates a dependency upon those few huge companies that account for the majority of the country’s GDP. Meaning if its growth depends on meat, soy and corn (just like the American one!) then deforestation won’t be an option.

As you know there isn’t much we can do except for educating ourselves on the motives that drive our leaders, choose wisely what we eat, question our current reality…etc 🙂 Actually it’s already a lot!


A few links I read:
High Country News
La Conceria
Institute For Agriculture & Trade Policy
The Brazilian Business
New York Times