Brazil: In case of fire, burn the landlords and imperialists

In this scorching essay, the Brazilian Anarchist Co-ordination (Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira, or CAB) analyse the many steps taken under multiple governments which have led to today’s ruinous arsons of the Amazon — and call for support to flow to the grassroots communities resisting the burners.

In August, Brazilian and international society was surprised by a 50% increase in deforestation and 70% more fires in the Amazon rainforest. Minister of Agriculture Tereza Cristina, known as “The Poison Muse“, hastened to justify the phenomenon, immediately blaming regional climatic conditions. A main “villain” was quickly chosen in a similar manner — summer and the beginning of the Amazon’s dry season.

But one thing brought the attention of social movements and environmental organisations on August 10. A call that was disseminated through social networks and published by a newspaper in the city of New Progress (Novo Progresso), Pará State, called the “Day of Fire.” This is a campaign initially promoted by the Pará estates which has spread rapidly throughout the Amazonian biome. In an interview with Folha do Progresso, a fazendeiro [landowner], who was shamelessly mobilising to set fire to the jungle, said the goal was to “show willingness to work for President Bolsonaro … we need to show the president that we want to work and the only way is to devastate [the jungle]. And to clean and generate grasslands, it is with fire “

Data from the National Research Institute (INPE) showed a significant increase in fires from August 10 onwards, especially in Novo Progresso and Altamira municipalities, both contained by [route] BR-163 and deforestation by the “Capos” of the Amazon region. According to INPE, Novo Progresso had 124 recorded fire outbreaks during the “fire day”, an increase of 300% over the day before. The next day there were 203 outbreaks. In Altamira, satellites detected 194 fire outbreaks on August 10 and 237 the next day, an impressive 743% increase. It is evident, then, the effective participation of the so-called “productive sector” in environmental crime, and the participation of the government.

The State’s position

However, we cannot exempt the State (at all levels) in the approval of such actions caused by capitalist agents on the Amazon border. We, from the Brazilian Anarchist Coordination (CAB) systematically denounce the selective class action of the Brazilian state. 

Contrary to what is commonly promoted, the State is not absent in the region, it only chooses where it works and which side it should act. From 2012-2019, all the mechanisms won for the defense of nature and of indigenous and peasant peoples have changed. This began during the 2006-2011 Dilma Rousseff government with the Forest Code, which had as its greatest exponent Aldo Rebelo, belonging to the electoral and institutional left (at the time of the Communist Party of Brazil, today in Solidaridade). Then he continued with the reform of the Mining Code, in an advance towards indigenous territories, during the Temer government (PMDB). Finally, the policy of completely dismantling environmental controls was concretised through the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, in the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PSL). These actions prevent any mechanism of self-determination and recognition of indigenous territories and quilombolas, and completely paralyse any agrarian reform policy.

It can be said that the argument between the French and Brazilian governments on this issue only expresses a degree of divergence and dispute within the ruling class and bourgeoisie on how to deal with the issue of the environment and geopolitical alignment in our continent. On the one hand there is the reactionary, supine government — based on Bolsonaro and his ties to agribusiness. On the other is an international industrial and financial bourgeoisie, which with its neo-liberal discourse of “green capitalism” (supported by Rede Globo in Brazil), only seeks to create conditions to privatise the Amazon region. 

European geopolitical interests are added to this to consolidate areas of influence in the framework of this intense global trade dispute, which also views Latin America as an objective of imperialism and its local partners in its “backyard”. Related declarations about “defending our sovereignty” by the brass of the Brazilian army and government ministers sound like bad theatre as they suddenly pretend to be outraged by international arrogance. The only “sovereignty” that the Bolsonaro government and its lackeys want is the freedom to squander and burn the natural resources of our territory (such as oil) and deliver them to their chief, the United States government. Bolsonaro’s “sovereignty” is only the choosing of an imperialism that allows his clique to burn and privatise, while destroying the rights of rural and urban workers. There is no solution, for the peoples of the world and nature.

Pick your side

CAB opposes and confronts these perverse policies against our peoples, and calls to amplify the voices of the jungle, like the Ka’apor people in Maranhão who say that “The jungle is our mother. The territory is our home. They are our life. We defend them!”

We are side by side with the rubber workers who since the time of Chico Mendes have developed tactics to stop the advance of livestock farming in the jungle in [the State of] Acre

We sympathise with the people of Cajueiro, in Maranhão, who were brutally evicted from their ancestral quilombola territory by the government of Flávio Dino (PCdoB) and its developmental fury. 

We strongly support the self-determination built with great effort by the Munduruku people in western Pará. We sail alongside the riverside in their fight against waterways in Furo do Rio Capim, in Abaetetuba de Pará, which only serve large grain producers, especially soybeans, from the north of Mato Grosso. 

We support and reaffirm that the only way out is the direct action of the rural peoples, the jungle and the city, in struggle against the ecocidal and anti-popular project of capital and the State. 

Finally, taking the teachings of geographer Élisée Reclus, who said that humanity is nature becoming aware of itself, we affirm that nature is a subject of rights and as such should be respected and protected. The mechanisms for this will not leave the G7, with its billion-dollar imperialist backers. Only through the self-organisation of the peoples of the Amazon, through the construction and control of their organised territories, in horizontal and autonomous political and social relations. In this way we can stop the progress of the destruction of the region and not submit to the landowners or opportunistic settlers.

Long live the jungle villages! 
Get out Bolsonaro and his murderous estate! 
Get out Macron and his green capitalism! 
Live an Amazon free from the clutches of capitalism and the State!

~ Brazilian Anarchist Coordination


This is an edited machine translation of an article from CAB. Any issues let us know!