Voice from the frontline: Brazil’s antifa firefighters

As record-breaking wildfires rage in the rainforest a member of the newly-formed Autonomous Brigade writes for Freedom about its defence of affected people, animals and the environment.

Brazil has always suffered from the fires, unfortunately, but what made Brazilian anarchists organise was the emergency situation that is in the biomes of the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest. In the current government of Jair Bolsonaro, through the Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles, the numbers of fires and deforestation have increased a lot. Salles himself said that he would let the fires happen with minimal government intervention, and this is what is happening. The government does not fine the large landowners who are primarily responsible for the fires, in fact it does just the opposite, it gives incentives to these landowners, and on top of that the government places blame for the fires on native Americans and NGOs.

So realising this, and that the government is doing very little about it, Brazilian anarchists have organised themselves into fire brigades. The Autonomous Brigade and the Lucas Eduardo Martins Antifascist Brigade were created. Each brigade has more than 10 volunteers from different states of Brazil, and a little over a month ago these volunteer brigadiers, many already experienced in working with fires and rescuing animals, went to the state that is suffering the most from the fires, Mato Grosso.

At first the brigades went to participate in missions in the region called Chapada dos Guimarães, where there is a great biodiversity of birds, mammals and plants that are only found in that region. It was a little more than a job, with a deployment of around two weeks, after which the Autonomous Brigade went to another region, a region closer to the border with Bolivia, where the main ecological park of Mato Grosso lies, in the Poconé region. There they mainly focused on animal rescue, rescuing a lot of animals affected by these fire situations. The Lucas Eduardo Martins Anti-Fascist Brigade meanwhile went to help quilombola communities and indigenous communities.

After a while other comrades arrived in Mato Grosso to help in the fight, also helping some indigenous communities in the Xingu indigenous territory, and as all our financial support is from the people in general and from the brigadiers themselves, the situation has been very difficult sometimes, both in the matter of supplies and physically.

Many comrades have already returned to their homes, but we still have some in Mato Grosso, I would also like to denounce boycotts suffered by voluntary brigadiers by government institutions such as the fire department, which delayed and hindered many of our actions on purpose, in the same way that the police serve the state.

The autonomous brigade will not stop just here, we understand that the struggle for nature, the struggle for the people and animals is a principle of anarchism, and we will continue to help fight the fires that arise and rescue animals and people in the event of disasters and the general education of the fire prevention community, in addition to taking on all this an propaganda of anarchism.

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~ Autonomous Brigade [FB]