Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Brazil stars protest environment policy

Brazil stars protest environment policy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso performs during a demo in defense of Earth and the environment and against the environmental policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, outside the Congress building in Brasilia, on Wednesday. AFP

Brazil stars protest environment policy

Iconic Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso led a star-studded protest on Wednesday against President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy, seeking to block a series of bills that activists say would be devastating for the Amazon rainforest and beyond.

Thousands of protesters flooded the square at the seat of power in Brasilia, brandishing a giant inflatable turtle, bird and other animals and urging Congress to vote down what they call the “destruction package.”

The rally was due to be followed by a concert headlined by Veloso, one of Brazil’s most celebrated musicians, and featuring other stars including singer Daniela Mercury, rapper Emicida and musician and actor Seu Jorge.

The Bolsonaro-backed bills would pardon illegal seizures of public land, restrict the amount of territory eligible to be designated as indigenous reservations and open existing indigenous land to mining, among other measures.

Environmentalists say the legislation would accelerate environmental destruction, especially in the Amazon, where deforestation has surged since Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

The bills “would cause irreversible damage to the country and the planet, making it harder to stop deforestation and human rights abuses and cementing Brazil’s reputation as an enemy of Earth’s climate,” Veloso wrote in a letter on behalf of the more than 200 organizations sponsoring the protest.

Accompanied by environmentalists and indigenous leaders in traditional feather headdresses and face paint, Veloso, 79, hand-delivered the letter to Senate president Rodrigo Pacheco, telling him Brazil’s credibility was being “demolished” and singing a verse of his song “Terra” (Earth).

Fellow Brazilian music great Chico Buarque, 77, who could not be present because he was recovering from surgery, addressed the meeting by video conference.

“Nobody is against agribusiness, but unfettered, limitless profiteering needs to be stopped,” he said.

Farming, and especially cattle ranching, is the main driver of deforestation in agricultural powerhouse Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter of beef and soy.

Pacheco responded that Brazil needed to balance environmental preservation with “economic development that guarantees profits and food security.”

But he promised protesters: “We will proceed cautiously on all these bills.”

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a 15-year high last year – 13,235sq km in the 12 months to July 2021, according to government figures.

“They’re destroying Brazil in every possible way. I’m here for my daughters and all Brazilian children,” said protester Michele Pereira, a 40-year-old nurse, who was with her two young girls.

Bolsonaro, who has long pushed to open protected Amazon lands to agribusiness and mining, has drawn international condemnation over the rise in deforestation and forest fires in the world’s biggest rainforest on his watch.

The far-right president has pushed particularly hard in recent days to pass legislation allowing mining on indigenous reservations, arguing the conflict in Ukraine has made it vital for Brazil to reduce its dependence on imported fertilizers, which it notably sources from Russia.

His allies in the lower house are moving to pass the bill under special emergency provisions, bypassing committee discussions.

“We must use our reserves of potassium (a key fertilizer ingredient) and guarantee enough fertilizer for our farmers,” said the administration’s leader in the lower house, Ricardo Barros.

Opposition lawmaker Rodrigo Agostinho said the administration was trying to use the Ukraine crisis as an “excuse.”

“This bill will damage Brazil’s image, the environment and the health of those who live in the Amazon,” he told AFP.

“This is about giving free rein to illegal mining, not fertilizers,” he added, saying Brazil’s potassium reserves were largely outside the Amazon.

Brazil imports around 80 percent of its fertilizers, and 96 percent of those using potassium.


  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Siem Reap action plan for tourism in motion

    The action plan for the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan (2022-2023), focusing on six priority destinations, has been implemented to boost tourism and regain pre-Covid tourist numbers in the province. The action plan sets out 17 strategies and 37 implementation activities for: Angkor Archaeological Park, Phnom