Fires in the Amazon: indigenous leader Raoni wants Bolsonaro to leave “as soon as possible”

3 min

The Indian leader called for help on Friday from the international community to get rid of the Brazilian president, whom he considers responsible for the fires.

Indian leader Raoni Metuktire

International spokesman of the fight for the protection of the Amazon and indigenous rights, Raoni Metuktire attacked Jair Bolsonaro in an interview with AFP last Friday. “We need to get him to leave as soon as possible, he said of the Brazilian president. He’s responsible for the fires in the Amazon.”

The cacique – who had made a long tour in the spring to raise awareness among European heads of state – called on the international community, and particularly Emmanuel Macron: “I think that the French president and other international forces can push for that the Brazilian people send Bolsonaro away and that Congress votes to dismiss him.”

Fires in the Amazon: the “green lung” of the planet goes up in smoke

Fires in the Amazon

“I’m asking for outside help. I want there to be a general mobilisation to extinguish these fires, argues Raoni. We can not let it burn like that. It’s a disaster, what he’s doing with us,” he said, referring to the far-right president, whom he holds responsible for the serious fires ravaging the Amazon.

The largest tropical forest on the planet is in flames during the dry season, aggravated by deforestation. A phenomenon encouraged by Bolsonaro, which supports the development of agriculture and mining on indigenous lands.

Source: New York Times

“[He] excites these people, like farmers. They listen to him. They think they have all rights and start burning the forests [for their crops], accuses the 89-year-old chef. It is so for wood cutters, gold diggers. They all do it because his words drives them to destroy the forest much faster.”

“It is he who colonises the Amazon”

If deforestation continues, “there will be no more oxygen for us to breathe,” warns Chief Raoni, who has been fighting for years to save the Amazon rainforest nicknamed “the green lung of the planet.” “If we do not save the little that remains, I guarantee you that we will have even bigger fires and it will be the planet that will be on fire. This is just the beginning.”

On Thursday, the Brazilian president accused his French counterpart of “a colonialist mentality” after the announcement that fires in the Amazon would be discussed during the G7 summit in Biarritz.

“President Bolsonaro is lying. It is he who really creates the problems, which accentuates these destructions, these fires, the mining exploration, denounces the native Chief. It is he who is colonising [the Amazon], and not Macron.”

International emotion and pressure has increased in recent days, as 700 new fires were recorded Thursday in the Amazon according to the INPE – the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research that observes deforestation in the Amazon. On Friday, President Bolsonaro authorised the sending of the army for “identifying and fighting against fires”, as well as for “preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes”.

“We will mobilise when we go back to Brazil.” On the eve of his return to his state of Mato Grosso, in central-western Brazil, Raoni, the indigenous leader – on his way to Germany – promised not to give up: “We will make a document and raise funds to put an end to all these problems of attacks against the environment.”

The Brazilian Amazon is the largest forest on the planet, but thankfully, there are many other places with untouched wilderness. Estonia is a great example of that with about 50% of its territory covered with forest.

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