The favourite presidential candidate of Brazil made clear promises: he will abolish the ministry of environment, cancel the environmental legislation, open indigenous land to mining, abandon the Paris Agreement and pave a highway in the middle of the Amazon, to open it to cattle ranching. His intention are clear: he will wipe out the Amazon forest.That man is Jair Bolsonaro, who just received 46% of the vote last week.

Bolsonero’s speachs are full of racist, homophobic, authoritarian and misogynistic rhetoric, he admires the ruthless dictatorship that rules Brazil 40 years ago.

In the Amazon, illegal loggers, miners, land-grabbers, as well as large land owners have rallied to his banner. Here, they don’t expect Bolsonaro to enforce the law. On the contrary, the hope is that he fulfils his promise to obliterate nearly all protecting the environment and the indigenous people.
Brazil’s current environment minister Edson Duarte said: “Instead of spreading the message that he will fight deforestation and organized crime, he says he will attack the ministry of environment, Ibama and ICMBio [Brazil’s federal environment agencies]. It’s the same as saying that he will withdraw the police from the streets. The increase of deforestation will be immediate. I am afraid of a gold rush to see who arrives first. They will know that, if they occupy illegally, the authorities will be complacent and will grant concordance. They will be certain that nobody will bother them”.

Bolsonaro’s environment policies are tied to racist attitudes toward minorities and Brazil’s indigenous peoples. In a speech last year, he said: “Minorities have to bend down to the majority… The minorities [should] either adapt or simply vanish.” This mean that he hinted to wipe out all rules aimed to protect the indigenous wy of life. His mantra is simple: indigenous land rights are part of a western plot to create separatist Amazonian states supported by the UN: “Sooner or later, we will have dozens of countries inside [Brazil]. We won’t have any interference in these countries, the first world will exploit the Indians, and nothing will be left for us,” he said last year.

Bolsonaro has promised to open indigenous lands to mining and other economic activities. About 13% of Brazil’s territory is recognized indigenous lands, most of them in the Amazon. They are a major barrier to protect the forest, only 2% of rainforest deforestation has occurred inside indigenous territory.
The law protects indigenous rights. Article 231 of the 1988 Constitution states that indigenous peoples have “original rights over the lands that they have traditionally occupied”, although the land belongs to the state and they have no ownership rights over minerals. 

There may be opposition to these plans, in the case Bolsonaro could abolish democracy: his running mate, general Antônio Mourão, has argued for a new constitution without popular participation and raised the possibility that Bolsonaro could proclaim a self-coup.  
Both Bolsonaro and Mourão have defended the excesses of Brazil’s military dictatorship, which displaced and killed (intentionally or through diseases) thousands of Indians in the Amazon, amid an effort to build roads and hydroelectric dams in the forest. The armed forces have never recognized any wrongdoing.

“If he wins, he will institutionalise genocide,” says Dinamam Tuxá, the national coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples. “He has already said that the federal government will no longer champion indigenous rights, such as access to the land. We are very scared. I fear for my own life. As a national leader, I am sure I will be punished by the federal government for defending the rights of the indigenous peoples.”

During the campaign, Bolsonaro promised he will abolish the ministry of environment and transfer its functions to the ministry of agriculture. The agriculture portfolio will be handed to politicians from the “bancada ruralista”, a conservative group of lawmakers backed by the cattle ranching and soy lobbies, who control about one third of Congress and have opposed indigenous land demarcations and advocated for the reduction of conservation units, among other measures, to expand the agriculture frontier. Last week, they formally endorsed Bolsonaro. 

In 2012, Bolsonaro was caught fishing illegally inside a federal reserve off the coast of Ri de Janeiro and was issued a $2,700 fine. Since then as a member of Brazil’s chamber of deputies, he has targeted Ibama, going as far as presenting a bill that forbids its agents to carry weapons, even though they operate in some of the most dangerous areas of the country. Ibama will be stripped of its environmental licensing powers, he said during the campaign. These will be redistributed to other official agencies. 
That means, for instance, that federal agency will no longer be able to contain controversial projects such as the reopening of the disused BR-319, an 890km highway that cuts from one of the most preserved areas of the Amazon, and São Luiz do Tapajós, a giant hydroelectric plant planned to be built in an area inhabited by the Munduruku indigenous group and river dwellers. 
BR-319, which connects Manaus to Porto Velho, is specially troublesome, as it will allow for secondary roads. According to a study by NGO Idesam, an area as big as Germany and Belgium combined is under its influence and will become more vulnerable to land-grabbers and deforestation. Recent attempts to pave it have been barred by Ibama.
Recently the cattle ranching lobby has tried to relax environmental and slave labour legislation, but failed in most of them attempts due to strong opposition. “He will try and he is obstinate, but it’s up to the civil society to react against it. It will be a scenario with intense and almost permanent disputes”, he said. “We must be indignant.”
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