More than prayer is required: the EU can put economic pressure on Brazil

by Arturo Desimone

A popular hashtag-slogan currently lighting up the Internet, #PrayforAmazonas, responds to the wildfires while betraying a logic similar to the large constituency of Evangelicals who voted for Bolsonaro, himself baptised in the River Jordan before he ascended to the Presidency in Brasilia.
Politics means not only deciding what needs to be done, but also catalysing such decisions into reality, without a Deus ex machina.
The wildfires result, partially, from unmitigated deforestation, spearheaded by landed rural elites who endorsed Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party in return for support of their ranching and logging empires.
Recent German and Norwegian divestments from Brazil denote a step towards the right political pressure on Brasilia. But where was this response during the campaigns against education, journalism and human rights of favela-dwellers?
The EU can show persuasive power in defence of climate and human rights, by making clear, swift severance with current Mercosur-EU negotiations. The Mercosur-EU trade proposal, by promising massive South American exports of raw materials to Europe, not only perpetuates the classic model of impoverishment of Latin America, but also rewards the arsonists-in-chief: Bolsonaro-voting, Bible-thumping ranchers and timber-barons who torch the Amazon jungle that sprawls throughout Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and other countries affected by Brazilian actions.
Brasilia’s response for now could resemble that of Bolivia’s government, which hired emergency water tankers. Brasilia will only reinstate rule of environmental (and other) law under international pressure: and that’s where the EU can offer more than prayers.
Arturo Desimone is an Aruban-Argentinean writer and visual artist, currently based between Argentina and the Netherlands (www.arturoblogito.wordpress.com). He’s also member of the Thematic DSC Peace and International Policy 1.

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