Last week senators in Brazil approved a text that condemns the Brazilian forests, a deal between government and agribusiness made in back rooms and secret meetings, and they rejected an amendment that calls for a ten-year moratorium on deforestation in the Amazon. This rejection revealed the true intentions behind the new Forest Code text and the sector that is behind the change.
The moratorium amendment was a chance to make official what we have learned in recent years as deforestation has decreased in Brazil – you don’t need to cut down trees to increase production. However, the agribusiness sector got the best of the process and the new Forest Code text only pays lip service to saving the forests, while in reality it paves the way for more destruction.
The final vote in the Senate is expected to happen this week. After that, the bill returns to the House of Representatives, and then goes to President Dilma Rousseff for approval. President Dilma now holds the power to save the forests. She needs to veto the new Forest Code to and make good on the green campaign promises she used to win her position as President.
Despite her promises, the signals that come from her are negative. While the new Forest Code was being co-opted in the Senate, President Dilma was at an event celebrating sixty years of the National Confederation of Agriculture, which represents the agribusiness and large farmers. While the Senate was making sure the law benefited the agribusiness sector, the President was out shaking their hands and making sure they knew where the Brazilian governments’ support lies.
President Dilma needs to remember the promises she made to Brazilians - that she would not allow further deforestation. Today we sent that message to President Dilma at Brazilian embassies all over the world, where volunteers marched to the beat of traditional samba music as they called on the President to protect the Amazon rainforest and stop the destructive changes to Brazil’s Forest Code.
Brazil made significant gains in fighting deforestation in recent years, and for the past six years deforestation rates were decreasing. The new Forest Code bill threatens that progress, but there is still time: President Dilma must veto the proposed changes to the Forest Code.