This Sunday millions of Brazilians go to the polls to elect the President. Carolina Albuquerque is a Brazilian now living in Auckland who says the Presidential election this weekend (2 October) affects our survival – and the whole world should be watching.

The centre of the world is not Washington, London or Beijing. Facing the potential tragedy of climate change, there should be no doubt the most important place on Earth right now is the Amazon.

A tree in foreground against backdrop of forest to the horizon, at sunset

The Amazon is the world’s biggest rainforest and it’s often described as the lungs of the world. We can also call this vast ecosystem ‘the river in the sky’. 1 in 2 of our breaths depend on the Amazon because of the water that evaporates into the atmosphere, turns to rain and then flows to the ocean.

The preservation of the Amazon is essential for the future of humankind. However, the future of this sacred forest is at stake this weekend.

There is a war going on. According to the Map Biomas, in just one one year, 2021, this war killed 18 trees per second.

Since Jair Bolsonaro became president in 2019, the Amazon and its indigenous people have seen disaster as devastation increased dramatically. And this is his open political agenda.

Bolsonaro dismantled the government institutions that advocate for indigenous rights and the preservation of the forest. We saw a dramatic regression from the Constitution of 1988 that guarantees indigenous rights.

We need to take a look at who is behind Bolsonaro, supporting his political career and agenda financially. It’s the most reactionary sector in Brazil, agrobusiness. Those businessmen, steeped in historic economic privilege, are thirsty for more destruction. They want to mine the Amazon at all cost. 

We must see the presidential election in Brazil this Sunday as crucial for us all, no matter where we live.   

The first time I heard the description of the Amazon as the centre of the world was through the work of journalist Eliane Brum. Eliane has been on the front line for the protection of the forest and the indigenous people’ rights. Alongside indigenous communicators and activists from the Amazon, she launched the journalism platform called Sumauma

Eliane warns the outcome of this election will shape our future. “It’s a fight for the centre of life. It’s death against life”, she says.

And the question stays with me: ‘What would we do if we realise that Amazon is the centre of the world?’

To start with, we would have to follow what’s going on there. At least. At this current moment, clarity about the reality of the situation is power.

The Amazon isn’t a commodity for us to exploit by the blinded capitalists. Our lives all depend on the life of the ecosystem by protecting the forest and its indigenous people. How come the upcoming election is not the number one priority for the world? Why are all the headlines only covering the Queen’s funeral in these weeks?

I was raised in a family that battled the military dictatorship in Brazil, and I learned we have to fight for our rights and for democracy on the streets. Since I am so far away, I can’t protest on the streets but I can engage in the political debate.

Hope and fear are battling up in Brazilians’ hearts. A recent poll indicates a great part of the Brazilian population can’t take more of Bolsonaro’s violent and extreme conservative political agenda. Also, 74% of the voters believe that protecting the Amazon is important for the economy. That fuels me with hope, despite the shadow of the fear I can’t deny is within. 

Bolsonaro threatens the dignity and the conquered rights of women, LGBTQs+ people and Afro-Brazilians. All that Brazilians previously achieved has been wrecked by this far-right politician working for the interests of the rich sectors of our country.

Bolsonaro is the threat which prompts us all to unite for the survival of the Amazon and our democracy. Yet what strikes me is the silence outside Brazil. 

“The Amazon is living an invisible war”, said the young activist Txai Surui, from the tribe Paiter Surui in Rondonia, in a speech to support Lula the former president who is running against Bolsonaro. Txai is a 24 year old woman risking her life to protect her home and us all. We’re talking about one of the most dangerous places for a climate and environmental activist to act, Brazil. “Without Amazon, there is no tomorrow”, affirmed Txai. 

In other words, the result of the upcoming election is fundamental for the whole world. 

What can we do? Shift your mind from London to Brazil. Decolonise your eye. Search for news about Brazil, produced by reliable information sources (such as Sumauma or the Intercept). Ask your friends who are Brazilian if they are voting for Amazon. If you are at university, promote debates about the current Brazilian political situation. 

What we can’t allow to happen anymore is silence in the face of this destructive government led by Bolsonaro. The changes only come with a wide public debate and protest.

PETITION: Save the Amazon

Add your name to tell the Brazilian government to save the Amazon Rainforest and protect the lands of Indigenous and traditional communities.

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