Activists in NYC confront Bolsonaro about lies and his role in Amazon destruction

by Katie Nelson

September 25, 2019

On the eve of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s opening speech at the UN General Assembly, Greenpeace joined allies at Bryant Park in New York City to protest Trump and Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental agenda. Making a special appearance was a giant Bolsonaro puppet, chainsaw in hand. 

Bolsonaro took the stage Tuesday at UN headquarters, placing blame on Indigenous People and small rural communities for the recent Amazon Fires — an avoidable crisis 9 months in the making — as well as to discuss subsequent dismantling of environmental protections in Brazil.

Greenpeace captured its spoof digital billboard ad in response to Bolsonaro’s “Brazil by Brasil” campaign — launched to improve the government’s image abroad — to draw attention to the hypocrisy of his pro-sustainability discourse and the reality of the damage he is doing to Brazil’s environment and Indigenous People.

The distorted vision of the Amazon and Indigenous Peoples presented to the UN is part of a broad assault on the forest, the climate, and the truth. Over the last few weeks, the Brazilian Government has invested in a social media ad campaign and a PR/damage control tour deploying Brazilian Government officials. 

Greenpeace released its ‘Amazon spoof video’ on a giant billboard truck that accompanied the march through Manhattan Monday night and Tuesday morning to coincide with Bolsonaro’s opening remarks at the UN General Assembly. The video is also available online.

“As we saw when the Natural History Museum event was cancelled in April, Bolsonaro and his agenda were not welcome in New York even before the Amazon fires. This week — on the heels of the Global Climate Strikes and in the midst of NYC Climate Week — swarms of activists made it clear to Bolsonaro that: ‘We aren’t fooled: you’ve been telegraphing a racist, anti-environmental agenda since you came to power. The data doesn’t lie,’” said Greenpeace USA Senior Forests Campaigner Diana Ruiz

Greenpeace, Amazon Watch, Brazilians for Democracy and Social Justice and Code Pink activists greet Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles as he arrives in a vehicle for meetings at the US Chamber of Commerce offices in Washington.

“In order to tackle climate change we need to see government and corporations shift towards prioritizing how we are using land. The science is clear and solutions need to be global. President Trump and Bolsonaro are part of the problem and the world needs leaders that are pushing for real solutions not more climate deniers.”

In conjunction with his UN speech, Bolsonaro deployed his Environmental Minister, Ricardo Salles, to tour major international cities, meet with media, investors, and key trading partners with Brazil to misrepresent the government’s record on the Amazon and the realities articulated by the country’s Indigenous leaders. In Washington, DC, as Salles arrived at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful anti-environmental lobbying group, activists greeted him with giant matchboxes referencing his responsibility in the Amazon fires.

Want to know the truth? Check out this video that Greenpeace International produced in response to the Salles-Bolsonaro tour. 

Katie Nelson

By Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson is a Senior Communications Specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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