In a video to recently surface from the Amazon, an indigenous woman can be seen fleeing the devastation of the fire, saying that they were set deliberately. The woman said that the native tribes of the area fought to preserve their home in the forest for the past several years, only to have the area invaded and set on fire.
People are deliberately starting fires in the #AmazonRainforest to illegally deforest indigenous land for cattle ranching
“These assholes came in and burned down [our reservation]... I want all of the media here to see this” pic.twitter.com/uGFp7RItHK
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) August 21, 2019
This may sound like a wild conspiracy theory, but many experts agree that these fires were intentionally set.
Many environmental and human rights groups have called attention to the catastrophe, pointing the blame directly on the current administration of newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro.
Christian Poirier, program director for the conservationist group, “Amazon Watch,” released a statement blaming the current situation on cattle ranchers, who have been emboldened by the new president's pro-industry rhetoric.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 22, 2019
The claims are backed up by scientific evidence as well. According to a Yale study, the Amazon is the largest beef exporter in the world, supplying nearly a quarter of the global market. This practice is entirely unsustainable, and is responsible for nearly 80% of the Amazon’s deforestation. This is just one industry, that does more damage to the oil companies, miners and the loggers combined.
About 450,000 square kilometers of deforested Amazon in Brazil are now in cattle pastures, according to the study.
Just a gentle reminder that the fires in the amazon are intentional. It’s not a forest fire type situation. It’s an intentional setting ablaze of the forest by the fascist brazilian govt + agrobusiness & ranching oligarchs. Wording matters. Don’t hide who is doing this & why.
— Wendi Muse (@MuseWendi) August 21, 2019
Poirier from Amazon Watch told CBS News that the new fires were actually a coordinated effort on the part of local ranchers who want to clear the wilderness for cattle grazing fields. He said that the ranchers organized a "fire day" because they knew that they would not face any consequences from the government.
Under the reign of president Jair Bolsonaro, anyone seeking to make a financial profit on the Amazon has been given open permission to drive the native people from their lands and destroy the place they call home. Last month, an indigenous tribe in the Amapá state in the Brazilian Amazonian Rain Forest, saw their leader assassinated by gold miners seeking to steal their land. The tribe was forced to flee, and the gold miners got exactly what they wanted.
This is all much to the approval of Bolsonaro, who believes that the protection of the rainforest is preventing the Brazilian economy from thriving. Bolsonaro was elected on a platform of reinvigorating the Brazilian economy through the exploitation of the rainforest.
Bolsonaro has recently compared indigenous tribal people in the Amazon to “prehistoric men,” and often refers to them with racist or derisive names. The president even blamed the native tribes for the fires, then said that it could be the environmentalist NGO's who recently saw their funding cut by the new administration. During another spat with reporters who asked about the fires, Bolsonaro sarcastically compared himself to the Captain Planet villain, “Captain Chainsaw.”
The president came under fire yet again this week, after it was announced that he had secret plans to build highways through the Amazon, specifically for the purpose of bypassing wildlife protections, and then developing around the new infrastructure.
In the past week alone, over 9,500 new forest fires were reported in the Amazonian region of Brazil.